I am reading an amazing book right now – Zadie Smith’s On Beauty. This passage struck a very strong chord with me as I read it on my commute to the office this morning:

“Why are there no awards for the girl who starves herself through the Christmas period – refusing all sweetmeats, roasts and liqueurs offered to her – so that she might appear at the January formal in a backless dress and toeless shoes, although the temperature is near to freezing and the snow is heavy upon the ground? Howard, who wore a floor-length overcoat, gloves, leather shoes and a thick college scarf, stood by Emerson’s front gate and watched with real awe the mist of white flakes falling upon bare shoulders and hands, the clothed men holding their near-naked, decorative partners as together they stepped around puddles and snowdrifts like ballroom dancers on an assault course. They all looked like princesses – but what steel must lurk within!”

Any girl worth her salt who has attended a winter formal in her lifetime can surely relate.