I first fell in love with cosmetics as a young girl when I came upon a set of diagrams my mother had on how to apply makeup that she had gotten from a course she took.
As I got older I began to realize that if I applied makeup to my eyes the right way they would appear larger and less downcast. My Mother would often tell me that I had Basset Hound eyes. I’m sure she thought that was an endearing way to describe me, but it never quite felt like that. She would also tell me I looked Hawaiian. It certainly gave me pause for thought since my whole family was Sicilian. Now the two comments gave me quite a visual. I could now imagine myself as a Basset Hound in a grass skirt doing the Hula.
It’s amazing how a parent describes you can so infiltrate your mind. Needless to say one of my obsessions became trying to find a way to change my “look” so that I would fit in better with my family of origin. Once you start down the path of thinking you don’t look “right”, it’s tough to get back to not worrying about it. Over the years I spent more money on eye shadow, eye liner, mascara, blush and more. I would often sit with make up artists who were doing free makeup in department stores who promised they would show me “magic” tricks to help me create the look I was seeking. The magic didn’t last long , it disappeared when I washed my face.
I was not the only one who fell into this insanity. A lot of my female friends had the same desires to achieve a look that they thought would be more pleasing and attractive. What I now find amusing is that many of the models that used to advertise the products I bought have literally disappeared from the magazines I eagerly looked through. Their faces were symmetrical. They had big eyes, high cheek bones, and pouty lips. And yes I know they had makeup artists that helped them look perfect. However, in the ensuing years a different kind of look has taken over. A lot of models now have asymmetrical features and are certainly unique looking. They are most definitely more indigenous to a global culture.
Some celebrities are embracing a “no makeup” look which ironically does need a little makeup to create. I still love makeup but I have come to grips with my “look”, because everyone else’s is taken. More importantly you never know when Vogue or Bazaar might call because they need a short, Hawaiian like woman with eyes like a Basset Hound to sit under a coconut tree advertising lipstick that tastes like pineapple.
4 Replies to “I have learned to embrace my “look”.”
Ha-ha! Amazing how familial physical descriptions can foul up your head for years after they are made! Reference a Philip Larkin poem that starts: “They fuck you up, your Mum and Dad…”
I love this! Thanks for validating the experience many of us had growing up.
Your last sentence made me laugh, Loretta. I seldom wear make-up, but not because I don’t like it, just because it’s so dang time consuming!
I remember my mother telling me she couldn’t figure out how come I had so many boyfriends in high school when I had such thick Germanic features. At 66, I’m over it now, but it bothered me for a long time. She has made many observations through the years like that (she’s 90 now) – almost like a spectator commenting out loud about what she was thinking. I hope there are many young mothers who read your blog and realize how easy it is to make or break their own child’s self esteem.
You look wonderful but more importantly you are wonderful!