Keeping Up Appearances; as Denise Van Outen Admits She Hates the Thought Oftheir Standards Slipped since You Tied the Knot ?: NO Says Joanne Aaron, Senior Corporate Communications Manager for Trade Credit Insurer Atradius, 41: YES Says Dianne Evans, Head of the Wills and Probate Department at Cardiff-Based Wendy Hopkins Family Law Practice, 56
The week of 9/11 was an extraordinary one. On a global scale it has irreversibly coloured the way we lead our lives. On a personal one, it was when I got off the plane a spike-heeled, scarlet-lipped product of the West Coast of the USA, relinquishing Patti the personal trainer, Mark the martini maker and Mary the manicurist (yes, really) to take a break from a frantic publicity career and retrain as an acupuncturist.
Up to this point my refusal to own or wear jeans had remained steadfast. Leave the house without make-up? Don't be ridiculous. I was high maintenance, baby, with no plans to change.
Little did I realise what I'd be up against. Because acupuncture, like most alternative therapies, attracts its fair share of alternative people, and one of those became my husband.
He was a rugged hippy surfer type living in an alternative community on the Gower. His idea of having a bath was going in the sea, no soap involved. And while he thought it was fine to live in his dad's old threads - and believe me I am totally up for a bit of stylish 'vintage' - I still have this old fashioned idea that clothes should still, well, fit, and perhaps have fewer holes than the colander.
To add insult to injury, he liked his girls au naturel - something even my most 'natural' looking friends strive hard to achieve. So, far from allowing my personal standards to slip within the sanctum of marital harmony, rather the opposite has been the case as I have dragged him, kicking and screaming, into the alien world of grooming.
Ours has proven a mixed marriage with a difference. He woke up and told me how beautiful I was without make-up. I wondered, as he slept, if it would be wrong to cut off his hair before he stirred.
He wanted birthday suit, I gave him business suit. He begged me to run barefoot, I begged him to wear matching socks. Arguably all very flattering, but the temptation to drop everything, let the grey run riot and my rear expand, needed keeping in check.
It was to prove a delicate balancing act keeping him happy while secretly pursuing my own clandestine waxing, plucking, buffing, filing and colouring. So, with careful management I made some compromises. Like buying some velvet jeans and not wearing matte red lipstick until after I'd kissed him goodbye in the morning so he didn''t have it on his face all day - not that he'd ever think to look in the mirror. And I finally indulged his persistent requests for 'natural' hair colour while pregnant with our babies, forcing even him to concur that salt and pepper is best left to fish and chips.
Then after giving birth, I decided that I wanted to be a more positive energetic role model for the family and get into decent shape. I took up cycling and in a few weeks will be having a crack at my first triathlon - I'm certainly in better nick than when I walked up the aisle.
But then there's the other thing. I fell in love with my hippy because of his principles. And so while he has cleaned up and has more than one bath a month - two if there is a pagan festival, three if it's my birthday - he has also helped me to see that less can be more. That my fervent worship of the cosmetics counter is fine, but could be honed in a more consciously ethical way, and that no-one really needs 14 red lipsticks. …