Monday, March 7, 2011

Makeup Intervention

I will never forget my first trip to the makeup counter at the mall because it began as a completely humiliating experience for me.

I was in the seventh grade and had just moved from New York to Florida. What a great age to pack up and move - awesome! I was going through a hard time, adjusting to a new school, having no friends and in general just struggling with being a chubby, thirteen year old girl.

My family is big and Italian. Our Sunday afternoons centered around going to grandma's house and eating THE MEAL, and sitting around with friends and relatives. You know that scene in ‘Goodfellas' where Lorraine Bracco is describing her day of beauty with the other women and says something like "everybody talks but nobody listens to each other"? That is exactly what it was like on Sundays.

My cousin Melissa and I would run up to the attic and put on my grandma's old dresses and come down singing "Tomorrow" from Annie or "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at the top of our lungs and no one would bat an eyelash. My Papa would sneak me to the stove where there was a huge pot of macaroni and gravy bubbling and give me meatballs on a slice of crusty Italian bread. Heaven. "Give the baby a meatball!" my grandma would command, and he gladly did. Well, many meatballs later I wasn't looking so hot. I was a chubby kid, and everyone talked about it, but the family all still shoved food at me from every direction. Food was love, and boy, I was well loved.

In addition to my weight gain, I had just started experimenting with makeup with my best friend Susie before we left New York. We were super into Wet 'n Wild nail polish, and would draw little polka dots on our nails, sculpt half-white half-black nails, and painting them bright blue was huge too. We adored our Stiff Stuff hairspray and our black as night eyeliner. Susie was way cooler than me, and she was also way smaller than me, but I tried to emulate her as best I could makeup-wise and clothing-wise. We would dress alike and enter lip sync contests, but where she would be cute and tiny and blond in her little tube top and mini skirt, I would resemble a stuffed sausage in the same outfit.

On our way to a lip sync contest at Faces Teen Nightclub,
we took second place.

We were not exactly learned in the application of eyeliner, but we were really good at doing each others nails. My parents didn't mind the nails so much but they could not stand the black eye liner. I would hear my dad yell to my mom, "She looks like a raccoon!  You need to do something about her face!”. My mom was all peaches and cream, with shiny blond Dorothy Hamill style hair, and gorgeous skin. I couldn't possibly replicate her look. The only eye liner color I knew was black (did others even exist?),  and the only lipstick color I knew was red red red or pink pink  pink and nothing in between.

My poor mother, where could she take me to help 'fix' this horrible problem that was my face? She would try to guide me through the 'less is more' approach but I wanted nothing to do with it. I was angry and could express myself through my heavily made-up eyes (which you couldn’t even really see because there was so much crap on them). Finally, she tricked me by asking me to go to the mall. Of course I would go to the mall, I was a girl and I was thirteen! When we got there, we went into a department store called Burdine's which I don't think exists anymore. Mom steered me towards the Clinique counter and asked for Linda, and I soon discovered there was a covert operation going on. We had an appointment for the love of God.

This was my makeup intervention.

I can totally understand why people who are faced with an intervention of any type want to turn and run and say “Are you frickin' kidding me” because that is what I tried to do. I just couldn't fathom that wearing less makeup would be remotely okay for me. But Linda was very sweet--she gently wiped off the smudgy darkness on my face and began showing me how I could use makeup to emphasize my features, rather than piling it all on like spackle. I was reluctant at first, and thought yeah right, as soon as we're outta here I am going back to my old ways. But after a few minutes I was kind of digging what she was doing...some nice plum tones on the eyes, a soft pink blush on my cheeks, and 'raspberry glace' lipstick on my lips--a lovely pink shade that God's honor, I still buy to this day (thank you Linda).

I liked going home with my bag of treats, laying it all out on my bed, and admiring it (I still do that to this day when I come home with new loot). And I left feeling, well, pretty. And pretty optimistic, which is just what I needed at that time in my life.

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