My Beauty Icon: Angel from Home and Away

Angel 2

Writer Anna Hart found her ultimate goddess not on the silver screen, but on a low-rent Australian soap

I’ll never forget the day teen runaway Angel Brooks arrived in Summer Bay, and introduced herself to Home & Away viewers and her floppy-haired future husband, Shane, by flogging the poor idiot fake Frente! concert tickets.


Here, in 1993 and on a mainstream soap, was the cool older sister I never had, a girl who looked different yet still looked, you know, AMAZING. With her tie-dyed velvet waistcoats, embroidered peasant dresses, leather thong necklaces from Bali and hair in 1970s hippy-braids, Angel delivered just the right amount of rebellion and edge, while remaining conventionally fanciable and non-bitchy-looking. I was a 13-year-old Belfast schoolgirl who liked Bjork, Nirvana and virtually any band from the 1970s, and I didn’t want to look like Agent Scully or a single one of the Spice Girls. This was the look I’d been waiting for.


Before you start, I know that there are more groundbreaking 1990s beauty icons. But Angel was the first woman I looked and thought, ‘Hang on, I might just be able to pull that off.’ Don’t forget that Angel and Shane played out their tragicomic existences in the mid 1990s; Christy, Cindy, Naomi, Linda, Nadia and Kate weren’t exactly easy for a schoolgirl to emulate. I was used to staring wistfully at images of glamorous untouchables, thinking, with adolescent yet accurate gloom, ‘I’ll never look like that.’


But Angel’s look was refreshingly accessible and low-maintenance. Her blondish hair just a few bottles of Sun-In away. When she dyed her hair kind-of-maroon, I reached straight for a sachet of Inecto Hint of a Tint in Burgundy. Plus her hairstyle repertoire was easily mastered: you either let it dry and just hang in a centre-parting with thin plaits tickling your chin OR you did two Whigfield-esque plaits the moment you stepped out of the shower. I blame Angel for the fact that I didn’t own a hairdryer until 2011, and still only have two hair ‘dos’: down (unbrushed, unblowdried) and up (often in a plait.)


Angel’s wardrobe already resembled mine, consisting of vaguely 1970s-inspired peasant dresses and tie-dyed leggings imported from Thailand and sold, in Belfast, in a shop called Fresh Garbage, which also stocked incense, bongs, magic eye posters and any merchandise whatsoever with a marijuana leaf printed on it.


Then there was Angel’s face (or rather that of the beautiful and now mega famous actress Melissa George), which taught me a valuable lesson in beauty: the ‘natural look’ is not the same as wearing no make-up, as I’d innocently believed. In fact it required a ton of Rimmel tea-tree infused concealer, Body Shop bronzing pearls, Barry M brown kohl and Boots Natural Collection tinted lipbalm in Berry. But it was worth it, for the confidence I got from stepping into character at the bathroom mirror every morning, to the sound of Chris Evans and Gaby Roslin bickering on The Big Breakfast. Angel’s not-quite-natural look also steered me away from heavy foundation (I still don’t wear it) and that godawful brown lipliner trend, and taught me to cherish my heavy emoticon-dash eyebrows in a tweezer-happy age.


Even today, when I see pics of fashionable celebs with flowing hair and floaty dresses missing bands at Coachella or striding with Starbucks soya lattes through Portobello Market, I think: ‘She is SO ripping off Angel.’ Sienna Miller, Kate Moss, every female Jagger; they’re all Angel-alikes to me.


At least I’m honest enough to admit the true source of my inspiration, and accept that I’ve been a poor imitation of Angel ever since (I even tried to learn to surf, but only bruised my chins). I see little reason to deviate from Angel’s beachy, boho, lazy hippy chick schtick, and really only do so for job interviews and my Chanel red lipstick.


Yes, there are plenty of other women I would love to look like, but in beauty as in life, you have to work with what you’re given. I’ve got blondish hair, apple cheeks, an unshakeable obsession with 1970s rock music and an aversion to spending more than 15 minutes in front of the mirror. Angel I can do.


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