Returning guest blogger Sunny Frazier, whose first novel in the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries, Fools Rush In, received the Best Novel Award from Public Safety Writers Association, is here today with her thoughts on the comfort of putting on one’s face.
The third Christy Bristol Astrology Mystery, A Snitch in Time, is in bookstores now.
Last month I wrote about giving up multi-tasking. Today, I’m sitting outside getting some sun, topping off the pool (despite the threat of rising water rates), drinking oolong tea and writing today’s column. So much for good intentions.
The topic for today is cosmetics. I’m a fan. I must be as I have quite a collection. I even cleaned out my medicine cabinet so I could fill the shelves with lipsticks, foundations, eye shadows, face creams and fingernail polish. Sometimes I just open it up to gloat over my treasures. Walgreen’s and Revlon are making a fortune off of me.
But, there have to be limits. The other day I was standing in line at Subway to order a meatball sandwich on Italian bread when I happened to glance at two customers down the line. I bent toward the short woman my age standing next to me and soto-voiced said, “What’s with all these fake eyelashes?”
We both covertly looked at the young women. Their racks of lashes reached out, obscenely thick, obviously fake, distractingly ugly. My new friend and I smirked at each other and rolled our eyes in tandem.
I’m not sure when this trend took hold and spread so widely. Is it the Kardashian effect, the result of HD TV or just this season’s focus? Some years it’s the smoky eye, some years neon lipstick. Right now beauty is defined by lashes that crawl on the face like spiders. Spider lashes.
You have to be young to get away with trends. A young face is a blank canvas. It hasn’t achieved character lines yet so young women experiment with manufactured color. When I was 18, “Toast” was my favorite shade of lipstick. It gave a shimmery, if anemic, look. I remember doing white eyeliner when it came over from London. I even used a brow pencil to dot fake freckles on the bridge of my nose to look cute. I never could do mascara; my lashes are long and the stuff just smudged my glasses.
My mother loved makeup and refused to be seen without it. She put on her face first thing in the morning and wore it all day, even if she never left the house. She had porcelain skin but smoking took its toll. It was her firm belief that her pancake makeup should be 3 shades darker than normal and chided me for choosing “ivory,” which is my natural tone. She also loved blue eyeshadow even after it went out of fashion. Red lipstick, always bright red.
One thing from her era I’ve never understood is drawn-on eyebrows. I’ve never even plucked mine since they are always hidden under a fringe of bangs. I think they are reasonably pretty, as far as facial hair goes. I find myself checking out the brows of other women, fascinated with the pains they go to making weird crayon lines over their eyes. At first I thought just women of the previous generation were victim to this unfortunate trend, but I’m seeing more young women following suit. It looks silly.
Makeup has been around as long as civilization. Cleopatra was no slouch in that department. Marie Antoinette took it to new heights with fake beauty marks and hair up to here. Elizabeth I slathered on white lead makeup, which ate away skin. It hurts to be beautiful.
No matter what the promises from the manufacturers, no makeup is going to erase the fine lines, the demarcation of a life well-lived and a face well-lived in. I still use makeup but strive to make it look like I don’t. I go for a “natural” look. The foundation barely covers but has an spf 15, lipstick is a light rose called Sugar Plum, blush is a pink cream and the lightest violet on the eyelids. I want people to see me, or a better version of me–not a mask.