Since the Labour Party conference earlier this month, my husband has been demanding that I "tidy myself up".
He seems to have been heavily influenced by the recent transformation of 39 Essex Street barrister Justine Thornton (Ed Miliband's wife) and is very keen for me to live up to what he terms my "first-lady potential".
Like Ms Thornton, I'm a successful barrister at a leading London chambers and the main breadwinner in my household; my husband is a "writer and artist" who "works" from home.
In the past, when we have gone out in the evenings or at the weekend, my husband has been happy for me to wear casual clothes. But now he is demanding that I don a red dress he's purchased (with my money) of a similar style to which Ms Thornton apparently wore at the Labour Party conference.
In addition, he has made a series of requests in relation to my hair, my weight, my make-up and "the way I hold myself in public".
It doesn't seem fair, somehow.
I'd be grateful for your advice.
My advice to Helen, delivered via the Auntie Em alter ego that remains foisted upon me, is below...
Of course, Justine sets a shining example to all us dowdy women. As the Mail Online, that bastion of truth, recently observed: "Previously heavy and slug-like, Justine's brows are now slim and perfectly arched around the eye."
The Mail also noted, under a dedicated section entitled "hair", that the Labour leader's wife has also changed her hair. "It shows a more glamorous side," journalist Liz Jones raves, "that she's sorely needed".
Justine's so-called transformation, from frumpy lump to glamour kitten, rightly proves how foolish we've all been, thinking that our work, our families, or even our personalities (ha!) are more important than appearances (SNORT!).
From your letter, I sense you feel that your husband's lack of alpha-male status precludes him from being able to make the same demands on you that Ed makes on his wife. One might go as far as to say that you believe he should get his finger out of his bottom and stick his deluded demands up there instead.
WRONG! Your dear hubby has every right to be worshipped without question, and the best way to make him happy is for you to look good. In fact, why not jack in that silly little job of yours altogether (admit it, it was only really a hobby to keep you occupied between running the kids to school and cooking dinner anyway) and devote yourself entirely to polishing up your appearance?
Your husband may resent the drop in his standard of living and having to move to a smaller home where he no longer enjoys regular meals. But he's bound to appreciate your devotion to his wishes, even as the last of your savings are spent on nail bars and celebrity-style blow dries.
Just be careful that all the attention you're paying to your appearance doesn't see you snapped up by a charming and equally well-groomed man, leaving your husband to have to fend for himself. That would never do.
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