One evening in May, Jo Ann, Connie and I went to the Delta Bessborough Hotel for the annual launch of the Beautiful You, a makeover program run by the Star Phoenix, our city newspaper. There are nine members of the Beautiful You team, and each of them had a display stand and prizes to be won. We wandered from stall to stall, entering all the competitions and eating the refreshments; we bargained with each other over the prizes, and collected goodie bags of free samples. There was live entertainment in the huge room next door, and then speeches by the Star Phoenix editorial team and the local businesses who are part of the makeover program. Finally, Margaret, the Beautiful You candidate for the yea,r was unveiled, and made a speech outlining the transformation that she had undergone for the previous nine months. She looked amazing. There were before-and-after photos of Margaret and the eight candidates that had gone before her, and I can honestly say that some of them were unrecognisable.
So then the fun began. “You’ve got to enter”, said Jo Ann firmly. “No. Way.”, I replied. “Go on, it would be great if you won!”, said Connie. “All you need to do is fill in the application form and have a full-length photo taken.” A full-length photo? After ten years of avoiding cameras like the plague? “Not on your nelly”, I reiterated. “But sure just give it a go, and if you hear from them, that’s great, and if you don’t, nothing lost!” I was losing ground. The photographer was waiting for the next victim, and glancing over to see who was going to win our argument. “Just DO IT, eh?” said Jo Ann, shoving an application form into my hand, and I was propelled over to Jeff, feeling ridiculously self-conscious. I smiled, he snapped, I filled in the form outlining why I’d like to win and we left to eat ice-cream at the Cold Stone creamery in Tim Horton’s on 4th Avenue.
Four weeks later, I was pulling wet laundry out of the machine when the phone rang upstairs. I cursed and stamped up to answer it. It wasn’t on the cradle, naturally, so I tracked it down and issued an abrupt “Hello?”. “Hi, is this Barbara? this is Denise from the Star Phoenix”. Why on earth is the newspaper calling me? I thought, having forgotten about the contest altogether. She was ringing to invite me to an interview as one of the final four candidates selected. I couldn’t believe it. The interview was the following week, and I went along nervously. The room seemed to be full of people, and they all had their own questions to ask. We chatted for about an hour, and then Jeff whisked me upstairs for more photos, including a couple of me baring my teeth like a horse. Very attractive.
A few days later, while I was still in the middle of sorting laundry (I need a laundry elf), Denise rang to ask me would I like to be the Beautiful You. I was flabbergasted (and tearful). It’s an incredible opportunity, a once-in-a-lifetime chance to attempt Yummy Mummyhood. I met Denise and Jeannie at the Star Phoenix the following day, and accepted their offer gratefully. So last month, the whirlwind of appointments and consultations began. I have been given a VIP membership at Fitness for 10, a gym on 8th Street that only costs 10 dollars a month. My new personal trainer (!) Amanda (of A-team Training) will work with me there, and I can bring a guest with me to the gym each time I go. I started a new diet with Simple Solutions Weight Loss Clinic on 8th Street last month, and I’m down a stone already. It’s the Ideal Protein diet, which involves replacing breakfast and lunch with special high-protein packs, and then eating my own meal of protein and vegetables for dinner. Jaedean is my nutritionist, and she fizzes with energy and positive thinking.
FYI Doctors on 22nd Street are my new opticians, and will be supplying me with glasses, sunglasses and maybe contacts if I can summon up the courage to use them. Wes Antosh of Saskatoon Smiles on Central Avenue has the dubious pleasure of looking after my teeth – I usually start hyperventilating before I even sit in the chair. Sandbox in the City on Broadway will supply me with outfits for the monthly photo-shoots, and I’ll be getting shod in Durand’s Footwear on 2nd Avenue each month as well. Paulette in Merle Norman Beauty on 2nd Avenue will be providing manicures, pedicures and make-up lessons, and will be doing my make-up for the photo-shoots. The hairdresser who’s been given the task of doing something constructive with my mad hair is Joy of Visions Salon and Spa; she’s looking forward to the challenge and I’m looking forward to seeing what it’ll be like not to look like I’ve come through a hedge backwards. Belle Sante Cosmetic Clinic on Queen Street have started me on a skincare regime with their Biophora products, and will be doing loads of things that I’d never heard of, like IPL, and microdermabrasion. I’ll have laser hair removal and non-surgical face-lifts, and anything else that they think I might need to transform my skin.
So that’s the prize, and I can’t believe that they chose me. Of course, it’s kind of a double-edged sword, isn’t it? I’m officially the haggiest woman in Saskatoon :-). Or all of Saskatchewan, even, if I want to boast about it. Next year, though, I’m hoping to be svelte, toned, and glowing, with a funky haircut, expertly-applied make-up; gleaming teeth and trendy glasses, gorgeous clothes and shoes, and nine months of stories and experiences. With any luck I’ll have adapted to the lack of chocolate by then.
There are links below to the team who will be with me until next May, and some have before-and-after pictures of previous winners. I’ll be writing an online blog for the newspaper, and every month there will be articles in the Star Phoenix about my progress, with the monthly photo-shoot on display for everyone to see the transformation as it’s happening.
The official Before picture: