SOME cruel online comments were directed at socialite Lisa Murphy following her appearance on RTE's 'Saturday Night Show' with her 'Dublin Housewives' co-stars at the weekend. The twitterati in particular were out in force, speculating about "work" the ex- girlfriend of dancer Michael Flatley and solicitor Gerald Kean may or may not have had done on her face and her body in recent years.
I won't repeat some of those hurtful comments here. I only hope that she ignores social media and the brigade of begrudgers in Ireland who have nothing better to do with their time than to be nasty.
Friends of mine know Lisa well as she is one of the kindest people they know. Always polite, sociable and great fun. In effect, they describe as, in company, a pretty regular girl, believe it or not.
During the boom years in Ireland, the nip and tuck industry in Ireland flourished, with a massive surge of clients in pursuit of designer bodies and perfect beauty.
There are no official figures available as to the extent of the industry here, as it is unregulated. However, back in 2006, at the height of the Celtic Tiger, one Dublin clinic reported a 200pc increase in business over a 12-month period. The same year, the cosmetic surgery market in Ireland was worth an estimated €25m. This doubled to €50m by 2009.
As belts tightened, however, and the good times ended, the demand for cosmetic surgery in Ireland dropped by a third. A good thing I would say.
The sad fact is that us women are slaves to image. We are under increasing pressure to look great and to stall the natural ageing process for as long as possible. Only a small minority of us resort to 'nip and tuck' procedures and Botox. But the vast majority of us do reach for the make-up bag every morning and wouldn't dare appear outside the front door without "putting the face on".
I put my hands up to say I am one of those women. Since the age of 22 (when I first learned about cosmetics – I was a late starter compared with these days when girls start slapping it on from the age of 12 or younger) I have had my daily make-up routine. I even put it on before I leave the house to go for a walk which, when you think about it, is ridiculous. I walk to exercise and get fresh air into my lungs, but I never thought before that I should also use it as an opportunity to let my skin breathe.
Recently a very close friend told me that I was wearing too much make-up and suggested I try to go without it occasionally. Initially I was hurt, but true friends are honest. I have started to appear outside the front door without the 'war paint' on every so often, and hey, I've survived the experience. I would even go as far as saying I have found it liberating.
It is sad to see young girls in particular under pressure to be done up to the nines all the time. I saw it with my own daughter who, from Junior Cert on, spent time every morning before school putting on make-up and straightening her hair. I know people with much younger daughters in first and second year caught up in the make-up trap, getting up extra early to go through the daily routine. They don't have the confidence and self-esteem to face the day without some form of foundation or blusher.
On the plus side make-up has its uses. Not all women are blessed with good skin and it can cover up a multitude. Looking good also gives us confidence. But beauty comes from within.
We can't reverse the ageing process, and it would be nice to be able to grow old gracefully. I am convincing myself that the more mature look can be appealing (I am on the wrong side of 40!). Wrinkles and lines can even be sexy. I have great admiration for a colleague who turned grey in her twenties and now, in her early 40s, has stopped dyeing her hair. She looks amazing.
While I won't resort to throwing away the hair dye for now, I have promised to wear make-up less often. And maybe, just maybe, I will have the courage to change the photograph accompanying this article some day to one of me without make-up. But please don't hold me to a deadline.