I used to take pride in my appearance and go to great lengths to always look “presentable”. My nails were manicured, my hair was well-trimmed and blow-dried, and my footwear consisted of more than just Havaianas. I was a slave to high heels and would have no problem walking to work in two-inch pumps. Though nowadays – it’s time to confess – I more often than not can be seen sporting chipped nail polish, wavy air-dried hair that has not been coloured or trimmed in almost two years, and over-worn flips flops. I had heard of the term “Island Casual” but didn’t expect that I would succumb so easily. Oh, how the mighty have fallen… I have brought Island Casual to a whole new level, one that is, in all honesty, more lazy than casual.

There are many factors I could blame on the fall of my grooming standards from diva proportions, to minimalist, to now just plain old apathetic.

On one hand, one of the reasons I love living on Tortola most is the lack of vanity and materialism. Everyone I meet is warm and friendly and tends to care more about personality than if your handbag is on trend (which is particularly lucky for me, as most of my handbags are now covered in mold thanks to the humidity!). I have met people of all ages from all walks of life and have gained wonderful memories with new friends that will last a lifetime – none of whom care about my primping standards in the slightest.

Then there’s the sultry climate. The average “autumnal” temperature in Tortola is 81°F (27°C), so I don’t see much of a point in putting myself through the pains of using a hairdryer or wearing makeup. After five minutes in the heat, my hair frizzes up and the sweat causes little kinks to form in my freshly straightened hair. As for makeup, especially foundation, it literally melts and drips off my face. The tropical weather makes for a great day at the beach, but does not bode well when getting ready for a special occasion or when trying to look semi-professional in the workplace.

Though recent events have led to a renewed desire to revamp my primping process.  It took one particular incident to give me a wake-up call and force me to get with the grooming programme – this clearly has gone too far: This month, I ran out of shampoo and used Joy dishwashing liquid as a substitute in my hair for almost a week. Yes, I could have quite easily stopped by the shop and picked up shampoo – I’m in town every single day. But no, this was the no-muss, no-fuss version of me who was just too lazy.

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I made the mistake of sharing this with my pre-Tortola friends. My indolence was met with a torrent of horrified questions:

Doesn’t your hair feel like sandpaper?

Are you sure you’re not going to go bald?

Does Joy help with greasy hair? Is this intentional?

Do you want to borrow my shampoo?

Are you depressed or something?

Not only were they shocked that I even embraced Island Casual, but more concerning was the fact that I now deemed shampoo a non-necessity. This, from the girl who once spent $150 on a hair cut and highlights every two months, $15 a bottle on shampoo and conditioner, and $50 on a monthly hair masque. My hair dryer and straightener both cost around $200 and I once bought countless hair serums that cost a small fortune. I was a slave to my hair and would NEVER have even considered such a move before.

While I don’t miss the price tag of vanity, I actually do miss caring (at least a little) about my appearance. The old me would definitely whip out the tweezers, razor, and makeup case and call for an immediate aesthetic intervention. That still sounds a bit overwhelming for this Caribbean girl and while I’m not quite ready to re-subscribe to Vogue, I think it’s time for baby steps back in that direction. Perhaps to start, I’ll save the flip flops for the beach and not the boardroom…

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Written By:

Maura McBride

Current Rock of Residence:

Tortola, BVI

Island Girl Since:

2012

Originally Hails From:

The Right and Left of the Atlantic

Maura came to the British Virgin Islands on vacation last year and never left. A self-proclaimed sun worshipper, she dreads the day when the “real world” will beckon and she will have to migrate North once again. Island life is still a novelty and Maura gets alarmingly excited when she bumps into a friend unexpectedly – an occurrence that happens at least 5 times a day when you’re living on a 12-mile island. In a former life, high heels were a second skin and makeup was a staple of daily living. Nowadays, if she tries to wear anything other than flip flops, her feet will swell up and erupt into a thousand blisters. The wandering PR pro and freelance writer was born in New York and spent the last 15 years in Ireland so she is very excited to be warming her bones in the BVI after a lifetime of being cold.

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