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Why are more women applying make-up and wearing curlers in public?

Updated on March 25, 2014

Travelling to work is like sharing a woman's bedroom


Make-up on the train

It’s eight a.m. and I’m on a busy train from Liverpool to Wigan. I gaze sleepily at the passing scenery with my brain in neutral; the post industrial landscape of an area once at the heart of the great nineteenth century industrial revolution. Coal pits are now leisure parks and sprawling empty factories decay in equally sleepy satisfaction, content to be tickled by creeping weeds between their bricks, happy to host the graffiti signatures of those who know nothing of their former glory. Mist lingers in the meadows and trees cast long shadows over grassy fields suppressing the sparkling dew. Glaciers of shattered shards in the St Helen’s glass works twinkle benignly as the commuter cattle trucks trundle by, delivering their daily cargo of wage slaves to the office coal face.

My eyes are about to close when I’m dazzled by a new reflection. Sunlight spears off a small mirror held by a woman along the carriage. She is applying her morning make-up with conscientious unselfconsciousness. I watch with disbelieving eyes as she systematically transforms herself with the dexterity of a surgeon and the pallet of an artist. A never ending supply of cosmetic consumables applied with the tools of feminine alchemy that will be forever unknown to the average man. The mirror is eventually lowered to reveal a dazzling visage as fresh as the cock-crow meadow.

I look around me and a see more sparkling mirrors mirroring the morning dew. A team of face painters are applying their mask of the day, busily restoring their own bleak pre-industrial landscapes of bags, sags and cracks. The baleful become the beautiful in fifteen minutes of magic.

Differences Between Men and Women

As a man observing this feminine ritual, I’m left with a confusing cocktail of feelings. On the one hand there is the voyeuristic pleasure of being an unnoticed party to a normally private ceremony and on the other the perplexing logic of why they even want to leave the house facially naked in the first place. I once went out with a girl for six months before she would let me see her without war paint, so I know this is a serious business.

Do they think we don’t notice? Is the train a no-man’s land in the battle of the sexes – a space time bubble where the rules are suspended in a preening and pimping free-for-all?

I think this is a disturbing trend. It started with pyjamas. Cosy, teddy beared, fleece pyjamas became the leisurewear of choice for the downwardly mobile young women of certain social groups, who would escape the gravity of their 42 inch flat screened TV’s momentarily, to nip out to Bargain Booze to top up with fags and cider. There followed a natural progression from the corner shop to the supermarkets and shopping malls. As luck would have it this new contagion has largely been resisted by those ‘big boned’ ladies, reluctant to expose their extensive pink clad rear ends to public scrutiny and rightly so. Nature lovers among us may not wish to see teddy bears stretched to grizzly bears.

But nature never stands still and the pyjama trend is continually evolving. Not satisfied with night wear, the ‘coming out’ movement has extended to hair rollers! A Saturday afternoon excursion to Liverpool city centre affords bedroom accessory spotters a cornucopia of curlers. These newly discovered species parade their colourful pre-courtship plumage in all its spiky grandeur, often as parties of ‘hens’ proudly parading their preparations for a night on the town.

Beauty and the Beast

Men watch dumbfounded as the porcupines pass by. If you want to look your beautiful best in the evening, why appear in the afternoon like a Halloween horror? I can only assume that such a perplexing paradox is what makes women so mysterious and wonderful to admiring men folk.

But where will it all end? I witnessed recently a young woman on the train plug hair straighteners into the electrical socket provided for laptops and phone chargers. She then proceeded to straighten her hair while texting and sipping coffee – a modern multi-tasking marvel. What was even more amazing was that when she had finished her toilette she produced a Big Mac from the cavernous handbag. As a bloke this is unthinkable. Burger first, everything else later. We will never understand women!

I have to admit that none of this behaviour is in the least disturbing. Anything which adds colour and humour to the day is alright by me. I do draw the line at nail polish however. Stinky solvents and confined spaces don’t mix or you end up at work mildly stoned.

What are the implications for men in the bathroom and bedroom liberation stakes? I believe guys can be seen shaving on the London Underground. But London is an exception in every rule. Liverpool lads won’t be lathering in public any time soon. Scousers have enough bad press without being in possession of razors on public transport. Mascara and lippy are delightful but the sight of a hairy arsed Navvy cleaning his toenails with the end of his betting shop biro would definitely not set me up for the day.

Is this a global phenomenon? What are your experiences of the bedroom going public?


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