Upon embarking on my first ever Business of Beauty awards (affectionately referred to as BOB), I'll admit I was nervous. Past attendees described shenanigans so wild, so unruly and so outrageous that I wasn’t sure I’d be cut out for it. And in some regards they weren’t wrong.
In the months, weeks and days leading up to BOB the excitement within IMAGE HQ built at a steady rate. As the votes came in at unprecedented levels, and the table bookings rolled in to match, we knew this was going to be bigger than we ever imagined.
What I expected
Being a “BOB virgin”, I wasn’t quite sure about what to expect. I thought there might be booze-fuelled cat fights, dinner table squabbles and maybe even some bathroom scraps over contouring methodology, but the reality transpired into something different entirely.
No matter how hard I snooped and scoured the room for some story-worthy scandal, all I came across were groups of friends who seemed to be having the time of their lives. If people weren’t doing a rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” on stage, or nominating their pal to win the coveted “Best Dressed” prize or crying tears of joy at a colleague winning a hugely deserved gold award, then they were showing off their tan lines in a competition to win a photo shoot (don’t ask).
I am someone who prides themself in placing value on people’s integrity as opposed to material or physical attributes, but that went out the window as the BoB guests arrived. The level of beauty frankly left me speechless.
One after another the women glided in like silky, slinky, powdered celestial beings who had just landed in from "Planet Glam". And the male guests were just as wow-worthy as the women (in a few cases, even more so), donning perfectly coiffed hair, waxed moustaches and very, very shiny shoes.
The sheer immaculacy of these women – and men’s – faces was mind-boggling to me. I found myself stupefied by the way their cheekbones caught the light, light which often beamed from their fellow guests incredibly white teeth. As someone who knows very little about beauty, the impression I got is that “bigger is better” for lips, breasts, eyelashes and hair volume, whilst the opposite is true for waists, wrinkles, and tan lines.
As far as outfits go, these attendees were dressed to kill, and “slay” they certainly did. Statement reds were dotted amongst fierce blacks and delicate pastel pinks, and the outfits came in every style and shape; from black tie to boho, and a few racy side-boobs and thigh-high slits thrown in the mix, too.
I lost count of how many “Instagram boyfriends” I spotted, and I’d like to take a moment to applaud the incredible patience they displayed as they obediently followed their beloved’s instructions. The inordinate range of angles they were able to incorporate to get that perfect shot was impressive; evidently, this was not their first rodeo.
“Ok, now get one of me as I walk ahead of you. And be sure to get my flawlessly-tanned, toned and fully-exposed back as you do it, ok?” was more-or-less, word for word what I heard one beauty blogger sweetly simper to her ever-obliging boo.
Let the show begin
The official proceedings began with a performance by Paul Ryder and his dancers to the aptly titled “this is the greatest show” song from The Greatest Showman blockbuster. Paul took to the stage like a creature whose sole purpose was to put the “sass” in sass-quatch, and the performance was nothing short of incredible.
Darren Kennedy and Melanie Morris were the MCs for the night, let it be known that commanding the attention of 800 rambunctious guests is no easy task, but if anyone was going to do it, it was these two. And because these awards are not taken lightly the room quietened suitably with each announcement. Said silence was then followed by an eruption of screams and shouts and Spice Girls-style high kicks when the various winners were announced, which was heartening, and a testament to how much the win meant.
There were only a few instances where some noticeable shade was thrown when a rival business or professional won a coveted prize… Shade so subtle, so slight that you’d have to be standing with your back against a wall, specifically seeking it out for the purpose of spicing up an article the following day, to pick it up.
Behind the scenes/ the reality of BOB
Behind the scenes in the bathroom I remember seeing a girl who had found herself in the unfortunate situation of having her dress zip ripping. Had she not been surrounded by such a community of proactive, assertive, solution-oriented individuals, she would’ve had to accept her fate: an evening spent giving fellow guests a glimpse of her Spanx.
But as one girl marched over to pull the seams together, and another applied safety pins with surgical accuracy, it became apparent that this girl (and her Spanx) would be spared.
Selfies and side boobs and competitive shade aside, what this awards ceremony comes down to is a celebration of professionals who think outside the box and use their skills to join forces and surpass expectations.
So just as midnight was about to ring out, I went out to catch a final glimpse of this wild and wonderful crowd as they filtered out onto the Burlington road. Women teetering away, their goody bags in one hand, stiletto heels in another, with renditions of “this is the greatest showwww” ringing out between the taxi-hailing, at that pooint the only thing I felt was missing was a deep voice uttering “Carlsberg don’t do business of beauty awards, but if they did…”