Being a woman of a certain age, I am supposed to swoon over George Clooney. Like every other card-carrying member of middle-aged womanhood it’s incumbent on me to melt at his alluring smile and want to run my hands through his still-thick hair.
George is No.1 on the podium of manhood, an honour only briefly tarnished when his bachelor status was voided by a human rights lawyer who speaks 37 languages and promptly punched out twins.
Anyway, I never bought into the Clooney Club because he always looked a bit smug, what with the tequila business and flitting between Darfur and his Nespresso-funded Lake Como mansion.
Now I dislike him afresh upon his revelation that he cuts his own hair with a device he attaches to a vacuum cleaner.
In one stray comment the follicly-blessed Clooney has cemented my growing concern over an alarming disparity which is poised to destroy decades of progress for women.
Forget the gender pay gap, it’s the gender grooming gap, the difference men and women pay to essentially look nice, which will set us back in the years to come.
“I’ve been cutting my own hair for 25 years,” the actor reveals, doubtless while pouring a vintage chianti he splashed out on because he wasn’t being stiffed $200 every eight weeks for a colour and cut at Curl Up and Dye.
“Years ago, I bought a thing called a Flowbee,” he continued.
“It comes with a vacuum cleaner and clippers. My hair’s like straw, so it’s easy to cut.”
Not only has Clooney exempted himself from the terminable hours and mindless small talk of a hair salon, he’s effectively endorsed the four per cent of men who don’t have their hair cut by their wives or mothers to use whatever is at hand. The electric breadknife could be reborn in the hands of the self-shorn.
Now I’m not blaming men for the gender grooming gap – that’s a profound act of stupidity we women have brought on ourselves. But as we become ever-more demented in our pursuit of physical self-improvement men are increasingly taking a low-cost, low-effort approach to personal maintenance.
The traditional shit, shower and shave has been truncated through the pandemic as many regard at least one component as optional.
Women, meanwhile, are gluing mink fur to their eyelashes, injecting their lips, backwashing their vaginas, Botoxing their foreheads, microblading their brows, yanking up their faces with magical threads and paying thousands to inflate their bums and boobs.
Add in waxing, manicures, facials, foils, highlights, blow-drys and the entire contents of Priceline and it becomes obvious that any narrowing of the gender pay gap is thwarted by extreme grooming.
If feminism enabled this nonsense and Instagram kicked it into the mainstream then I can’t be the only one hankering for my mum’s era when “maintenance” involved a quick de-fuzz with your husband’s razor, a smother of Ponds and eyes highlighted with that fetching shade of Agnetha blue.
Now it’s a full-time job being “beach-ready” or “bedroom-ready” or “date-ready”, meaning men are turning up to these occasions relaxed and cognisant of current affairs while women are fretting that their fake tan might be patchy or that they may not be able to eat dinner on account of the lip filler.
Women are not taking out the Nobel prize or planning manned flights to Mars or finding a vaccine for COVID, or even boosting their superannuation, because they’re too busy sticking jade eggs up their wotsit or pondering Christmas-themed nail art. Even my preferred natural “boho” vibe is so contrived with sea salt hair sprays and arm loads of bracelets that I wonder what hobby I might’ve finessed or business idea I may have actioned had I not been faffing about with a $300 hair styler attempting to nail just the right degree of curl.
We can blame the patriarchy all we like for the ills of the world but they got shit done, not because they were intellectually superior or better with spreadsheets but because they looked in the mirror, saliva-slicked their comb-over, put on more or less the same suit they’ve been wearing for 400 years and got on with the doing.
Even though I have it on reasonable authority that they occasionally sit on their own testicles, no one thought: “Oh, let’s have ball-sack surgery. It’ll be so much more comfortable and look sexier.” No, they performed a little jiggle, admired their dad bods then threw themselves into the fun stuff like making squillions or designing computers or going fishing.
We, meanwhile, are witnessing the most educated and empowered women in history hand over their wages for labiaplasty, the results of which they can’t even see unless they squat over a mirror — hardly a good use of anybody’s time.
It’s time we took a long hard look at our increasingly cartoonish faces and over-tended bodies and refused to be victims of this image slavery. Much as it pains me to champion his example, Clooney doubtless got the cool girl because he invested in his brain and his businesses; his hair not so much.
Spotify has launched a new site that goes through your listening history and reports back on your music choices of the year. My most-played song? Sara Storer’s Won’t Give In. Fitting.
The brilliant You’re Wrong About podcast with Michael Hobbes and Sarah Marshall has a five-part series on Princess Diana which is fabulous and perfect for summer holiday listening.
In a year which has been up-ended, seeing cherries in the supermarket has, well, made me cheery. Eaten fresh or zjooshed up in a trifle, they’re a reminder that the seasons continue to turn.