I sit contemplating my dressing table…
Come on, ladies, don’t be shy. You all have one – it may be the bathroom mirror or at the kitchen table; perhaps it is your visor mirror utilized on your way to work, but we’ve all got a “dressing table,” real or figurative, by which I mean a stash of cosmetics bursting out of some dusty box, bag, drawer or cupboard somewhere.
I have a lotion and potion to cure everything from under-eye suitcases to the “fine lines associated with aging,” aka good old fashioned crows feet and frown lines. It doesn’t matter that I obtained such souvenirs by squinting against the glare of a happy sun and smiling until my jaws hurt. As we age, it all tends to migrate south and settle into unhappy lines, more’s the pity. So I proceed with my morning patch and spackle routine.
I am suddenly drawn back to my grandmother’s own “dressing table,” and realize that perhaps I am going a bit too far. Her cosmetics consisted of a very, very old pot of rouge, perhaps a relic from pre-revolutionary France, probably made out of squashed beetles preserved in wolf lard. The stuff was ancient, smelled like a museum, and I don’t recall her ever using more than a very, very light pinch on special occasions, if then. Other than that, there was a large and well-used pot of Nivea cold cream, a large pink shaker of Cashmere Bouquet, which smelled like roses from the crematorium garden, and a stick of whitener for her fingernails. And at least a zillion hairpins, of course.
My grandmother’s glory was her hair, no doubt. It fell in long waves to her backside the whole of her life and was only ever let down twice a day: Once in the morning before it was wound up into a Victorian-era bun, and once in the evening when she would plait it into a thick rope for bed. She did not own a pair of trousers, had a box full of sparkly and inexpensive brooches, and wore any of about 10 homemade dresses. She was virtually devoid of vanity, yet was one of the most beautiful women I can recall in my life.
So what, I ask, is my problem? I dutifully cover my under eye circles, paste on some foundation (what some would coyly refer to as “tinted moisturizer” – hey, who are you kidding? If it is the color of your skin, people, it is FOUNDATION!), set it with powder, apply blusher and highlighter and eye makeup and liner and mascara… I have always viewed the making my face in the morning as a favor I do to the rest of the world. This plasticated society is not yet ready to view me unmade – I have rosacea. I’m getting old. I have circles under my eyes…
But then there is the truth: I make myself up for myself and no one else. I just went through a 6 month phase of wearing nude lipstick because I felt it was more age appropriate… ok, so that is not entirely true. I saw J-Lo wear it on Xfactor and I thought it looked good. I know, I’m not proud of it, but there you are.
Well, that routine was broken this week. In a moment of sheer madness, I invested in a brightly intense fuchsia lipstick and found that when I punctuate my smile with it, the whole world seems to treat me better. Men are happy to let me edge out into traffic. The otherwise grumpy checker at Asda (Wal-Mart) smiles and inquires amiably about “how long I’ve been in this country.” My husband decides to take me out to dinner. On a Thursday.
Ok. So I’m a vain bird. My grandmother would be horrified. Beauty should and does, truly, come from within, but I intend to go down with a fight. I am not my grandmother. I am happily on the road to becoming that eccentric old lady with a shockingly youthful haircut, bright lipstick worn both on lips and teeth, and thick eyeliner in the approximate vicinity of my eyes. I will be a caricature of my former self. A HAPPY caricature, that is…
Have a fab day, my friends –
Kicking and screaming and aging gracelessly,
Your Mother Hen
feature photo: Shutterstock
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