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Posts Tagged ‘Beauty’

It was one of those rare opportunities lately for me. We were meeting Bob’s cousin from NY and his girlfriend for dinner at a trendy restaurant downtown. I had to run upstairs and get “beautiful.” It was an excuse to put on makeup!

I remembered the Flapper saying she had to, “put on her face.” Nelly, my foster mother, would only occasionally get dolled up since I am convinced she had agoraphobia. Still, on those rare occasions when she did venture out, she appeared like a Geisha – white face powder and red lips.

My routine now is pretty similar to Nell’s; some tinted moisturizer with an occasional dusting of mineral powder, a lip balm, with the addition of eyebrows; as in, she had them and I don’t. Well I do, but they are blonde. Still, just the basics. With Great Grandma Ada it’s all about the lipstick. She likes a bold lip.

Attending a Catholic school meant I had to learn the beauty basics fast in high school. In the 60s, I would take my “pin money” to White’s Pharmacy or Newberry’s and buy the latest white lipstick and blue eyeshadow!

I’d been told that it was always important to have “pin money.” What a quaint, ancient expression that referred obliquely to a woman having some financial independence. The term originated at the turn of the 20th century when women were fighting for the vote, and God forbid we might lose our hats in the process; hence Gibson girls were told to keep some change on their person for hat pins!

During the Flapper’s roaring 20s, it meant money for a cab in case your date was getting too fresh…

I didn’t grow up with huge beauty emporiums like Sephora, or tutorials on shading your face to create angles on YouTube. Side note – I just watched my first “influencer” teach me how to make “beachy waves” with a curling iron… it took her almost an hour and included many products! I’d just rather go to the beach though. Cheaper and simpler.

Of course, we didn’t have to be Insta-ready for a picture to spread like wildfire on social media, for all our friends to judge us.

We didn’t know how fresh and pure our skin was, so we spread on the orange gel, Bain de Soleil, and baked into bronze goddesses under the sun. We didn’t focus on the “size” of our pores or look ahead to future basal and squamous cells.

We didn’t even know that makeup was tested on animals. We thought that the bunny died only if one of us became pregnant. That was the test, there was no peeing on test strips in the privacy of your own bathroom. That dead bunny was the watershed moment for many of us.

Because I was a redhead, my skin was deemed super sensitive, everybody knows this. Nurses told me when I first tried nursing my baby. Doctors told me after stitching up the C-section wound. When I was diagnosed with psoriasis, I was reminded yet again…

But it wasn’t until I saw the youngest Kardashian (Kylie Jenner) on the cover of Forbes that it hit me. The beauty business is BIG business. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesdigitalcovers/2018/07/11/how-20-year-old-kylie-jenner-built-a-900-million-fortune-in-less-than-3-years/#4a7b63dcaa62

You need more than pin money to keep up these days. Imagine that as a teen Jenner was developing these “lip kits” to plump up lips. I never worried about my big upper lip, it was just a part of me and if I wanted to change anything it was to gain some curves and not look stick-straight, “like a boy.”

When the Bride was teased about her gorgeous rosebud lips in middle school, I cringed.

We didn’t know how trendy such lips would become – that a big upper lip is now considered an Elvis asset. That women inject their lips with fillers for this effect is fascinating to me. I want to tell the Love Bug to love herself just the way she is, not to compare herself to others. She will have to deal with being a tall girl in a world where women are told to keep quiet still, and stay in the background.

And when they do speak up, like Dr Ford, they are vilified.

If there was ever a generation to lead a beauty revolution now is the time. Let’s clear out our makeup drawers ladies and accept our grey hair and wrinkles. Let’s stop searching for that magic potion of youth and put our pin money where our head is – in the stuff that will soothe our souls. In books, music and art.

Beach hair and wrinkles #nomakeup, this is what 70 looks like.

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What a week. I’ve got two broken ribs, nearly fifty immigrants infants can’t find their parents, and Mr T meets with the Queen while his baby image in a diaper floats above London like it’s the Macy’s Parade!

But first, let’s discuss Kylie Jenner on the cover of Forbes magazine. She is sneaking up on becoming one of the youngest American Billionaires since Mark Zuckerberg. Everyone, including Dictionary.com, is taking issue with the magazine’s assertion that Kylie is a “self-made” entrepreneur. So I thought, let’s dig into this one!

Horatio Alger Jr is the fictional writer we often equate with the myth of a “self-made-man.” We can thank Harvard for this, because even though his lineage dates back to the Pilgrims, when Alger was studying at Harvard he was denied entrance into the Hasty Pudding Club due to his “…genteel poverty and less-than-aristocratic heritage.” So what did this son of a Unitarian minister do in the mid 1800s?

He wrote about young boys who pulled themselves up out of poverty through hard work and or some act of courage or honesty – thereby making the big leap, almost unheard of in Europe, of becoming solidly middle-class. Strangely enough, he was living in New York and always interested in the plight of “street boys,” immigrants fresh off the boat from Ireland or Italy and orphans who had been left roaming the Lower East Side after the Civil War. He even adopted three boys.

To be honest, we’ve all relied on the kindness of strangers or a loan from a great aunt at some point in our lives. It really does take a village to raise a child, and in the case of Kylie, it took a whole social media, world-wide circus! Still, I’d come to her defense because she didn’t just invent an App, or create an avatar of herself for some video game. She took a risk, and instead of bemoaning her accusers for using fillers on her lips, she turned that into her business model.

She made lemonade out of lemons.

Sure she came from an already famous and wealthy family, poor thing, but she figured out a way to actually create something – granted it’s not a cure for cancer but you too can have pouty rosebud lips!

I mean look at another child of privilege, Mr T. He was handed the keys to his kingdom by his father, and he turned NYC into his personal playground. Unfortunately today, he’s cozying up to dictators, and trampling on our allies while padding the SCOTUS with ultra-conservative white men; all the while concurrently dismantling our government and destroying our reputation throughout the world.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if such an entrepreneur should turn out to have squandered his family fortune and be in debt to Russia? Our serial-liar-in-chief is one smooth operator. Like Alger, who was fired from his first job as a minister for molesting young boys, I sense something dark and foreboding lurking in president-bone-spurs past.

I’d love to see Mr T baby balloons take-off over here, maybe a Halloween costume? By October those immigrant babies will have been deported back to their parents I hope…and it shouldn’t hurt when I laugh, or sneeze right? We all need a little push while growing up!

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Sorry to be quoting a Russian, but we spent a recent evening at an art show to benefit the Love Bug’s school. And because we had a mini-tour the day before with Nancy and Great Grandma Ada, who has converted her family room into an art studio, we had a long conversation with one of the Lost Boys from South Sudan. James Makuac paints memories from his dreams of Africa. They are bright, vivid colors, and some are not for the faint of heart. http://jameskuolmakuac.tumblr.com

His work is about resilience, about people fleeing their homes in the midst of war, walking through rain with the ubiquitous yellow water barrel on a woman’s head.

And I thought of all the artwork my Sister-in-Law Anita collected over the years. She left my brother Dr Jim surrounded with bright California images and fragile pieces of art glass. He loved her with all his heart, their last years together spent tenderly caring for each other, collecting Amish quilts on sunny rides through the country. And as we tried to organize, to make sense of her collections, it dawned on me that she too was trying to recapture her home. To bring the Northern California aesthetic into her Twin City life.

And I wondered yet again, what will my children do with the things I leave behind? Will they find them beautiful, or will they be a burden?

One night, in the midst of my visit to Dr Jim’s MN home, we watched the Minimalism documentary on Netflix. It opens with the abundance of cheap stuff people fight over the day after Thanksgiving. And the take-away is that we should:

“Use things, and Love people!”

The Bride had wanted me to see the film, because she thought Bob and I are heading in that minimalist direction, divesting of “stuff” and living a simpler life in our two bedroom town home. And it is somehow freeing, to put out on a table or up on a wall only those things I love, that bring me joy.

For instance, I have an Irish ceramic vase that had lived its life on display in my VA guest bedroom, one of four bedrooms. It is now happily holding utensils on my small kitchen counter. I couldn’t part with it because it had been a gift from my Irish cousins, but I also loved its line. To me, it is beautiful.

Fyodor Dostoevsky said, “The world will be saved by beauty.” He also said

By interpreting freedom as the propagation and immediate gratification of needs, people distort their own nature, for they engender in themselves a multitude of pointless and foolish desires, habits, and incongruous stratagems. Their lives are motivated only by mutual envy, sensuality, and ostentation.

Maybe our country needs to adopt a new interpretation of freedom, because the American dream, like all dreams, is changing. We need to stop loving cheap shiny objects that appear at Walmart and on our Twitter feed, and make a point of listening to the people we love. Finding the truth in another’s story. Understanding why we are in Niger. Stop fighting proxy wars, and search for beauty in the world, and not on Google.

Painting by James Makuac

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“What should I write this morning?” I asked Bob. He mumbled something over coffee that sounded like, “I dunno thatsatourriff.” This is what happens when you talk with your mouth full, cause I’m pretty sure he actually said, “I don’t know that’s your gift.” Or gig, or whatever. So I said,

“I know, facelifts!”

Well, actually I don’t know much about facelifts except, that every celebrity of a certain age is starting to look the same. And when you go too far under the knife, or too often, you could start to look like a lion. Beware, that image you see in the mirror may no longer be you!

But I DO recognize that schoolyard bully who might tell a young girl her lips are too big, or her hair is dirty, or (pick a body part and insert a slur). Mr T has got a huuuge problem with smart women, like Mika Brzezinski, and fast, tiny fingers that tap out his stream of putrid consciousness almost every morning. This is horrifying to the civilized world but somehow continues to delight his followers. Leaders don’t do this, they don’t intimidate, harass and belittle others into compliance. They certainly don’t talk about women bleeding…

When I opened Twitter this morning, one of my favorite authors, Joyce Carol Oates, popped up with this:

“Face-lift? Who needs a face-lift? All of US badly in need of soul-lift.” 

Here are a few things we can do for our souls, instead of trying to dissect the Presidential Twitter feed – which is simply vindictive nonsense.

  1.  Do something good for our planet. Plant a tree, pick up garbage on your street, bring tote bags to the grocery store if you’re not already. Donate to an environmental agency like The Sierra Club, or pick a non-profit: http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2006/03/guide-environmental-non-profits/  We only have THREE years to get right with the world, so what are you waiting for? http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/06/29/we-have-3-years-to-act-on-climate-change-before-its-too-late-s_a_23007680/
  2. Become someone your grandchildren will admire. Pick a cause (and not cyber-bullying, FLOTUS has that covered y’all) and throw your body and soul into it. Is gun violence driving you mad? Guns kill nearly 1,300 children each year in our country. Join “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America” and help them #disarmhate https://momsdemandaction.org. If you think women’s rights are human rights, see what your local Planned Parenthood is up to, that is if they are still open?
  3. Go Deep. Turn off all those devices and listen to the world. First of all, your inner peace is depending on you. Meditate, even if it’s just for ten minutes while you’re watering the garden. Did you know walking the dog could be a meditation? You don’t have to sit in a lotus position and chant things. Great Grandma Ada said she would have to get up and dust if she ever tried meditating. But once we make peace with ourselves, we have a ripple effect on the rest of our lives. Acceptance is a form of grace, and it doesn’t just happen on Sunday morning.

Wasn’t it Lady Gaga or the Dalai Lama who wrote about self-acceptance? Everybody has a body part they don’t like, and we women are notorious for being critical. Her nose is too long, her hands betray her age, if only I could just lose that last ten pounds…The Flapper didn’t like her freckled, ski jump nose. She told me she would rub lemon juice on her nose to try and bleach out the freckles. For me, I was a tomboy just as flat-chested as the Flapper, and there were some boys who liked to remind me of this fact.

Lucky for me, I never succumbed to the ridicule by placing sacks of saline in my chest.

Stay Woke people. Get out there and enjoy this glorious weather and remember you don’t need to eat and breathe politics. When I was young, we had one half hour at night to watch Walter Cronkite and complain about the news…as a family, around one TV set. Daddy Jim read the newspaper, you remember those, in peace and quiet. It wasn’t all consuming all the time. Mr T’s Tweets are bad for our collective health. Here’s the latest Dalai Lama’s Tweet:

“We experience happiness on a sensory level that is relatively short-lived. But lasting happiness is related to our state of mind.” 

Enjoying a frozen hot chocolate with cupcake bear can also be soul-lifting.

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A six picture memoir for SBH. Did you notice the matching polka dot bikinis? We noticed the Love Bug pursing her lips. The opposite of her reverse Elvis pout. And sure enough, she said, “Mama.”

 

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Lots of firsts on this trip: a dip into the aquamarine Caribbean Sea; a sail to a secluded island; a bath in the open-air kitchen sink; organic French baby food, “Legumes et cereal.”
We are ready for her first Spring!

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Bob and I were in Starbucks the other day, and as I waited for my pumpkin spice latte I picked up the Washington Post, Style section. Imagine my surprise to find its front page article was featuring my favorite co-host of “What Not to Wear” Stacy London. http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/stacy-london-fashion-guru-discusses-insecurity-in-new-book/2012/10/03/5aeaeb6e-0be4-11e2-a310-2363842b7057_story.html

Photo Joseph, TWPost

One of my first articles for the Berkshire Eagle back in the ’80s was about fashion. Believe me, I’m no expert on fashion. But the editor liked it so much, she actually posed some models to illustrate my tongue-in-cheek points. There was the “Native,” who usually wore jeans and flannel. There was the “Big City Tourist,” the visitor from NY or Boston to ski or take in Tanglewood in the summer. These women usually wore black, and had their nails done. And then there was this sub-species of “Transplants,” like me. We needed help. We were trying to fit in, we bought homes and cross country skis and dressed in strange outfits. We needed our own style, and I proposed a fashion hot line.

Today, we have Apps and bloggers and reality TV. We can watch Stacy on TLC’s popular fashion show where she ambushes poor, unsuspecting fashion-challenged women and in one hour transforms them body and soul. Really. Well, it actually takes a week in NYC but the final show is a magical hour and how she does it without psychotherapy is beyond me. Needless to say, I adore her and tune in whenever I am home alone for lunch. It is my guilty pleasure and we’ve become lunch buddies. But we have one other thing in common – we both have Psoriasis. http://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasisStewart+Brown wearing

Stacy delves into her childhood diagnosis in her new book, “The Truth About Style” and she has also started a website “Style for Hire.” http://www.styleforhire.com She was extremely insecure as a kid, never knowing when her skin could break out in debilitating, red scaly patches. Then, when she started woking at Vogue, an eating disorder kicked in, leaving her ripe for reinvention. Three years ago, my dermatologist told me that normally 30 year olds experience Guttate Psoriasis. Guttate means small rain drops of eruptions, instead of full scale patches…so I was unusual…my arms and legs looked like pepperoni pizzas. I felt pretty unusual. I was told however, that small doses of sunshine would help this auto-immune disease and I declined taking any strong, cancer fighting drugs. These steroids had been approved for skin treatments, but I’m just not a pill person.

So unlike Stacy, I had always felt pretty comfortable in my own skin. Getting all pimply in my late-middle-old age was just God having a good laugh at my expense. “OK now, let’s see what you can do with spots!” A famous Stacy quote is: “Style is the quickest shorthand to who you are.” I guess I’m now a sun-loving, nana? And I’d say I’m an Eileen Fisher, organic Stewart+Brown wearing, yoga pants comfortable type? Stacy was speaking this weekend at a synagogue in DC, and I almost drove up there to see her. After all, she saved me from wearing pedal pushers (aka capri pants) since they shorten the leg, and who needs shorter legs right? Because if change can really occur from the outside-in, a What Not to Wear mantra, I’m ready to tackle this transplanted nana, Southern-style.

And no, I didn’t save everything I ever wrote. But I’m glad I saved this one:

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…to be Outside! Britain’s National Trust has come up with a bucket list for kids, 50 things to do before your child turns 12! It’s a pretty extraordinary list and is meant to get everyone moving and exploring nature, outside. I have to admit I did most of them, though I’m not sure what playing “conkers” is? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/9201607/National-Trust-50-things-to-do-before-you-are-12.html Here are the top 5:

1. Climb a tree
2. Roll down a really big hill
3. Camp out in the wild
4. Build a den
5. Skim a stone

I remember the Bride’s first little friend after we moved back to the burbs of NJ. They were in 2nd or 3rd grade and had a mini-science project to do, so I suggested they gather up some sand from our sand box to start. The little girl was terrified of putting her hands in the sand box. It was the first time I thought to myself, “What have I done?” I loved living in the mountains of MA, cross country skiing, taking my children on hikes and swimming in our pond, but I longed to be closer to our family. Well to be honest, there was a young friend in MA who once asked me very straight-faced why I wanted to take them for a walk. She just did not see the need for walking without a purpose, and she was only 5 years old!

Today is the third annual, “Take Our Children to the Park…And Leave Them There Day!” Yes indeed, that Free Range mom is at it again, proposing to parents a little break in their day to teach their children some much needed social skills and a little independence http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/third-annual-take-our-children-to-the-park-and-leave-them-there-day-coming-up-sat-may-19/ It’s really not a radical idea, in fact it’s empowering. Of course, I would add this depends on where you live and the age of the child, but raising a bubble-wrapped kid is definitely bad for their mental and physical health, in my opinion.

So tie up your sneakers, fire up your grill, climb a tree! Go out into the great outdoors. I’ve just about finished planting my kitchen herbs in pots by the door. Or hey, maybe the Rocker could set up his band on a runway? “What you don’t have you don’t need it now…it’s a beautiful day!

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