Frances Earnshaw ©, Visual for work on a quote about death and beauty, 2013
Frances Earnshaw ©, Visual for work on a quote about death and beauty, 2013
Frances Earnshaw ©, The strength of a swan, 2013
Frances Earnshaw ©, The strength of a swan, 2013

The Real Beauty Advice Column. For mothers, older mothers, and women who are rather tired and who are artists, and who are not very perfect.


Q: Polycystic ovaries, endometriosis and cortisone have left me rather hairy. Perhaps it was also imbalances because of being chronically underweight when I was developing. Do I shave or wax?

A: I always used to have a weird belief in waxing. Shaving seemed to be some kind of defeat and admission of a lack of femininity. So I spent a fortune on waxing, over the years. The hairs are often torn off, and not actually dragged out by the roots. So you have ingrowing hairs, lumps and unsightly scars on your legs. And, you will spend most of the year in trousers. So just shave. It feels much nicer. If you do use those home waxing strips, you might use them afterwards for some interesting, if rather disgusting art work.

Q: Should I still wear lipstick now that I have a moustache?
A: Yes.

Q: Asthma left me with a pronounced sternum, and the major lung operation I had when I was a child has left me with a bad scoliosis. Any advice?
A: Not really. Just hope nobody notices. OK! On a positive note, try to remember to walk as if you are very proud of yourself.

Q: The scoliosis means I often bang my back.
A: Ouch!

Q: I have a dismorphic body image, and was in a deeply dissociative state through most of my childhood and adolescence, as an escape from physical illness. Two problems here, I never learned to identify myself fully as a woman, a sexual being, or revelled in my body and the effect it has on men, as I see most young women do, or felt powerful in this way. And, (sorry I keep starting sentences with this conjunctive) I have also had a poor body image. This impacted on my life through long periods of unchosen celibacy, loneliness, poor job choices, lack of direction an obsessing about one aspect of my body after another.

A: You could make some interesting art about all that. Ah! You have done!

Endometriosis gathers on the ovaries, Endometriosis series 1, 2009
France Earnshaw ©,Endometriosis gathers on the ovaries, Endometriosis series 1, 2009

Q: I seem to have a permanent crown of fat around my tummy now.
A: Ah, menopause. That word sounds so restful and melifluous.

Q: My daughter stood naked straddled over me, me in bed, last night.
A: Congratulations! I think you have achieved your goal of not passing on the sludgy, uugh, feelings you always harboured about your own body. What was that all about, anyway? Ironic really. You even like your grey streaks these days!

About Frances Earnshaw

Frances Earnshaw graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1985 with a Master of Arts degree.

She had a solo show at Gallery 286, Earls Court, London in November 2012. She has shown work at The Freud Museum, London, The V&A Museum of Childhood, London and at the Museum of Folk and Fai…Read more

One Response to “The Real Beauty Advice Column”

  1. Char March

    great fun to play with those bloody awful advice columns in which we are all told how easy it is to be super-human!


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