I lie in the bath, the water laps each curve, each roll of fat; I am considering my shape and I think about what is real, what is not. The fat is a product of generations of bad diet, from aristocracy to penury in my family. Even my heart is a cocktail of drugs, without them and it is a lost gamble between a stroke or a heart attack. The medication keeps my arteries supple, my blood pressure manageable but my back is a minefield. Before I slid into a bath like the reverse of a whale beaching itself I shaved my neck, now clean below my beard I wonder why we alter our appearance, with a blade, a scent, a brush. We play mannequins, though no shop window would want me in my present tired state. The beard is my only real part, not even my eyes are my own, I wear glasses, I alter my appearance every two years. I get new eyes. I take them off, I get new eyes. I put them on, I get new eyes. A new look. An altered look.
We have been altering our appearance since we moved from the dark and into the sun, when we saw colourful birds we used our bow and arrows to bring them down into the mud with us. We donned their feathers. We wanted to be angels. Smooth and beautiful to behold. Fast forward 250,000 years and we mask how we smell, block our pores with carcinogenic products, watch flawless but ultimately dim people on the television; for producers know that if they are beautiful and orange, they need to be stupid to make us feel better or to make idiocy something to achieve. Six packs and stupidity seem to go hand in hand in television land. We all consider shape, at our desks, by the water cooler, over cake, and maybe this detachment from our flaws through humour or through makeup, perfume, aftershave, surgery is how we interact with the world around us, from emotion to nature, from nurture to science, we can slap a band aid on it, keep back the shapes that haunt our nightmares, cut them out. For this alteration is the run from the darkness, it started with the fire and is presently with us as gastric bands and trout faced lips that forever pout at the latest mobile phone camera. Now we run from darkness, as always it is in nature, altering rather than adapting, plastered with horrors by us; from chemical sprays to the atom bomb, from plastics to over breeding, it bites back and we slap a label on it, climate change, and we create fashionable lists on how to survive, but like all alterations it costs, from the best makeup to the sweetest scents, to the brands we sneer at and those we lap up even though the same product it built in the same factory and all it takes to get us to fork more out is a label, a celebrity, a fake shape poured before the camera. As always those that can afford it will survive the longest but soon there will be no trickle down, no knock off products because when these products fail it will reveal only your true shape, our lack of adaptation and our belief in alterations.