Karen

1. If you wear makeup, why do you wear makeup and how often do you wear makeup?

I'm addicted to beauty blogs and I love playing with products but I don't really wear make up - my skin is too dry for foundation, and I don't think I suit lipstick etc. For confidence, I use a light self tan on my face, and a wee rub of pink blusher most days. If I go without for a while, people enquire after my health. In the Eighties I rocked the red lippy look - wish I had taken more photos!

2. What made you want to participate in this portrait series?

I've wanted a close up portrait for ages and I'm rubbish at selfies. I love Kristie's work, her women are so intriguing and I wanted some of that. Maybe to see myself a bit differently.

 

3. Is being completely makeup free something that makes you feel in any way uncomfortable?

No, not at all. If anything I feel weird and self conscious with it on. But I do have my 'armour', like most women. Haircut, jacket, shoes, whatever. Only my immediate family and occasionally my postman see me totally raw.

4. Are there specific factors (positive or negative) that have influenced how you feel about how you look?

Aye, millions. I'm not bothered by my graveyard teeth or my monkey mouth - I've always got by on character. But my body shape is a constant obsession, and I go through an endless cycle of acceptance and disgust when it comes to my weight. I love food so dieting is difficult  - well, mostly impossible for me. I love exercise but there always seem to be other priorities calling me. I'm strong and healthy and I know I'm meant to be grateful for that but I'd love to wave goodbye to a stone or so. Then I swear I'd never moan again.  Ever. 

5. If there was one piece of advice for the future you could give your younger self, what would it be?

Don't wear white below the waist. Or red anywhere.  Looking back, my clothes have been quite frumpy in the past. Now that I'm older I wear a bikini on holiday and a
skirt on a sunny day here. What a waste of my youth to be lolling around in black tights in August! I think the main advice is to remember that most people are far too concerned about their own image to be analysing yours, so don't panic over every little detail. Others just don't see them.

6. When have you felt most empowered in your life?

I have a brilliant memory of a trip I took to Rothesay on the Isle of Bute many years ago. My work had asked me to go and see an old lady there. It was the sunniest, clearest day, and the ferry journey was magical. I remember the seagulls flying along with us. When I got there, a piper was waiting to greet the ferry - it was like stepping into an Oor Wullie cartoon. The old lady was an absolute darling and so happy to see me. I just remember thinking 'this is my job - my life!' and feeling so happy, grown up and grateful. Generally, I feel most empowered when I'm tootling about on my own around the streets I love or when travelling. I'm never bored, I was born to potter.

7. Is there a woman fictional or real that you admire? Why?

The fictional girls of my childhood still inspire me now. Harriet the Spy, Ramona the Pest, Laura Ingalls Wilder. They had so much charisma and character. I can't imagine that the authors set out to write classics that would endure down generations, they just wrote about themselves and the girls they saw around them. You're never alone when your friends are in books. If I can give my son one gift it will be the love of reading, the gift my mum gave me.

8. What quality do you most admire in yourself?

Blimey. Well, firstly I can make people laugh. And, I'm pretty reliable. Also I give good advice. Or at least, it sounds like good advice. Bring me your problems!

9. Is there an achievement you are particularly proud of? Why?

I never knew a day of self doubt until my son was born, and then I fell apart. My personality disappeared overnight and I developed horrific anxiety and depression. I had brilliant support around me, and I got treatment which sorted me out pretty quickly. But for a while there I genuinely wanted to die, which is a world of pain I couldn't ever imagine seeing. I feel now like the real me is back, but I'm forever altered by what happened. I think I have learned a swift and brutal lesson in humility.  I survived and my son is a loved, cherished happy boy. My survival and his growth and development are on ongoing achievement I'll never take for granted.

10. In daily life what are the pressures you feel most exposed to specifically as a woman?

Everybody criticises women - men and women alike. Mothers get blamed while dads get a free pass. Nobody gives a toss when men put weight on or drink a bit too much on a night out. Most of it rolls off my back but its so crap for mothers of small kids because you're performing your role in such a public way. I'm rubbish at discipline, my kid runs rings round me and I can feel the eyes of the world on me when I fail at parenting out and about. If I'm honest, I stayed at home more than I should when Murray was very small rather than risk a tantrum in public as I found it so anxiety inducing. I still don't take him to supermarkets, I'd rather just eat toast and get something fresh next time I'm shopping alone. My partner does not feel like this - he gets admiring looks just for having our son with him at all! He's Super Dad but I'm just a mum. My own mum had three of us under five, my head explodes just thinking about it.