1. If you wear makeup, why do you wear makeup and how often do you wear makeup?
I only wear makeup on days that I’m working ie seeing clients. As a reflexologist I see a lot of professional women (mainly) and I like to come across as professional too and someone they can relate to rather than too earthy or alternative! I also wear make up if I’m going out, socialising or special occasions. If I’m working at home or pottering about locally I don’t bother.
2. What made you want to participate in this portrait series?
Firstly because I have very few photos of myself. As a single parent, I’m always the one taking photos, mainly of my children. And I’m no use at selfies! Secondly, because I’ve been going grey for a long time and have recently decided to stop dying my hair and revert to my natural colour. So I liked the ethos of a totally natural portrait with no make up and natural hair – even though I’m at the difficult transition stage of being half grey and half blonde, though I was originally brunette!
3. Is being completely make up free something that makes you feel in any way uncomfortable?
Not really. I guess if I’m meeting new people or at a work event or something I would prefer to have a bit of make up on, but it’s not totally essential for me. What I do wear is fairly light and as natural looking as possible so to most people it is probably barely noticeable, but I know it’s there and that gives me a little boost of confidence.
4. Are there specific factors (positive or negative) that have influenced how you feel about how you look?
My mum has always been very confident about her body and wasn’t remotely bothered if me or my siblings walked into her room while she was getting dressed, or lying in a bath. My dad was the same. I don’t ever remember her being on a diet, but she lived a healthy lifestyle generally and I like to think I am doing the same with my children. She has always been comfortable in her own skin, and happy with what nature gave her and that’s a great gift that she’s passed on to me.
5. If there was one piece of advice for the future you could give your younger self, what would it be?
Go to bed earlier and get a good 8 hours sleep! I’ve always been a night owl which doesn’t do any favours for bags under the eyes, dull skin, etc.
6. When have you felt most empowered in your life?
My now ex-husband left me for another woman when our children were really tiny (2 under 2). Then almost 2 years later he wrote to me wanting to get back together. But it was all about what he wanted, not considering at all what might be the right thing for me or the children. So I said no, which was tough, but was the right decision. It was too little too late and I’d done the hard bit of broken nights, nappies, etc myself. I felt strongly that I was better to be single and happy than miserable and in the wrong relationship just for the sake of being part of a couple again.
7. Is there a woman, fictional or real, that you admire? Why?
Both my grandmothers were amazing matriarchal types who I loved and admired dearly. One had four children, fostered another permanently, lost a son, and lived with an alcoholic husband all her life yet still was a strong, cosy, resourceful and amazing woman. The other had 3 sons, lost another just after birth, and raised her sons alone as her husband was captured at the beginning of WW2 and was a prisoner of war for 5 years. He then came back (a completely different person) and she picked up the pieces and carried on, keeping the family going. She was also amazing and lived until 99 and a half!
8. What quality do you most admire in yourself?
There are a few actually. I’m pretty direct and open, tenacious, resourceful, loyal and true to myself (hence going back to my natural grey!)
9. Is there an achievement you are particularly proud of? Why?
Giving birth to both of my children. I was particularly fortunate to have an easy time of getting pregnant, being pregnant and giving birth and I’m very grateful to my body for allowing that.
10. In daily life what are the pressures you feel most exposed to specifically as a woman?
Juggling work, motherhood, and running a home and constantly feeling that I’m not doing particularly well at any of them. There are never enough hours in the week to do all in the way that I’d like to, but I know I do set my bar pretty high sometimes. I know most working mothers feel the same but it doesn’t seem to affect working fathers in the same way. Maybe men are better at compartmentalising different parts of their lives. I wish I could!