No one will run screaming at the sight of your dimples at the beach or pool, because no one cares, believe me. But if you care, that’s different, and help is at hand
I’m about to start my long-planned swimming regime. But I’ve got really terrible cellulite. Should I feel self-conscious about this?
Kate, by email
“Should” you? Of course you should not. That does not mean that you might not feel self-conscious about it, but that is a different thing.
My thoughts about cellulite are akin to my attitude about wrinkles, body hair and weight: if you feel self-conscious about it, by all means, do whatever you want to make yourself feel better and then spend less time fretting about it and more time getting on with your life. Just make sure that, whatever steps you take, you are taking them for yourself and not for the imagined gaze of others or because you think you have to. Because all that is just nonsense. If you really must attack your body for daring to display signs of being an adult woman, attack it for your sake, because it is your body, not anyone else’s.
Wrinkles, cellulite, body hair and so on are just a natural part of being a woman and, as a male friend once so rightly said to me, if it’s natural, how can it be wrong? And he was right – there is nothing wrong with any of it. But if anxiety about having dark hair on your legs, or whatever, is stopping you from getting in a swimsuit, well, as easy as it is to say that you should stop caring about such unfeminist things, that can be a little dismissive. If you need to shave it off in order to slip on that cute little one-piece and get into the ocean, as opposed to hiding on the beach in a pair of palazzo pants, then I can’t honestly see that this is a bad state of affairs. And then, after a while, once you see how brilliant it is to be in the sea and how, honestly, no one is looking at the state of your legs, you might find yourself giving up the razor habit without a care.
As for cellulite specifically, this is a subject on which I can speak with some authority, and I can help you if you do want to get rid of it, Kate. I am Hadley and I am here to help.
I was one of those babies born with cellulite, one with dimples everywhere but on my chubby cheeks. Yet for years, I honestly didn’t care. Maybe it was because I was so neurotic about every other aspect of my body in my teens and 20s that I simply didn’t have space in my soul to think about something that I’d lived with since I was born. But then, about a year ago, I treated myself to a massage and the masseuse took it upon herself to pass an especially harsh comment on the state of my cellulite, which was, indeed, growing at a rate around my body reminiscent of the demonic plant in The Little Shop of Horrors. Now, of course, the phenomenon of beauty therapists making cruel comments about their clients’ bodies is well-known. Perhaps it is because the therapists are so accustomed to gazing upon people’s bodies that they forget others aren’t quite so hardened to such beady-eyed scrutiny and plain-speaking judgment. Or maybe it’s because they know that if their clients are made more insecure, they’ll spend more money on more treatments. Who really can say?
Anyway, the point is, I was made momentarily insecure about my cellulite and, being a proactive sort, I promptly went out and found something that improved it: body brushing. A good scrub with a body brush (I liked Elemis’ handheld one because it was the easiest to use) before a shower, then apply body oil on the scrubbed area afterwards to soothe it (I used Cellutox Active Body Oil, also by Elemis), really did, honest-to-God make a remarkable difference in just a few weeks. So if you do want to do something about yours, Kate, that’s my tip.
But here’s the funny thing: I recently went on holiday and, having better things to do on holiday than bash my skin about with a body brush, I gave up the anti-cellulite regime. Lo, it all promptly came back and, lo, I realised just as promptly that I wasn’t bothered. No one on the beach ran away screaming at the sight of my dimples, nor was I ejected from the hotel by the body police. Because, you know what? Nobody cares. The only reason it ever matters is if you care about it and if you don’t, then it doesn’t matter at all.
Incidentally, those dimples are remarkably useful for storing loose change to buy drinks by the pool. So not all bad at all.
Post your questions to Hadley Freeman, Ask Hadley, The Guardian, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Email firstname.lastname@example.org