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Kerri McLean

I remember using a coathanger to haul up the zip of my jeans... now teenagers want to have a huge bum

Kerry McLean


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Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish

I may be slap bang in the middle of my forties, but I like to think I'm still young enough to know what's going on with the youth of today.

Helping me keep up are my two teenagers, who act as my guides, often unknowingly and sometimes unwillingly, into a world that I might otherwise be denied entry. It's through them that I find out about any new, cool singers, any cool TV shows and which words are cool to use. Cool, by the way, is most definitely not.

I use it frequently around my eldest two because it makes them laugh and roll their eyes at their out of date, aged mother and, let's face it, any laugh is worth acting up a bit for in the current situation.

My eldest daughter keeps me in the loop when it comes to the latest fashions, partly by talking to her friends so often and so loudly that I can hear them discussing current looks, but also by showing me the best and worst beauty tutorials that the internet has to offer. If you haven't watched any, I would seriously recommend whiling away a few hours under lockdown with them, but be warned, they're addictive, especially the ones where it all goes wrong.

They're the ones where people try out fake tan and end up a splotchy orange mess, or where they attempt to bleach their hair blonde and end up with most of it breaking off or turning fluorescent yellow.

These videos have been a real eye opener, showing me how the idea of what beauty is has changed dramatically since I was in my teens.

At that stage, we tried to exercise our bums away, wearing the tightest jeans we could manage to squeeze ourselves into, in an attempt to flatten our behinds a bit. Remember using a coathanger to haul the zip up? But now the figure to aspire to is, I'm told, "thin thick"', with ridiculously slim waists and a bum so big that it looks like you'd need to pay for two seats on public transport. I can't think how you start to achieve that look without cosmetic intervention.

Another current fashionable fad is faking a face full of freckles. I'm a naturally freckled soul and I've always loved them, but in my youth they were not seen as a bonus. I remember a make-up counter assistant once frowning at my face and telling me I'd need heavier foundation to, "cover all those brown marks", like they were dirt.

Thankfully, freckles are now the epitome of cool (there's that word again!) and if you don't have any, you can just create your own with henna, or at least that's the plan.

There are dozens of videos of young girls, putting countless dots of henna on their faces, only to end up looking like off-colour dalmatians and with using long-lasting henna, they're stuck with the look for weeks. I can just picture that counter assistant's disapproval.

Now, me laughing at these poor teenage girls going through makeover traumas may sound cruel, but I feel like I've earned the right, having been the same age and been a walking catalogue of beauty disasters. I dyed my hair so often in my youth that at one stage, a hairdresser refused to touch my locks, even to trim them, unless I signed a disclaimer, saying that should my hair fall out, it was nothing to do with her or her salon. When I have a chuckle, it's one of recognition.

The desired look for young women may have changed, but the struggle to get there has not.

My daughter asked me this week if she could dye her hair like the singer Billie Eilish and was surprised when I said yes. If you haven't seen it, half her hair is black and half green. When she asked why I was so calm about it, I told her that while she and Billie may think they're breaking boundaries, they're doing nothing new.

Decades ago, in the TV comedy Are You Being Served?, Mrs Slocombe had her hair every colour of the rainbow. I'm delighted to say that, much like Mrs Slocombe, when it comes to the pressures of achieving the current beauty trends, I'm free!

Belfast Telegraph