Maeve Higgins’s ideal . . . beauty treatment


I was in my room the other day, congratulating myself on past successes. I spent most of the morning recalling instances when things really went my way. Boy, was I on top of the world! By lunchtime, the failures had started to bubble up too. My mood darkened and I decided instead to imagine the ideal beauty treatment.

Hey girl . . . put down that generous portion of eggplant parmesan for a second and answer me this: who do you trust with your body? What’s that you say? Anyone who shows a glimmer of interest in you? I’m afraid that’s a different thing, and once you’re safely out of your 20s, you can begin to undo that damage. What I mean is, whose hands do you lay on yourself in an effort to change what you look like?

At times, I use my own two hands, but they tend to be over-familiar, rough, even. There’s a fine line between tweezing and self-harm. So I leave it to the professionals. That’s just what they are – beauticians are chefs whose main ingredient is Woman. In the beautician’s kitchen, Woman can be plucked, peeled, marinated, chopped, rubbed, basted, set and baked, depending on the occassion. Fancy little cake-women are turned out by the dozen, all ready to be admired, gobbled up and expelled.

Wizened hand on wizened heart, I cannot say that beauty treatments make people look more beautiful. They just make people look slightly different than before. Off-white shoulders become taupe; heavily frowning brows turn inquisitive; and cruel little mouths plump right up. Like a lobotomy, many beauty treatments carry the promise of a greater sense of wellbeing once you’ve had them. Many a time, crouched on the beautician’s white pleather island, steeling myself for the next rip, I’ve thought to myself “I’m taking care of myself and I love it. I deserve this.” And again, “I deserve this.”

Let me spin you around for a few minutes. Dizzy? Good. Now, what is beauty? Clare Danes and Great Danes are both beautiful. I may well get my eyelashes tinted to look more like the former but I probably won’t undertake a procedure to saggify my jowls like the latter. See? It’s very confusing.

However, I love a manicure. That is one thing of the two things I know for sure*. Manicures involve me paying a stranger to hold my hand, lending me a cheery sense of my own importance. They also add interest to my fingertips, and make pointing 100 per cent more colourful.

My dream beauty treatment is being dipped in warm wax that never comes off, then polished up to an amber gleam by careful hands. Some considered pummelling is carried out, but I don’t even notice. I am floating above the gentle voices of the beauticians, my mind still and calm and no longer worried about the physical. I am a honeyed, sticking statue, marvelled at by all, horrifically beautiful at last.

* The other thing is that “albeit” is not pronounced “all-bite”.