Plastic Surgery and Me? Well…

An update on that invitation to appear on BBC's Woman's Hour. With some terrible pictures...

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Jane C Woods, aged 59 years and 4 weeks. My first selfie!

I might just have mentioned (ahem) that I was in London last week to do a wee slot on BBC’s Woman’s Hour. As well as being a great deal of fun (and it’s fabulous to meet your heroes and realise they are just as lovely as you always hoped), it also gave me an unexpected insight into the world of female celebrity woes.

I confess, I am a mediumly vain sort of person. I brush my hair every morning, sometimes apply make up, but then tend not to look at myself for the rest of the day, truly, even when I go to the bathroom. I’ve even almost grown out of the paranoia about my hair going frizzy in the damp and my teeth catching the flash from cameras, (major obsessions in teens and early adulthood – the time I wasted!)

So when my husband suggested that we could walk from our hotel to the BBC Broadcasting House in the heart of Central London I happily agreed. It was a beautiful autumn morning and only a few minutes walk. Yes, I could feel my hair curling off my head in the dampness but I didn’t care. It was radio!

We arrived, were shown to the green room and met the other contributors. A photographer arrived to take a picture of myself and Dr Nicola Rollock; together we were reviewing the Listeners Week on Woman’s Hour. I did notice that Nicola was immaculately coiffed and ran my fingers somewhat wildly though my hair to lift it’s clinging tendrils off my face, but that was sum total of my efforts. We were taken into a corridor for the pictures, both laughing, and I thought no more about it. Do let us have the photos we gaily called as we returned to the Green Room.

Our session with Dame Jenny Murray was wonderful and flew by in an instant. As the serial came on I asked her if we could take a picture with her. Glancing at it I thought vaguely that my hair had turned white on the way on the studio, but never mind; I had control over who saw this photo (everyone who follows me on Twitter as it happens!) This is it below:

A day or so later I saw the picture the photographer had taken. I honestly think it is the worst picture of me ever taken…to date. No offence to the photographer; she can only work with the material she’s given. And then I saw that it was displayed on the BBC website. I will tell you honestly, dear reader, my first thought was ‘Crikey, I don’t want anyone to see that!‘. My second thought was ‘get over yourself, you talked with Jenny Murray!

But it has seriously made me think. I occasionally idly flick through celebrity type magazines at the hair dresser. There are a couple which seem to delight in snapping the most unflattering pictures of women that they can, and it’s almost always only women who get the ‘bad hair day’ treatment. For some reason Dawn French seems to be in the frame at the moment (literally). There were a plethora of photos of her in all sorts of unflattering guises, like walking to shops in the rain etc. Photos over which she had no control. I began to understand why sometimes people in the public eye get obsessed with how they look.

For women it is a minefield. I’ve written on it often and on my belief that airbrushed photos should carry a disclaimer saying:

‘This photo has been doctored to show a false image of womanhood, one the advertisers prefer as it means they get to sell more cosmetics, promote slimming clubs etc. This misrepresentation of what real women, including mature women, look like is a significant part of a sexist culture which leads to surveys by Institute of Leadership and Management concluding that one reason women don’t progress into senior posts is a lack of confidence. Plus false female foto syndrome (FFFS just made that up!) contributes to a culture of gender discrimination which has a direct impact on women being under represented at all levels in society!’

From my lofty position of no one giving a fig what I look like, and certainly no paparazzi hanging around outside my house waiting to see me in my (torn) nightie getting in the milk, I can easily say, women should not worry what they look like. But, if if my income depended on it, if I were caught up in the world where women’s looks are paramount and dissected at every turn? I begin to have a glimmer of understanding of how this can erode your confidence on a daily basis. With all the wisdom of being 59 I know I’d rise above it, as does the wonderfully talented Dawn French. But at 29, how would it have affected me then…?

Note to self: be less judgemental, more understanding.

PS The picture that my 29 year old self would have wanted to hide...

PPS The ‘selfie’ at the top is me just a few hours later, (look no white hair) in proud Mum mode off to see last night of New Old Friend’s tour of the Falcon’s Malteser, starring my son and daughter in law! Which was totally brilliant.

You might enjoy reading Should airbrushed women be allowed?

RenewYou is my one day course, written for real women, and available across the UK and in Pakistan, USA, Australia, Thailand, Canada, Belgium, South Africa…

Jane C Woods

Women's Personal Development Specialist - Changing People, -

Hi, I’m Jane C Woods and I have an absolute passion for helping women achieve success in their lives. Be it the glass ceiling, the crystal maze, or very personal issues, I’m all about helping women achieve to their full potential and live the way they want to without being carbon copies of men. But I’m not about putting men down in order for women to get ahead, there’s plenty of room; I just want the guys to shifty up a bit… If my face looks familiar it's because I love Psychologies magazine (I've been buying it since the very first issue, such a good resource) and it's the only place I choose to advertise my courses. I write on women’s issues on my blog,, and am regularly featured in magazines, and on radio, but I’m probably best known for RenewYou. RenewYou is my one day personal development course for women. We have an international network of experienced, specialist women licensed to deliver it and empower women across the globe. Our goal is to reach one million women. It’s a big goal but… In 2013 we started with a single RenewYou specialist, me. Now you can find a RenewYou Courses across the UK, in the USA, Canada, Greece, Bangkok, Pakistan, South Africa, Belgium, with new countries being added all the time. My dream was to create a thriving and caring business on ethical, and dare I say, feminine terms, with a real community spirit of help and encouragement. And it’s actually happening with the support, expertise, and enthusiasm of my wonderful trainers. I think, (apart from my two lovely kids, a daughter and a son) that it’s probably my proudest achievement to date. Wonderful Changing People Women: One of the joys and privileges of my work is that I’ve connected with some really inspirational and wonderful women – from politics to entertainment to academia. They include: TV presenter, house fixer and matchmaker Sarah Beeny Amazing entrepreneur Sam Roddick of Coco de Mer Outspoken and entertaining academic Mary Beard Politicians like Siobhan Benita and Natalie Bennett Ex BBC broadcaster Miriam O’Reilly who bravely took on the might of the BBC- and triumphed A very rare interview with Sarah Montague, of the influential BBC Radio 4 Today programme I hope you like the posts and I hope they are helpful. Live life to the max and never hide your light under any bushels!


Go to the profile of Suzy Walker
about 7 years ago
I think you look beautiful! x
Go to the profile of Jane C Woods
about 7 years ago
Ah darling, you are very kind. Interesting experience, loved it!