My plan to get out of my lacklustre lockdown and become just a little more Tess
by Nancy Buckland
I’m not sure when my takeaway coffee and pastry became a Sunday ‘thing’ but this weekend, after a quick dip into M&S Food on the way home, I picked up a copy of the new issue of Women’s Health, with Tess Daly on the cover.
I chose to pay for it at a checkout manned by an actual human being, and we managed to chat about Tess, through two masks and a plastic screen. The lady behind me in the queue took it all in, and after we’d finished moaning about putting our feet up with snacks whilst looking at the streamlined and toned Strictly Come Dancing presenter, we received some words of wisdom:
‘You do now these people aren’t real, don’t you?’
At first I felt shocked. It’s a bit like the first time you see a soap star in a supermarket, instead of behind the bar of a fictional pub, but I got her meaning.
Tess Daly is, in fact, a real person, but the image probably isn’t a wholly genuine representation of how she looks on a daily basis. As Cindy Crawford once quipped, even she doesn’t look like Cindy Crawford when she gets up in the morning, either.
Back in 199, I used to boast I had two things in common with Cindy: we are the same height, were the same weight. There our similarities ended. Although I did try to emulate her further by going for those huge, chunky, golden highlights and trying to do her beach workouts with an old garden chair and a holiday resort towel. Further proof that what you see is often smoke and mirrors. I loved those Cindy routines, but even she didn’t get those results by lifting a few arm weights while wearing movement-constricting Levi 501 cut-offs.
I am not sure what Cindy weighs these days, but I do know she’s made up of far more muscle mass than I am. She's kept up her fitness regime, because it’s part of her brand. I am not sure what my brand is, but if being invisible in a checkout queue is a Unique Selling Point, then I’ve found my niche.
In those supermodel glory days, someone behind me in the queue may have noticed my hair was similar to the cover star’s. Now I’m just another member of the happy-to-do-loungewear brigade.
And why is that? It’s like an uphill struggle, as I’m dealing with every life issue that is thrown at a generation of women sold the ‘have it all’ dream, which fast became the ‘do it all’ ticket.
Lockdown has given me further excuses to hide from myself. I don’t do Zoom, never mind online Zumba. I just don’t dedicate the time I should do to looking and feeling my best, and then even sorting out my roots seems like a battle. Every three weeks now. Really?
Today, however, I have forced myself into action as I am actually having a Skype call later with one of my oldest friends, K. She’s an interior designer who lives in Paris, and every time we do meet in real life, she is one of those people who wears crisp shirts with some sort of casual coat thrown over her shoulders. Her Instagram is often peppered with shots of her sitting in a Vineyard setting, in her country home, wearing fitted linen, with a dash of eyeliner and a stylish glass full of something wine-related that screams luxury.
I do not return my own shot: garden furniture that even an ‘upscaler’ wouldn’t attempt to refurbish, with me sat in my favourite sun lounger attire - some sort of towelling playsuit I threw in my basket in Tesco, in 2005.
I heard an interview with Louise Redknapp earlier this week, speaking about her book, You Got This: And Other Things I Wish I’d Known. Back at the height of her first-time-around fame, when she was a darling of women’s magazines as well as an absolute favourite of the lads’ mags, she talks of how upset she’d get when she arrived home from a shoot, because when she left the studio feeling fabulous in professional hair and make-up, when she then took the lot off, who she was left with was someone she felt wasn’t quite as good as the image we would all get to see in print. Having seen her in the flesh around that time it is hard to believe now: there was a reason why she was the nation’s prettiest girl-next-door.
Back to Tess. I watch her on Strictly every Saturday when the show airs, and unless they use camera filters, she really is toned and super-fit. It takes time and commitment. She often talks about not placing importance on age, in that it never holds her back. In her own life, she is a firm believer in pushing herself out of her own comfort zone and surprising herself with her own results. It’s not just Claudia Winkleman who got gifted some smarts, then.
I ask my partner, D, for his advice on the subject. I show him some recent photos of Jennifer Lopez on the beach in a swimsuit, and then in tiny shorts in a glossy magazine. By the way, I have two things in common with JLo which I maintain to this day: we are the same age and have the same size hips. I am a huge fan of her work ethic and the way she puts her best, designer-clad foot forwards. D regards the photos and prefers the unfiltered beach ones and then asks, ‘How do they get them so much smaller for the other pics? Do they put her through a bacon slicer?’ His advice isn’t quite as classy as the gems my female friends impart, but it hits many positive spots.
I have decided that I’m becoming uncomfortable in my own invisibility. I have made some positive steps recently. I am two months into my journey with Elle Sera, which I will be writing about over the coming months, and I have just started HRT. But in order to get maximum benefits from both, there is no point in relying too much on habit-forming ‘treat’ takeaways and sticking my white-haired rooted head in the sand.
We have been told we should be kind to ourselves. Well, there is being kind to yourself, but then killing yourself with it.
So while I might not become Tess Daly-level, there’s no reason why I can’t get out of these leggings and into something far more flattering. I’m definitely teaming my new, flared high-waisted jeans with my favourite, almost-vintage Marc Jacobs platform wedges.
Trinny led me up that path again this week, and I do love her stylish enthusiasm. The first step is to ditch the Sunday Danish, and take it from there. I hate to say this, but it is going to require effort and attention. And as that famous advertising slogan still advises - I’m worth it!
Until next time.