LA State of Mind (And Body)

Mark Hayes Irish Independent

So, one minute you’re at Starbucks in Beverly Hills waiting in line for your skinny café mocha frappe latte gibber, listening to two beautiful girls in tight yoga apple bottom pants talk to each other with their big voluptuous lips about how one uses cider vinegar in her beautiful blond hair and the other uses coconut cream in her hot brunette hair and doesn’t both of their hair look wonderful and you’re kind of agreeing that their hair is looking well but in fairness every part of them, hair to toe, is looking unreal because this is Beverly Hills, the land of glorious looking women, and then you decide you too should be looking well so you decide not to wait for your skinny café mocha frappe latte gibber drink any longer but instead drive straight home and run to your kitchen and whip out some vinegar and coconut oil spray because that’s the best you have and before you know it you’re lathering some concoction all over your damaged, split end, wild beast of an Irish head of hair and soon you’ll look just as good as them but then you realise how bad the vinegar and coconut spray smells so you do the first obvious sane thing that pops in your head and that is of course not to shower it all off because that would be an awful waste of vinegar and coconut but instead you spray your hair a few times with Febreze in order to drown out the foul stench and now, look, doesn’t my hair look just as good as those girls in Starbucks earlier except then you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and ask yourself what are you doing and you lose all your enthusiasm which is when you realise you could really do with a coffee so you go back to Starbucks and try to start your day all over again, but, at least now you’re doing so with beautiful, well-looked after hair. So. Boom. Welcome to L.A.

Ever since I moved here my knowledge of beauty tips and tricks has increased dramatically. Not out of going looking for them or anything, more the fact that you’re bombarded by beauty offers, self-help gurus, personal trainers and plastic surgery coupons on a daily basis. Wax this, shave that, moisturise here, spray tan there, pedicure, manicure, listen to the Cure, liposuction, nip, tuck, workout, don’t sweat, ick, smile, only half a smile, brush off, pout out, extensions in, reductions done, no conversations with ugly, negative people and then you’re ready to start the day, according to everything you see and read around here.

The other day I was at a lunch up in the Hills where far too many girls and guys in their early twenties kept comparing what kind of surgery they’ve had done and what more they hope to get. One Pamela Anderson looking blond girl mentioned she was about to spend $18,000 on a new nose, chin and breasts, as you do. As if she was trading in her old car for a new one. Apparently she needed to be ready for the rest of the parties she planned on going to this year. Couldn’t be older than 25 and looked good to me so I stupidly asked “Are you sure you need to get all that done?” This was met with eye-rolls, tongue-tuts, table slaps and high-pitched hyena laughter, all shaking their heads at the quaint, clueless, small town fool from Ireland.

“Of course I’m going to get it done, you need to turn up.”


“Don’t be basic.”

“Ah just making a joke, liven up.”

“Looking this good is no joke honey, don’t be basic.”

Everyone at the table seemed to take this as a cue to repeat the word “basic” at me, as if they were robot mannequins all glitching in sync. Felt like I was in a scene from Roald Dahl’s The Witches. They then told me what Groupon vouchers they thought I should get to improve my look, mainly just some Botox for my lips. Apparently mine are uneven and you can never have too big lips, whether you’re a guy or girl. So that was a fun lunch. I’ve since seen photos of the girl with her face swaddled in bandages and bruises so at least she’s true to her $18,000 word.

A good trick I noticed skinny girls do during a meal here is to order a dish, take a pretend-bite and then just push the extra small food portions around the plate as the meal continues. The messy plate gives the illusion that the expensive meal was somewhat eaten when really it wasn’t, so, pretty clever. Bulimia seems popular too.

Another great trick I’ve seen L.A girls do to look like they live regular lives and do actually eat is taking photos posing with various foods. Here’s me about to eat this burger, here’s me posing with a slice of pizza, here’s me about to eat all these cakes. They never actually eat the food they’re posing with, but at least they get plenty of likes on Instagram and really, isn’t that what life’s all about?

Besides Groupons for Botox, a popular craze here in West Hollywood is going to a place called Earth Bar, where they sell health juices, workout smoothies, and wellness shots all for exorbitant prices. People get dressed up in their best work out clothes and then come here to look good. The main reason it’s popular is probably because so many celebrities love it. Last time I popped in Demi Moore, Ari Gold from Entourage and Calvin Harris were all in the queue ahead of me. So that made paying $15 for a liquefied banana blended with ice and some wheat grass well worth it.

They then tried to sell me a small container of what looked like black tar that only cost $400 but “you could not put a price on the benefits you will feel!” Instead of telling me what these benefits might be, the sales guy with the Ken Barbie head and gleaming white smile started telling me how it was made from the feces of goats, sheep and bulls found in mountains somewhere in Middle Earth. “So you’re literally trying to sell me bulls@!t?” Ken’s eye started to twitch when I said this, so to keep him happy and stop him from turning into a glitching robot mannequin, I gladly accepted his free sample (tasted like what tar, feces and having no soul must taste like) and told him I’d have a think about it.

On the plus side of all this madness, I do enjoy living the healthy life. When I decided I was going to go to L.A and become the star we all know I shall be, I realised I needed to get in shape. After I finished up college in U.C.C in Cork and no longer played soccer a few times a week, the lack of exercise mixed with all the calzones, potatoes and boxes of cereal, along with my Mum’s fine selection of coffee cake, trifle and world famous Pavlova desserts, all started to catch up to me. Let’s just say I started to get a bit flabby. Blubbery. Flubbery around the edges.

So, I came up with a plan: Eat what I have to so I can drink what I want. Started eating healthy and working out in order to still be able to booze normally. Clever Irish way of doing it. Give it a whirl. I’m sure the likes of Colin Farrell must be doing the same. There’s no way you could be boozing as much as he did in L.A, eat like a normal person and still look fit as a fiddle. Unless I just have awful genes.

Speaking of Colin, apparently a few years back he thought that Irish women were very hairy compared to women in L.A. He probably has a point (he definitely does). I don’t think I’ve seen a patch of grass on an L.A woman’s field of dreams since I’ve been here. Even I have less hair on my body these days. I had a casting recently where they wanted someone with no chest hair, was that a problem? Looked at how much money was on offer and said, Of course not, no problem at all! Time for a quick trim. Then a bit more. Then some more. Hard to stop. Oh Jesus. Where did it go?

Only when I got to the casting office did I realise from the others there that they were also looking for someone who looked like Gerard Butler in 300. I had been slimming down for the role, schoolboy. Not a bit awkward being in the casting room with my top off doing the audition with another guy who looked like he strolled off a Calvin Klein ad (not a porn audition, by the way, haven’t hit those levels yet). Even though he had bigger pecs, arms and abs, looking like something sculpted out of marble, my hair was longer than his so, you know, one point for me.

The casting director did mention that maybe I should consider getting pec implants. It would be the easier and quicker fix. Something to mull over as I spend every spare moment I have staring in the mirror looking at my disgusting body. Not sure if I’d do it though, it’s basically a boob job for men. I did get good feedback on my teeth after the casting, “nice for an Irish person”, so that was great. Apparently people here think that Irish people’s teeth look like bits of Lego randomly sticking out of our gums. Some also think Ireland is a town in England so take no heed to what they say.

At least I didn’t have the flabby body of old so my Eat what I have to so I can drink what I want motto really worked out for me. My daily diet of chicken, porridge and chocolate protein powder shakes might be mundane but it is serving me well. Whenever I go home to Ireland I’m always amazed when someone is eating white bread “Jesus, you’re mad! Do you know how much starch is in that?!” I find most Irish people that come here to L.A embrace the healthier way of life. The big Sunday roast dinners are replaced with gluten free Sunday brunches, so that’s great.

At times it can be hard and a bit dull being around all these starving, health conscious, body obsessed nuts. Just not that much fun so one point to the Irish for being a way better laugh.

On the other hand, these dull, self-obsessed L.A girls do look pretty unreal, so it’s hard to call. Hot and dull or OK and happy? I think that’s the main difference I find between Irish and L.A women. Irish women from the age of about 26 on kind of start to look like homely mothers and jolly aunts, whereas in L.A, 40- and 50-year-old women look like hot 26-year-olds models and roam around looking glorious all day long. Which is mighty.

(If you Google Christie Brinkley you’ll see what I mean. Also, if you could Google what to do when your face has an allergic reaction to coconut, vinegar and Febreze, that’d be great, cheers. My face has turned puffy pink so now I look a bit like a bloated pig. Nice.)

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