Would YOU have a bottom lift
One of the many depressing things about turning 40 is the amount of sheer hard work required in order to leave the house without frightening people.
Every year from 30 onwards, yet another area of my body I’d previously barely noticed before – eyebrows, upper arms, neck – seem in need of a Forth Bridge-style maintenance programme.
However, the one thing I’ve generally never paid attention to is my rear end, which I’ve pretty much ignored on the basis that what I can’t directly see in the mirror doesn’t need to trouble me.
Cheeky: Kathryn undergoing
treatment at The Lifehouse Country Spa Resort
I know it’s there, I know it’s got cellulite and I know it now sits rather closer to the floor than it did ten years ago. But then there was a certain Royal Wedding. Ever since she shimmied out in that bridesmaid’s dress, Pippa Middleton has put bottoms back in the spotlight.
What with that and all those lovely figure-hugging vintage style dresses that are back in fashion, the bottom ante has been well and truly upped. Against that backdrop, it seems it’s time to do something more than press my bottom against the jets in the gym whirlpool spa to keep things in shape.
Even so, when I heard about a new treatment that claims to perk up tired old bottoms, I was circumspect, not least because we’ve been here before with all those ‘miracle’ cellulite creams.
Nearly done: Therapist Juliette applies a 'booty masque', thin bandage-like layers called modelage, which harden into a sort of cast after 20 minutes
In a sense, the Body Shaping Tone Zone makes similar claims – the 60-minute procedure will, it promises, detox, tone, lift and tighten. It’s a bit like an upside-down facial. That’s not all, though: at the end of the treatment you are presented with a ‘booty masque’, a thing not dissimilar to a plaster of Paris cast of your behind, by way of a souvenir.
It is on this basis then, that I toddle
off to the Lifehouse Spa in Essex, the only place in the country that
offers the Tone Zone and Booty Masque, to give it a try. There,
in the manner of all spa-related activities, I find myself encased in
fluffy towels in one of their womb-like treatment rooms, albeit face
down with bottom exposed, one cheek at a time, to preserve what’s left
of my modesty.
Memory: Kathryn with the souvenir cast of her bottom
Indeed, the process is not dissimilar to a facial, except in place of the traditional cleanse, exfoliate, moisturise ritual, this treatment follows the cleanse with a body brush and vigorous massage of the upper thighs and bottom.
This, my therapist Carla tells me, is to boost circulation and eliminate toxins so my bottom will feel firmer and smoother. Next, a toning algae powder is mixed with a conditioning body pack and applied all over my bottom and upper thighs, again with the aim of dispersing toxins and introducing powerful deep sea minerals to my ecosystem.
The ‘booty masque’, which goes on next, is actually a way of helping the body pack work more efficiently, by trapping in my body heat. It’s applied in thin bandage-like layers called modelage, which are dampened and draped over my contours and which, like plaster of Paris, harden into a sort of cast after 20 minutes.
It’s all strangely relaxing, although there’s no getting away from the fact that there’s a slightly surreal quality to proceedings, given that the rest of the treatment is effectively spent waiting for the cast to harden.
‘Like waiting for a cake to rise,’ says Carla, who takes my mind off my bottom-related anxieties by giving me a back massage. She tells me the booty masque has proved extremely popular in the year since its launch, with most women having it done before going on holiday.
My relaxation is interrupted by a sharp knock – that’s Carla tapping her knuckles on my bottom to see if the booty masque has set. She deftly peels away my cast, leaving behind a bottom which, I have to say, does feel peachier and firmer to the touch – and possibly even a centimetre higher.
Pippa Middleton's royal wedding performance brought bottoms back into the spotlight, well and truly upping the ante
The masque, however, is rather an odd thing, like a sliver of mummified bandages. I’m horrified by its immense size – how did I not notice my bottom was 4ft wide! – until Carla points out that the cast is still faintly flexible and she’s holding it out flat. She has her own booty masque in pride of place in her bathroom at home (but then why wouldn’t she She’s young and drop-dead gorgeous).
Other women, in the manner of pregnancy bump sculptures, spray theirs gold or silver and display them in their bedrooms. In my case, the last thing I need is a permanent reminder of my bottom, especially if it grows bigger with every passing year.
Instead, I decide to take home a temporarily peachier derriere, leaving my booty masque forlornly propped up against one of the spa’s bins.
The Body Shaping Tone Zone, 65, The Lifehouse Country Spa Resort, 01255 860 050, lifehouse.co.uk.