Anyone who follows Marian Keyes on Instagram will know that if the bestselling novelist has a passion for one thing in life – besides writing, of course – it’s beauty.
The Irish author regularly posts reviews of products she has bought (Josh Wood hair dye? A winner. Fenty Purpsicle Lipstick? Too neon) and before lockdown took a trip to Paris to visit beauty store Sephora on the Champs-Elysees, declaring in a video from the cult cosmetics store: “I’m going to be kind of hyperventilating.”
“Skincare makes me wildly happy,” the Limerick-born writer says in an interview on the Outspoken Beauty podcast, in which she refutes the idea that being interested in make-up and skincare is shallow or a waste of money.
“I feel that we are uncomfortable with talking about [beauty] because men run the world. And they don’t get it or understand, and they’re very quick to judge.
“Comments like, ‘You’re vain and you’re stupid.’ And I think, ‘But it’s our money. We can buy whatever we want.’
“You know, nobody judges men for buying tickets to the football or doing mad stuff to their car. You know, they’re regarded as legitimate hobbies.”
The author, who has written 13 books – including latest offering Grown Ups – and sold more than 30 million copies worldwide, thinks this attitude towards beauty is part of a wider problem.
“People are so, so hungry and quick to judge women’s appearances,” she says. “To comment on them. To comment on their clothes, to comment on their weight, to comment on whether they are ageing well or not. And I just feel that’s not on.”
But she believes progress has been made in recent years as women increasingly speak out against celebrity body-shaming in the media.
“I think there has been a change in that people have realised women’s bodies and women’s faces are not public property any longer. And I think people are learning that fat-shaming is really, really terrible. And also, age-shaming is rude and basic, you know?”
Ms Keyes, who published her first novel, Watermelon, in 1995, turned 56 last year, and admits she spent a lot of her life trying to fit into the “rigid template” of what women are ‘supposed’ to look like.
“I spent so much of my life just in despair of what I looked like,” she says. “And I just think that was an awful lot of time I wasted, that was an awful lot of pressure I put myself under.”
Nowadays, she’s enjoying the freedom that comes with self-acceptance, and isn’t going to let anyone else’s opinions get in the way. “I suppose when I turned 50, I thought, ‘Nobody gets to tell me anything about myself any more. I’m old enough to know myself,’” she says. “I just felt like I’d earned the right to know that my opinions about myself mattered more than anyone else’s.
“And now I think, ‘I’m just going to be me. Judge all you like; your opinion doesn’t matter.’ If I like how I look, that’s all I want and need.”
Have you ever experienced or observed weight discrimination or body-shaming? Or ageist behaviour that was aimed only at females?
– With PA
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