There is a moment, for girls of all shapes, sizes and shades, at which you draw the line when it comes to cosmetics. For some, its red lipstick. For others, its false eyelashes, or removing your eyebrows only to draw them back in. For myself, I'd yet to find it. Not that I was a beauty junkie, I just never felt quite right belittling those whose insecurities were best remedied by make up, and whodevoted themselves accordingly. "You boost yourself throughhh foundation? Good on you!" I'd think, before going back to the all important question of what top to pair with yet another new skirt. Then I found body foundation: mentioned in the Daily Mail, nodded at in the Sunday Times and positively celebrated by Glamour magazine - and felt the line seismically shifting. Because once you extend skin paint to your legs, chest and abdomen, where does it end?
At what point are you you again? Looking at my legs now, I can see numerous 'flaws' according to Glamour magazine. There's the bruises where I stacked it last Saturday; the cuts where I shaved hurriedly for a date the other night; and the scars from being friction-burned by the dog lead. There's the freckles I once hated, until my dad taught me the joys of freckle-gazing and I found bears, faces and even the odd country on my shins. There's my funny blue knees: a legacy of the poor circulation bequeathed me by my mother and a constant source of amusement, as even in the height of summer they are violet. None of these traits are particularly sightly - but I do maintain that they are an inherent part of being me.
They are my story. When Lizzie Bennett arrives at the Netherfield House on - shock horror! - foot, Caroline Bingley is appalled. "She looks almost wildl!" she exclaims to Mr Darcy, who to his credit, remains unphased by Lizzie's escapade. Bingley's disapproval is grim - but we should take a long, hard look in the mirror before comparing our society too favourably with that of Austen's time.
Yes, women today have more freedom. We can run, cycle, work, play and flaunt our legs a thousand times more freely than our Georgian equivalents. Yet with this comes the important caveat: throughout - and in spite of - hard work and activity, our appearance must remain without flaws.
It is freedom with consequences. In what is surely the modern equivalent of allowing us employment provided there's no impact on housework, women these days must ensure no trace of their active, professional lives appear on their limbs.
Bags under your eyes? There's concealer. Bruises from your marathon? Paint over them, and for heavens sake shave while you're at it. I used to feel unconscious about going bare legged; now I'm starting to question it. True equality will be the day when neither myself or any other woman feels like they should.