Not a joke title, btw. There is, quite seriously, a very good piece in the June edition of Glamour, and by that I don’t mean one of those ‘serious’ articles about depression or domestic violence ( i.e. the ones which still manage to be shit but which you don’t really want to criticise for fear of looking like a knob). This is a Glamour article on Glamour issues and it genuinely is great. This is perhaps because it’s written by Zoe Williams, who is quite far from being your usual Glamour writer.
In the piece, Williams tries to live like a celebrity for a week. So far, so potentially annoying. She does all the “celebrity” stuff like having a personal trainer, getting acupuncture, eating “special” food etc. At this point it really doesn’t sound good. It all sounds like an excuse for a journalist to piss about, really. Or for one of them to get all ‘Louis Theroux’ and take ‘a sideways look’ at the crazy world of celebrity rituals. Yet Williams doesn’t do either of these things. She has fun, a bit, but overall seems to find it all a bit sad and pointless, and she makes it obvious to the reader why that might be so (far more eloquently than Britney Spears did with that terrible ‘Lucky’ song, where the superstar ‘cries in her lonely world’ and pisses off everyone in the entire Cosmimegaverse).
Williams discovers that her entire time as a ‘celebrity’ is devoted to how she looks:
In other words, just getting into the kind of condition to do a job that requires you to look like this is, in itself, a full-time job. Then I suppose you’d spend a few months doing your actual job, by which time you’d be back to square one.
Put that way, I’d prefer some half-hearted, ineffectual faffing around with my new Bad Gal mascara (free with the magazine!) before getting on with my day. Because yes, celebrities look better than I do (generally), but they probably don’t feel any better:
But in the end, it’s not the effort or the time so much as the sheer anxiety about your appearance that I think would get you down. There’s no escaping it; you cannot look rubbish, not even for a minute […] There is so much pampering and attention, that in the end you’d either have to give in to it and believe you were that important, or you’d have to reject it, and not believe anything anyone said. It’s a bit of a stark choice.
To sum up, Williams simply says “I don’t think it’s much fun”. Which is sad given that the rest of this month’s Glamour is devoted to the magazine’s Women of the Year, women such Amanda Holden, Kylie Minogue, Fearne Cotton, Holly Willoughby, Lea Michele and Eva Longoria, ie women who are no doubt having precisely the utterly not-fun time that Williams describes so well (Caitlin Moran is also a Woman of the Year, but she’s the exception that proves the rule. God, I hate it when people use that expression).
I’ve often suspected that being a female celebrity feels rubbish due to the focus on appearance, but the thing I’ve always dwelt on is the hunger. Being celebrity-thin has to involve thinking about food pretty much all the time. I wonder how celebrities maintain relationships since being so skinny must kill a person’s sex drive (perhaps that’s the real reason for so many divorces). To be honest, I wonder how celebrities do anything. And up till now I hadn’t even considered all the other ‘appearance’ bollocks.
Obviously there are still times when I imagine myself being famous. But I would, quite clearly, have to be a) talented, and b) a celebrity minger, as it’s the only way I’d be able to cope. But then being a minger would have to be a central part of my celebrity. It would make me “down to earth” and into someone who “doesn’t care” about what her detractors say. I’d have to be a sodding role model, but then I’d also get lumped together with people as diverse as Ann Widdecombe and Beth Ditto as someone who “dares to challenge the beauty status quo”. Because just looking the way I look, right now, would be a political act if I was doing anything at all of note. And when you look at it like that, being ugly and famous is probably just as much effort as being beautiful and famous, only in a different way.
Hence this, and not being talented, is why I’m not being famous. I’m just going to stay here, sitting on the sofa with my netbook, while my three-year-old feeds me ice-cream (it’s important I eat it; I’m the first customer at his ‘shop’). Unfortunately I think that, just a moment ago, he also fed me a bit of snot. I bet that never happens to Amanda Holden. So yeah, famous or not famous; I guess it’s just swings and roundabouts.