I remember the curved carved wood, shiny with polish. Shaped like a kidney, it would envelope my mother as she sat on the cushioned stool and did magic woman stuff.

My mother’s dressing table was a source of great excitement and pleasure for me when I was little. The deep drawers held all sorts of lady things – clips and brushes; jewellery and the occasional lost button; letters and pictures my brothers and I had presented to my mom; makeup old and new; nail varnish and sharply smelling acetone; balls of cotton wool and tissues with lipstick streaks.

To a little girl this was lady heaven.

I remember kneeling on the cushioned stool, leaning in towards the three mirrors, twisting and turning the articulated side mirrors the better to see the back of my head.

I remember applying powder to my small face with a sponge, and blue eye shadow with my finger. I’d smudge and blend and think I was beautiful; that I looked like a lady. In reality I probably looked like a nine year old whore – but reality had no place at the dressing table.

 This was where my mom sat and turned from Mommy into a Lady. It was the secret place that boys didn’t share.  It was what I aspired to own one day – when I was all growed up.

 So few people have dressing tables anymore. We keep out ‘lady’ supplies in bathroom cupboards and apply makeup using the mirror above the sink, often competing for space with a shaving man. The process of turning from our home selves into our dressed up party selves is so much less of a ritual now; no slow luxurious time at the dressing table. Rather it’s a quick shower and then a shared bathroom.

I wonder what we as women have lost by relinquishing this most feminine of spaces?

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