OPINION: Battle to be beautiful will always be won from within, says Helen McDermott

PUBLISHED: 21:22 30 August 2020 | UPDATED: 21:22 30 August 2020

There's only so much we can do to make ourselves look better, says Helen McDermott

There's only so much we can do to make ourselves look better, says Helen McDermott

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Helen McDermott says no matter how much time and effort you spend on making yourself look better, the real beauty of a person comes from the inside

There was a time in pre-Covid days when I would pamper myself with a spot of posh shopping in some of the top London stores. It was always fun to browse the make-up counters and swap some gossip with the immaculate and glamorous assistants, both male and female.

Part of the fun was allowing myself to be teased by their smiles and promises to make me look 10 years younger, and the smooth talk of guarantees that the stuff in their smart jars would do the trick. Of course, I believed it every time, and they believed I believed it, and then carried on smiling as I told them I’d think it over. Sometimes I would even buy the stuff even though I knew in my heart of hearts that none of their magic potions could really knock off the years.

Covid put a stop to all this; I often wonder what could have happened to that smiling army. One day recently I had a phone call from one of the stores, a posh one and the assistant had a voice to match. He sounded young and charming too as he told me that his particular brand was offering a deal on skin care that was “the best bargain ever”.

I was so impressed by his youthful charm and cultured way of speaking that I bought a “bargain box”. I also congratulated him on his initiative, contacting known buyers of the brand by phone instead of by weary-sounding emails. He told me that the footfall in the store was so vastly reduced that he was hoping to up his daily sales by keeping up the personal contact.

The bargain skin care duly arrived in a really lovely presentation box. Once applied will it make more than a half-pence worth of difference? Time will tell, but there was an instant thrill from just opening the box. I hope the young man who took the trouble to contact me manages to keep his job; his way of working would be a real asset to his employer.

I remember all those years in telly, times when seeing myself on the monitor each day before transmission made me very aware of what I looked like and how the years take their toll. Good lighting can make a huge difference as to how we appear. Any of the film stars could tell you.

Zoom can bring some cruel revelations. When I log in for my pilates class (now on Zoom, thanks to lock-down) there’s the teacher, the lovely-looking Amanda, and then I loom up with unkempt hair, no subtle lighting, just the harsh light of day. I’ve tried holding the phone as far as possible from my face but there’s no getting away from the fact that I do look a bit rough.

I doubt whether anybody else in the class cares what I look like (too concerned about their own looks) but I dread it each time we encounter each other on Zoom. It seems I’m not alone in this irrational dread. Sales of Botox and other facial aids are on the increase.

Our looks on that little screen seldom please us. We can do something about the background, shuffling stuff on the bookshelves or showing off our paintings, but the face isn’t that easily sorted. Even youngsters in their twenties are pondering a facelift. It may sound a bit drastic but I can understand it. In my early twenties, just starting out in telly, I was convinced that I looked fat and spotty and hoped that the lighting man of the day would be kind and tweak the shadows.

It wasn’t just the women who worried about their looks on the box. One presenter insisted that the technicians didn’t forget his “nose light”, and he used to twiddle with the studio monitor to help nature make him look a little lovelier.

Take my word for it: make the most of what nature’s given you, but always remember that it’s the light you have inside you that matters.

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