The art of preening or ‘how not to be self-conscious’

Preening is an art form I’ve decided. The thought came to me while I was at the gym today getting changed. My gym changing rooms seem to be divided into two sections, one filled with ladies of varying ages chatting away quite merrily, and then there is the ‘darker corner’ as I like to call it, where I found myself today, closer to the mirrors, which seems to be the preserve of the preener. The sort who can gaze at themselves lovingly for hours in the mirror, whilst drying or brushing their hair with very little on apart from some minimal briefs and something gauzy (is this starting to sound like an X-rated novel?!).

Believe it or not, and despite the fact that I write about beauty products a lot on this blog, I am not a natural preener. In fact I have a real and continual fascination with preening.  I do believe that it is something that is taught from an early age. And this is probably the reason that preening is completely alien to me. To this day, the thought of standing in front of a mirror with little on is something that I have to sike myself up to. (Possibly more so since having kids).

I blame my mother. Don’t get me wrong, I have a good relationship with my mother, in fact it’s one that’s been the envy of many of my friends over the years, but having grown up with someone who was in her youth, and still is, impossibly beautiful and glamorous both myself and, I suspect, my sister have always been  filled with self-doubt about our own looks. . As a consquence, and although I went through something of a swan phase in my late teens and early twenties, it’s taken me a really long time to accept that despite all my physical imperfections (of which there are many) I am actually all right. But preening…I still can’t seem to do it.

If I’m honest, I’ve always been slightly envious of preeners (don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s just women who fall into the ‘preener’ category btw). It is, I’ve decided, something that is taught, and not something that one is born with. Preeners are not always the most good looking amongst us; what sets them apart is that they’ve had a ridiculously high level of praise heaped upon them from an early age. I’ve always tried to heap praise upon praise on my children, especially my older son, in every possible way, in the hope that they will have self-confidence (it’s always amazed me how far this can get you in life), but whether I would want them to partake in the incredibly narcistic ritual I see at my local gym  is a different matter….


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