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Columns
Mother of two Annette Cunningham is a freelance travel writer and columnist, working in media communications. She has two daughters at university and lives in Kidlington.

The After Life

Annette Cunningham

I recently experienced one of those eureka moments.

I discovered that it is actually possible to leave the house without wearing a scrap of makeup. Not having tried this feat since my early teens – I’ve rarely put the bins out without first applying a smear of lippy – I wasn’t even sure if my legs would actually operate beyond the garden gate if I wasn’t at least wearing two coats of mascara.

But as it turns out, they did. Not only that, but to my immense surprise not a single person pointed or stared at my naked face and people actually recognised me.

Unlike some people, I’ve just never been into baring all in public, not in any way, shape or form. I know we’re not all the same – some people relish getting their kit off. I have an aunt, my polar opposite, who is unable to resist discarding a garment of clothing for every sip of wine she drinks on a night out.

She’s danced naked across the manicured lawns of Boars Hill, poured pints with just two pie dishes (single-serving size if you’re interested) preserving her modesty and jumped out of a birthday cake wearing little more than a couple of candles and a smile.

And who am I to discourage her? The first hour of a night out spent with someone randomly flashing their briefest of briefs to fellow diners or dipping their pop socks into strangers’ pints generally leads to a night to remember – and one not to tell your grandchildren about.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no prude or shrinking violet; it’s just that apart from brief periods spent horizontal on beaches, I’ve always preferred to keep on not only my makeup but most of my clothes too (remember the 1980s horror of communal changing rooms in high street stores).

In fact, there have always been bits of me that even I don’t want to see. So I fully understand why some people may feel hideously embarrassed stripping off at the doctors to reveal parts of them that have gone awry. (What totally bewilders me are the members of the public that claim they simply can’t face visiting their doctor, but then seem perfectly at ease whipping out their abnormalities for a camera crew and just a few million television viewers to mull over).

And goodness knows what the older generation, who felt it inappropriate to apply lipstick in public, make of the public displays we now put on in our public spaces. And yes, I am talking unwanted hair removal in the full glare of a shopping centre.

Who would have thought that this procedure previously always considered something very private and only ever carried out behind triple-bolted bathroom doors and with the lights off, would have caught on in public?

I don’t think they are doing Brazilians publicly yet but just give it a while. And I would say I’ll be first in the queue, but that would just be a barefaced lie.

- Annette Cunningham