There was an odd moment during my (already odd) cameo on Vernon Kay's show last week. They went over to an entertainingly distracted, seemingly drunk George Lamb for an update on Big Brother. Throughout his bit, there was a girl with her back to the camera, wearing headphones, obviously part of the show, working. For a lark, Vernon got George Lamb to tap her on the shoulder and make her turn round.
She turned round, slightly self-consciously, and waved. She had small sweat patches. Vernon said: "She's a bit sweaty!" Brian Dowling, my co-guest, said spitefully: "She's not wearing make-up!" And that was that; she'd had her five minutes of fame. I felt really uncomfortable.
There are many reasons to disapprove of the above events, not least the idea of taking the piss out of someone who is just doing their job and doesn't expect to be judged on their appearance, when you yourself are no more than a professional chancer who could just as easily be on the crew (I'm talking about Dowling here, not Kay). But I think what troubles me is the notion that if someone's a woman, it's fine to expect them to be made up and to bitch about them if they're not.
Make-up has its uses all right, and it's made people look stunning before now, but overall I would say it is one of the vilest things ever devised -- and not just because I hate having it on my face on TV. The very fact that it exists means that some women feel they have to wear it every day. If all the women who spend half an hour "making up" every morning did something else with that half-hour, the results would be startling. I'm not blaming the women themselves. I just think it's a pity.
And it's a pity, too, that if you're a woman but choose not to pretty yourself up, you are categorised as a "quirky" or "alternative" woman, in the same way that a woman with big tits can't just be beautiful, she has to be "the attractive larger woman" in a feature in Heat magazine, who "love X's new curvy look" but two months later will be accusing X of being in "BINGE HELL".
I realise the subject is rather more complicated than this; plenty of women find make-up and cosmetics generally empowering, not constricting, and so on. But I still find it a pity that after everything that's happened, women are still subject to the sort of easy instant judgement that the fashion world imposes, and some women even actively conspire in it. That's all.
I think I'm a feminist.