Anyone who’s known me would have never guess that I would (of all things) become a beauty blogger–even just for fun.
A year ago, I only owned a handful of beauty and makeup items. Beyond the Clinique 3-Step skincare that I had been using nearly 10 years since college, most of my beauty and makeup were gifted items and guilt purchases. (Guilt purchases are those items you buy when you went in to buy a moisturizer, but the makeup counter clerk is both so clever and nice that you feel badly for walking away with just that). Sadly, all I could say that I owned was an expired MAC mascara, a couple of MAC lipglasses that I never used because they seemed too bold for the life I was leading, and random gift with purchase pieces that I got when I bought skincare and perfume. Ironically, however, I come from a family of beautyholics.
Though no one is by any means famous, my mother and two younger sisters each have their own special calling to beauty. In my 36 years of life, I never seen my mother when she wasn’t dressed to the nines. And I have only seen her without makeup twice in my entire life. Likewise, my youngest sister Cheris can look at a hair style once or twice and replicate it. Then, my slightly younger sister, Shaunna is the ultimate fashionista. Shaunna knows every urban fashion trend and knows not only how to work them, but is also gifted with the art of the deal to buy them. (I swear her closet rivals Mariah Carey’s.) And despite all their beatific gifts, I never learned one thing about beauty from any of them except that I didn’t want to be a 3-hour bathroom/get-ready kind of woman.
With a family like this, could anyone blame me for thinking that the stork dropped me off at the wrong doorstep? Clearly the “beautyholic” gene had skipped me and it’s a wonder I survived my teen years missing such a vital familial genome.
When I was 16 and my sisters and ghetto play cousins (foster sisters) wanted to mall hop and boy hunt at the rollerskating rink there was always someone who picked out my clothes, did my hair, nails, and made sure I was “acceptable” before I was dragged along with them. Even now, I wish I could say that they did these small feats because I was spoiled instead of just somewhat awkward.
At 17 , when it was time to go to prom, I went to the makeup counter clueless because the only thing I owned was a hot pink (wrong shade) Wet ‘N Wild lipstick that had been a makeup hand me down. Though I remember little beyond my cluelessness, I somehow knew that I had to have makeup for prom. On a mission, I bravely went alone to the JcPenny makeup counter and said I needed makeup for prom. (It never occurred to me to ask anyone to go along to help.) A nice lady at the counter patiently walked around and pointed lots of mirror boxes and circles of makeup until ultimately–I said, “You choose.”
I walked away with a small bag containing an Iman foundation and powder–all that my part-time McDonald’s’ job could afford. Unfortunately, even as I rode the bus home from the mall, I was completely confused about how I was supposed to put the makeup on. Again, I was the kind of girl who asked few questions and not much of people.
However, prom was not the disaster you would think. I was lucky. My foster Aunt, Ruby, took pity on me and did my makeup. I remember her picking me up in her huge van and me handing over my small makeup purchases like a sacrificial offering. And there I sat gullibly and unquestioning on a tall wooden kitchen counter stool in my prom dress and heels while she ascribed my fate. (Oh to have that kind of trust in someone again).
For what seemed like forever, I quietly stared down at my acrylic nails (done in a million colors-none of which really went with my dress) as she pursed her lips and gently pressed and prodded my face. When Ruby said, “Look up” I looked up. And when she said “Look down,” again went my eyes and face. On and on this cycle would went until Ruby was satisfied and handed me a small handheld mirror. “Look!” she said. And I could say nothing.
Beyond a meek and squeaked out thank you that was it. I was not the talking kind (nothing like the woman I am now). That night Ruby wasn’t a miracle worker, but I remember feeling grateful that she had taken the time to help me. There was nothing amazing about the makeup. I wasn’t over-powdered and primped within an inch of my life. In reality, I went to prom with nothing more than a touch of mascara, a hint of pressed powder, and a bit of Vaseline on my lips. Yet, somehow, Ruby had given me something priceless. In that moment she had given me a glimpse of someone I have yet to own and know–beauty.
In retrospect, I think my prom night was the prettiest I have ever been in my life. Only, I didn’t know that until now. (Below is my prom portrait from 1995).
This is me now.
Do you remember when makeup first transformed your life?