Maybe it is because I have been spending so much time on blogs which discuss Mary Kay Cosmetics that I have become enamored with the idea of make up. I used to revel in the fact that I did not wear a stitch of makeup but apparently we are a product of the company we keep and I find I have become discontent in this area of my grooming.
A friend and I once discussed the wearing of make up. In true Mrs M fashion I disclosed that I had “read somewhere” that women do not wear makeup to attract men. They wear makeup for other women. The idea being that men don’t actually notice for the most part but women around us, do. We are always looking at one another, we are always comparing ourselves to one another.
This friend looked at me and said, “that’s easy for you to say, you are already MARRIED!” I was taken aback at the irony of that statement. In light of what I had just said she proved the very hypothesis. I was at once delighted and offended. Odd sensation.
I survived a very long time without wearing makeup. Let me be clear, however, in high school I did wear heavy black eyeliner and black lipstick whenever I could get away with it in the all girls Catholic High School I attended. I also sported blue highlights. For me, makeup was not a way to enhance my looks but rather to draw attention and maybe scare some nuns.
Once an adult, though, I shunned makeup. For one thing it is expensive. I would purchase poor color choices (another reason punk rock was a good fit for me…) the makeup would sit in a drawer for months until it congealed into another lifeform. I would put it on and never remove it properly paying the price later in the form of post adolescent acne which led me to another “product” to purchase to overcome my penance for bad makeup etiquette.
It is easy to avoid wearing makeup in one’s 20’s and even into one’s 30’s when one is given compliments on her “beautiful skin” every so often. Compliments on my skin were vaccination shots against the desire to wear cosmetics. In my mind, wearing cosmetics and being basically too lazy to do the follow up removal of said cosmetics thus leading to blemishes only worked against my “beautiful skin.”
I don’t know how it changed really. I suppose it began innocently enough. Chatting online with some MK refugees…talking about new and exciting products at Sephora.com and about the free gifts that come with each order. Ah, yes, that is a clue. Something for nothing. Well, more truthfully, something for an order of $50 or more. It was Christmas, I was giddy.
The makeup WAS nice. It WAS fun. I FELT girlie.
But if I was making this transistion into wearing makeup I was really going to NEED a skin care “system” as well. After all, I am ‘GETTING OLDER’ and skin tends to lose elasticity as one ages. I was not getting vain, I was taking care of the temple. This is the only skin I’m going to get, I had better take care of it, yes?
So, I went back to Sephora and picked out some moderately priced products. The one that drew me in, “hope in a jar.” I need hope, jars are good, I purchased the products and awaited their arrival.
The next day, ramped up by my newly adopted skin care regime I washed, patted, cleaned, soothed, moisturized and I noticed something. Looking in the mirror I saw for the first time, perhaps, the bags under my eyes. “Well, that’s no good” I judged. I immediately went back to the internet and found myself a good eye cream. I waited for what seemed an inordinately long time for that cream. When it came I applied it that moment. I felt better. The palpitations in my heart ceased and I was able to move on for a day or so.
Each day I followed the system and I felt really good about it, truthfully, like one does when beginning a new healthy diet or an daily prayer devotional and then it happened. I began to notice the wrinkles, the blemishes that had long hidden and the “laugh lines” around my mouth and on my forehead. “Where did THOSE come from?” I wondered.
At first I considered that it might BE the skin care system which had unleashed long dormant signs of aging upon my normally chaste canvas but then I was seized by a more sane explanation. I am looking in the mirror more often and for longer periods of times. It makes sense that I would begin to see myself a little more deeply.
On some level I find this to be a good practice, looking deeply, looking more often but when I found the “age spot” I went over the edge just a tad. I called my mother.
“I have an age spot” wailed I.
“That’s a freckle” countered she.
“Same thing” I reply and to this no answer came.
My first thought was to run out and purchase something to fight the spot.
Out! Damn Spot!
I was preoccupied. I was obsessed. How long had it been there? What will make it go away?
I stared at it in the mirror and then, I backed up and looked a little less closely. I saw the big picture, the whole face. In that moment I saw a 40 year old version of my grandmother’s face and I nearly wept, but not from fear or dismay, but from love. A smile placed itself on my face and I pulled in for a closer look. I looked only at the eyes…my grandmother’s eyes. I am named for her.
I took that moment to reflect upon the memory of this woman who learned to drive and got her license for the first time in her 80’s, this woman who bore and raised 12 children in a three bedroom ranch style home in Dayton, Ohio, this woman who grew and canned her own vegetables and had fresh honey on the table from the neighbor’s hive each time we came to visit.
And everything that came to me in that moment was good and pure and sweet like the honey on my grandmother’s table and I wept because I missed her so.
I stroke the spot and the laugh lines, a sweet caress and remembrance of things past and hope in a jar for things to come. I do not come to fight age today but to embrace it.