Saturday, 2 April 2016

I've never been to Paris

Born and raised in the United Kingdom, the much romanticised city of Paris has always been within easy reach. Such easy reach, in fact, that it takes quite some avoiding.

As a soppy teenage girl, of course, I read magazines and absorbed television dramas in which girls just a few years older than I would be whisked off their feet and taken on a surprise trip to 'gay Paris', to dance among the fairy-lit trees, to sip on delicate cocktails... and of course to engage in arousing embrace atop the Eiffel Tower.

Remember when Lisa off Hollyoaks got taken to Paris in a helicopter?

Why would I want to spoil that opportunity by going there myself first? When my man came along and flew me to the French capital it would be the first time my eyes ever beheld it, and it would be the most magical experience of my life.


Any teenage girls reading this, allow me to impart one snippet of wisdom from my now deeply cynical thirty-something-year-old pool of experience: never wait for someone else to make your dreams come true.

So now I'm finally going. It's not entirely by design - I asked to pick up a project somewhere in Europe for a month or two and, when my assignment to Brussels Airport went wrong, Paris was next on the list. I'm needed for 8 weeks to work with a luxury brand on their makeup division. And while that sounds like the dream of many a young woman with a love of beauty products it's a little outside my comfort zone.

Let me tell you a little about me:

My favourite shop in the world is Matalan Clearance in Newport, Wales (see below). If I want to treat myself to a designer dress or handbag, I visit the nearest charity shop or - at a push - eBay. But most of the time I'm happy to just pull together an outfit based on whatever I can find - the more colourful and quirky the better.

Everything's £1 at Matalan Clearance!

I don't wear makeup every day, although I'm capable of wielding a lipstick when necessary. I'm pretty sure the rouge I'm using now was originally stolen from my Mum's bag around the same time as I was pouring over those vacuous girls' magazines. I'm about two stone (28lbs) overweight. My nails are often stained from kids' facepaint or Copic markers, my hair gets cut once a year and my beauty secret is that I occasionally have to shave my big toe.

I'm happy with all of that. It's me - it perfectly suits my priorities. I care about learning new things, expanding my horizons, looking out for others and doing work that positively impacts human lives. My recent projects have been focused on better delivery of government services, on finding ways to include people often left behind, and on seeking out new opportunities for communities in developing countries. I am immensely proud of that work and I don't care that I look like this doing it:

Zipping around the Solomon Islands with my colleague Joyce

But that's not going to work in Paris. This will be another new experience for me, another opportunity to learn and to develop, by immersing myself into Parisian culture and into a different type of society, one that values outward appearance and luxury, and I intend to fully embrace that.

So today the transformation must begin. Day by day I'll be learning more about the world of beauty and making changes to myself that will allow me to better understand it. I'll be embarking on a journey from double-chinned feminist hippy to glamorous Parisian femme.

Enjoy the ride!

1 comment:

  1. Very nice Rose. There are lots of vintage clothes shops in Paris and a flea market near the famous graveyard where Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde are buried. Also, go to The Artist Square in Montmartre. You'll love it there. Dali museum, bars, clubs and eateries there.
    Have a drink in Le Hotel where Oscar Wilde used to live in about 10mins walk from Notre Dame. The piano he used to play is still there in the bar. Enjoy it! Hope to see you before to head home.
    Who needs make-up. Mascara, lippy and a bit of glitter is all I wear. Xx