The Lady Stripped Bare by Tracey Spicer (Full Transcript)

Tracey Spicer

The Lady Stripped Bare by Tracey Spicer at TEDxSouthBankWomen conference.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here: MP3 – The lady stripped bare by Tracey Spicer @ TEDxSouthBankWomen


Hello, my name is Tracy Spicer and I am a vain fool.

Let me take you through my schedule before appearing here today. 6 a.m. get up, look in the mirror, see old lady looking back, wonder how the hell did she get in there! Put on running gear designed to suck in wobbly bits. Run even though no one is chasing me with an axe but run to maintain professionally acceptable size 10. Get home, do 20 wide leg squats in futile bid to get in a thigh gap. Add 20 tricep dips to get rid of nasty bingo flaps. Go to bathrooms, scour skin with exfoliant to get rid of those dreadful dead cells. Hop in shower, lather hair with sodium lauryl sulfate. Rinse out, dollop on conditioner containing placental extract, wait until it sink sink and wait, and wait and wait. Rinse out, soap up, wash off, get out of shower, dry body, lather body in petroleum byproduct, otherwise known as body moisturizer, and wait till that sink sink and wait and wait and wait.

Cleanse face, add toner containing alcohol, wish it was a G&T and I could drink the bloody thing instead. Apply serum carefully and wait till that sucks in and wait and wait. Increase the parabum load by dabbing eye cream, dab, don’t wipe, don’t want to damage the delicate skin, do we?

By this stage, I’m feeling like the Gulf of Mexico after the BP oil spill but I can’t stop. Cover the rest of the body in bronzing cream and wait till that sucks in, and wait. Put straightening gel in hair, section off and apply searing heat until styled into shape. Burn finger on tongs, ow. Almost do back in lifting up make-up kit. Foundation, powder, concealer, blusher, eye shadow, eyeliner, eyelash curler, mascara, eyebrow liner, eyebrow color, lip-liner, lipstick, lipgloss. Put on shapewear to suck in mommy gut after two children. Pop on dress perfectly pressed by dry-cleaner using no carcinogens. Put liquid to nails containing phthalates which are linked to breast cancer.

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But wait! There’s more. Yesterday visit the house of pain. No, not the one with the whips and the fishnets. The one with the hot wax which they drip above my lip and below my eyebrows, before large hairs are torn out of my face, as I lie there and silently chant, “Beauty is pain, beauty is pain”.

Today, I ask the question: Why do we do this to ourselves? Why? Why? Because it’s bullshit.

Today I’d like us to reassess the amount of time we spend in our grooming and the effect it has on our productivity. Imagine what we could achieve if we weren’t beholden to society’s unreasonable expectations about how we should look. Imagine our increased levels of productivity in the workplace and in the home in our lives more broadly. And imagine how much happier and healthier we would be by not adhering to society and advertising’s unreasonable and unrealistic image of how women should look like.

A survey by Marks and Spencer found women take an average of 27 minutes to get ready for work. Over a year, that is 10 full working days. That’s an awful lot of productivity lost.

A second survey expanded that. They compared men and women, they looked at not just grooming to the workplace but for personal life as well. And they extrapolated that over a lifetime. Over our lives on average, women will take 3,276 hours in grooming. For men, it’s 1,092. That’s how the Simpson being groomed, he’s grooming me. That’s about a third.

Do you know what we could do over those 3,276 hours? We could complete a pre-MBA course at Oxford Business School, become proficient at a music instrument, or learn another language.

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