Preparing for summer holiday makes me feel like nothing if not a trophy wife. Not because of the exotic destinations we visit (usually just a tour of the family in Texas) but because of the extreme summer holiday primping beforehand.
I wax, pluck, spray-tan, file, shave, clip, lacquer and highlight. I’ve done a thousand situps and contorted leg lifts so I can hold my head up on the chaise longue, looking utterly toned while I simmer gently in 100-degree Texas weather.
I’m not alone in wanting to look passable in a swimsuit without my usual blinding white and blancmange-texture thighs. Yet it strikes me as particularly strange that I work so hard to present a me on holiday that’s so different from the everyday me. It’s as if only the optimal me can go on holiday and really enjoy it.
I know it’s silly to let a preoccupation with how I look impinge on my enjoyment of time away with my family. But the truth is that it does. I feel less self-conscious and enjoy hitting the pool more with the kids if I feel confident about the body that’s bouncing off the diving board. The appearance of glossily painted toenails in sandals pleases me and makes going out for Tex-Mex that much nicer.
I wish a little that the holiday me I always aim to attain stuck around all year long, but the truth is it’s hard work maintaining. There is always something to scrub or epilate or tighten. Alternatively, I wish I could rush out into the ocean or don a pair of shorts without critically examining beforehand the expanse of flesh laid bare. I’d like to think more about my inside rather than the outside.
At least my tan comes in a bottle, not from the sun. At least my slightly slimming profile comes from exercise, not a crash diet. As for the pedicure: There are no health benefits to the polish I’m painting on. We’ll just call that one of the pleasures of a hot summer holiday. After all, every body likes to doll up once in a while, trophy wife or not.