While looking at an old schoolfriend’s photos on Facebook just now, I suddenly realised something: little girls do ballet, dance performances, perhaps even beauty pageants, that kind of thing – they show off how lovely they look in pretty dresses and how tall and straight they can stand. Women in their twenties become bridesmaids, wearing sometimes beautiful, sometimes hideous, dresses while trying to look demure yet enticing – they want to play their role of dutiful friend well, but still remind the men present that doing so makes them excellent marriage material. It’s all the same – demonstrating how well they can play the role expected of them.
I should probably explain this gross oversimplification and generalisation: the friend mentioned above looked lovely, but when I saw her immaculately made up face and impeccable hairdo I immediately imagined her mum painting her face and pinning stuff to her head. I should probably also mention that this friend developed anorexia when she was 17, a little while after her mum (not a nutritionist or other medical professional) put her (all 50kg of her) on a specially devised diet, and a fairly lengthy stint in a psychiatric hospital followed. Last I heard she was much better, so it made me kind of sad to see her so … subjugated? Stripped of all personality? Kind of fragile-looking in her crisp dress with a hesitant smile that seemed to say ‘I’m being a good girl, aren’t I doing well?’.