Mother would be proud of me. I “fixed” my face today. Lately I’ve become a little lax about girl things like makeup and hairdos. It isn’t that I don’t like these things. It’s only that it doesn’t seem as important to me as it once was. Maybe we spend too much time worrying about appearance and not enough worrying about the things that really matter.
When I was a child I used to stand wide-eyed watching my mother sit at the dresser putting her makeup on, and I could hardly wait until I was old enough for the mysterious chemicals of beauty that transformed ugly ducklings into swans. Occasionally, mother would let me have a bit of her lipstick on my lips just to pacify me, and I pranced around feeling very grown up.
As an adolescent, I could hardly wait to start wearing makeup. I would sneak and use mother’s liquid makeup long before I was old enough for mascara. Mother only used drug store makeup. “Use the best makeup you can afford,” mother would say. “The cheap kind from the Five and Ten will break out your face.”
It didn’t seem to make much difference, however, whether I borrowed mother’s drug store makeup or used the cheaper kind. My face still broke out. I think acne had a lot to do with hormones and not much to do with makeup.
What we call “blush” nowadays was called “rouge” back then. It came in a small red cake in a tiny round box and was rubbed on the cheeks with a tiny power puff. Mascara was even stranger. It was a cake of black stuff in a square box, which was applied with a tiny brush combed through the eyelashes. The way to apply mascara was to spit on the brush to wet it, then rub it on the black cake and apply to eyelashes.
Eyebrow pencils were wooden and trimmed with a sharpener or a knife to reveal the black pencil. Mother had thin, light eyebrows, which were always darkened with a pencil. This was an important part of the makeup application routine. I used eyebrow pencil for years until a professional make up person told me my eyebrows were dark and I didn’t need it.
Mother always did the makeup routine like a movie star going on stage and would not consider being caught in public without makeup. She could never go any place until her face was “fixed.”
I read all the glamour magazines and conspired with girlfriends about which makeup was best and the correct techniques to use to apply it. We thought we were very glamorous in those days, in spite of the acne underneath our camouflage. I became an artist at application, trying all colors and shades. My eyelids were green one day and blue the next. My lashes were thick, velvety and non-smearing. My lips were pink and dewy or later, frosted as the style of makeup changed.
It isn’t that female things don’t matter to me any more. I like to dress up and wear makeup for special occasions, but I’ve become less and less concerned about it. It seemed to fall by the wayside and other things in life took priority. First the lipstick went, then the eye shadow, and mascara. I’m down to foundation now. Somehow, I just can’t seem to get past the need for some camouflage, but probably it isn’t going to be long before I’m going totally barefaced.
Is something wrong with me? I don’t hot curl my hair any more; much less use the old fashion rollers. Remember those pink foam ones that were such an improvement over hard plastic because they were soft to sleep on?
Somehow, I’m sure that mother is some place right now with full makeup on, a bit of cologne behind her ear, and her hair perfectly curled whether she is going out or not.
I’m sorry, mom. I know I should do better. But at least you can be proud of me today. I’ve “fixed” my face.
Copyright 2002 Sheila Moss
Do you (or wife) wear makeup or prefer the barefaced natural look?