Make-up, Truth, and Prudence
I'm not keen on people wearing too much slap. This is a personal preference purely about personal taste, not anything else. Make-up is morally neutral. I say this because there is a point in the story of I Am Not Gog where make-up is allegorically associated with truth, whereas some folk might rather associate make-up with a sort of dishonesty (making you appear different to how you truly are). I don't see it that way, and I'll explain why in a bit. I first need to introduce three minor characters to you, all with some meaning to their names, who in some way support or help Lydia: Pru, Verity, and Bronya. The first, Pru the landlady, has a very straightforward meaning, even obvious. Her name is short for Prudence, and she offers just that at a critical point when Lydia doesn’t know how to move forward, let alone which direction to move forward in. Pru gives her wise counsel, what I think is wise counsel, anyway – I’m sure there are some who would think it is terrible counsel and Lydia should not only wash her hands of Joshua, but probably report him to the police, too, but we can agree to differ about that. Pru is there for Lydia at three important crises. They become quite attached, which itself represents Lydia’s own growth in wisdom and discernment. Verity the hair-stylist runs her own hair and beauty salon. Her name means ‘truth’. She is apt to tell it how it is, and she is quite brutal in assessing Lydia’s look before her makeover. Bronya comes in to do make-up when required. Hers is a Polish name meaning ‘armour’ or ‘protection’. Both these names reference the allegorical strand drawing on Ephesians 6:10-17, which I also touch upon here in regards to the allegorical hierarchy of evil within the novel. The belt of truth being the first part of the ‘armour of God’ that Paul exhorts the Ephesians to don. In the salon, with the washing of her hair, Lydia receives a sort of baptism. She has just had the ritual of repentance in the woods, and now she wants to take on her new life, as her new self, reborn. Verity and Bronya help to bring Lydia’s appearance up to a standard that better reflects her inner beauty, truer to her inner self. As I said earlier, some puritans might argue that make-up and makeovers are a form of deception, but you don’t have to see it like that. She has hitherto neglected her appearance, which was a symptom of a malaise imposed upon her, not a reflection of her inner self. The two stylists make the best of her. And she is made new, ready to face her new life with the protection of a new (visual) identity. As she moves forward in her new life, bearing her implied armour of God, she also comes to attain greater truth in other ways, with Pru making sure she keeps heading in the right direction. Pru happens to be a woman who wears a lot of make-up, but that has no significance morally or symbolically – it's just her personal preference.