Damage Control: Women on the Therapists, Beauticians, and Trainers Who Navigate Their Bodies

Damage Control: Women on the Therapists, Beauticians, and Trainers Who Navigate Their Bodies

by Emma Forrest


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061175350
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/12/2007
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.68(d)

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Damage Control
Women on the Therapists, Beauticians, and Trainers Who Navigate Their Bodies

Chapter One

You Have to Understand My Hair

Minnie Driver

You have to understand my hair. In order to fully contextualize this story, my hair requires your investment in it as a nonverbal but alarmingly expressive and independent character. Even as I sit here now it is fighting the fact that it is rooted to my scalp, and reaches out longingly as if each spiraling strand heard there was somewhere much better to be in the north, south, east, and west.

When I was at school, along with being called 50p face (a hexagonal British coin) I was also called Slash, Animal, and T-rex. These refer (in order) to: Guns N' Roses, the Muppets, and Marc Bolan. These were not always accurate reflections of my hair, however, and no one was more surprised than me when, with the hideous advent of boarding school, with no nanny or mum manning the hair dryer, my previously wavy, silky locks now doubled in size and corkscrewed madly around my face, giving my entire head the appearance of one gigantic exclamation point.

Remember for a moment the late seventies and early eighties—not the music or the clothes, not burgeoning Thatcherism, or indeed Ayatollahism—no, let's remember the hair gel; thick, radioactive-green gel in a clear tub, can't recall the name but it has to be the only one you too remember because there wasn't anything else. It is a credit to modern-day product development that I could make a realistic effigy of my entire family using only the hair product containers in my bathroom right now, and Ithank God for it. That green gel back in the day had a simple protocol: First, it would solidify your hair to the density of concrete, then a fusing process would occur whereby one big dreadlock greeted you upon awakening. I was aware of the consequences of using the evil stuff, but with sweet naïveté and hope (which would only in my thirties be redefined as barking madness), I always believed there might be a different outcome to a repeated action.

And so I soldiered on through weddings and parties, a soft-focus fuzz in the back of pictures, always smiling, always wishing I had a hat. I looked at some of those pictures the other day and saw again the gaping chasm that physically exists between me and my mother and sister Kate; they were elongated blondes, graceful and contained, with huge smiles that were simultaneously warm and removed, they were Ariels to my Caliban, as sleek and unbothered as I was messy and impassioned. And both with the straightest hair you could imagine.

In the summer of 1984 my mother's marriage to my stepfather was in its death throes, we had very little money, but in the close quarters of a tiny cottage in Hampshire, all any of us wanted to do was get away, anywhere, for some kind of holiday. A hotel was found in Arcachon, a seaside town in Bordeaux, and my mother, my sister, and I, along with our six-year-old brother, Ed (blond, curly-ish), set off to find respite from the emotional turmoil of rural England.

Our poor mother. Now, having experienced the kind of heartbreak that leaves your head resting gently against the bathroom floor, I understand the profound need to run away from pain; it must have been very difficult that we all decided to run away from pain with her. And so we arrived in the middle of the night at our third-floor hotel in Arcachon. A Chinese restaurant occupied the first two floors, and the air smelled dramatically of kung pao croissants. We woke up the next morning to a roar of traffic, ninety-degree heat, and the only French town I have ever known to be annoyingly perky. I remember we could all fit on the sliver of balcony if we stood in a horizontal line with our backs pressed up against the wall. Mum, determined to be bright, said everything was going to be fine and we were going to find a lovely beach. Her voice was pitched way too high to really believe the bit about it being fine, but the beach sounded all right. I stood dressing with my sister in front of the tiny mirror in the bathroom; she ran a hand through her long, blond hair, sighed, and adjusted the waistband of her shorts.

"Get dressed, Minnow."

"I am dressed."

"That's the T-shirt you slept in."

"I know, but it covers everything up."

"You're a loony."

I looked in the mirror, and her appraisal couldn't really be faulted. My T-shirt went to my knees and my hair was a crackling fizz, rebelling wildly at France and her maximum humidity.

On the beach, my T-shirt pulled over my knees, I sat looking at Kate. There, with tourists packed around her like a sunburnt sea, she looked dreamy, feline, and utterly perfect. At fourteen I genuinely believed if I could look like her, everything would be better; that without my freckled curves and fright-wig hair, the knot in my stomach would unfurl. The pitted road of popularity, boys, and the rest of my life would smooth into an open plain of charm and fortune. I knew so little of the inner workings of her mind and heart that her exterior was truly all I focused on, and so I guess it was with myself too.

We ate lunch in a horribly overpriced beach café, where my brother flung his sweaty cheese sandwich onto the floor. You couldn't blame him, even the cadaverous dog hanging out nearby for just such an occurrence wouldn't touch it.

"Well what do you want to eat then, Ed?"


"OK, we'll get strawberries."

They came, they looked bad, he ate them, and we headed back to our towels. Almost immediately Ed started to look green.

"I'm going to be sick, Mummy."

"No, no, no, don't be sick, darling, those were very expensive, delicious strawberries and you loved them."

Damage Control
Women on the Therapists, Beauticians, and Trainers Who Navigate Their Bodies
. Copyright © by Emma Forrest. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Damage Control: Women on the Therapists, Beauticians, and Trainers Who Navigate Their Bodies 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
bookwormteri on LibraryThing 2 days ago
I really enjoyed this book. Essays by women about our crazy maintenance. Men have it easy...shower and shave. Women have: shower, shave, color, pluck, exfoliate, etc. We require so much to feel like "ourselves" or our best selves, this book captures some of the reasons that we do these things. Or some of the things we think as we do these things. Very insightful.
readingfiend on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I love reading about how other people look at themselves, what they like, what they dislike and this book didn't disappoint me. Stories about hair cuts gone bad, reflexology on a hypochondriac, the beauty rituals of Arab women and that brazilian bikini waxes are alot more common than I'd ever thought! Fun, quick read.
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