Friday, May 10, 2013


A lesson in perspective:

       When I was young, I was pretty sure that there was no problem so big that a pot of creamy blue eyeshadow could not solve it. Lucky for me, we had an Avon lady who supplied me with monthly samples of lipstick, shadow and rouge and never questioned what I did with them all, or why I kept needing more...probably because the explanation was smeared from my chin to my eyebrows, and beyond, every time we met.
Of course, this particular Avon lady was a kindred spirit, in that she wore most of her products all at the same time. So rather than search through the catalogue trying to find what you wanted to order, one could simply point to a spot on her face and request “some of that”. I guess you could say moderation was a stranger to her, and that’s likely why her memory still lives in my head, like a lipstick stain to my brain.

Now because of these abundant samples, I figured there wasn’t a 4th grade girl in the world who didn’t look better with midnight blue eyelids and dark suntan pantyhose peaking out from underneath her shorts. Thus, this was my go-to ensemble for every event—ward parties, babysitting, a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood. And it wasn’t until my older sister called me out during Family Home Evening, that I imagined there might be something age inappropriate in my choices.

Seems Nicki found it “humiliating” that her little sister was seen walking the streets, looking like she was, well, walking the streets. So against my will I toned things down, going to a lighter shade of sky blue, because everybody knows that if you want blue eyes, you wear blue eyeshadow. Duh.  

A year or so later, the Max Factor warehouse sales came to town, and we were introduced to earth tones. About that time, Nicki tried to give me a makeover, telling me she was sure my eyes would look more blue if my shadow was coppery brown. I sat there snarling, like a feral cat waiting to scratch it’s way out of captivity, while she worked her magic. When she was finished, I darted into the bathroom to see the results, then graciously responded with:


I don’t know why she let me live.

Of course I did, in fact, wear brown eyeshadow again because it turns out she was right—coppery brown made my eyes look blue. Even the color wheel was on her side. But that was a great lesson in perception.

Recently, there’s been a commercial by Dove going around on social media. Sight unseen, a sketch artist has women describe themselves, then an acquaintance describe them, and he draws both accounts. Interestingly, the way they see themselves is far from reality—much less attractive than they truly are—but the way another person sees them is very close to the truth. The women stand there looking at the different renditions, and there is a moment of illumination.  

I’m afraid that, had it been me in that commercial, they’d have been forced to edit out my first reaction, which would have been something like, “WHAT THE?! DID YOU SKETCH ME FROM UNDERNEATH? I HAVE LIKE, 20 EXTRA POUNDS OF CHIN IN THIS PICTURE!”

And that would have undone all the good they were trying to do.

A while back a friend of ours shot some fun pictures of our family at the sand dunes, then tagged the entire clan on Facebook, including the chubby, unaware matriarch. With lightening quick reflexes, I untagged my fat face from each one of those misguided pictures, before the cameraman even logged off of his computer. And it wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate the thought, bless his heart. It’s just that I didn’t appreciate the proof. 

Once again, a lesson in perception. Everyone else in my family was beautiful to me, and I’d have proudly displayed them on my mantle. But my own flaws were the elephant in the sand, and I couldn’t see it any other way.

And I’m sure that the older and fatter I get, the more I will wish I had covered my house in wallpaper made out of those images of me at the dunes, because they will eventually be my glory days, as my viewpoint changes day by day, year to year and experience after experience.  

But until then, my finger hovers over the mouse, ready and waiting to untag the unflattering...and photoshopping my eyes until they’re as blue as the sea. ;)



Kay said...

This is so apt, especially "it wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate the thought, bless his heart. It’s just that I didn’t appreciate the proof" comment, very clever which is what we always expect from you, and you are correct. With age you will wonder why you fussed...until your eyesight goes and then so what?

Mimi Sue said...

Oh my gosh! You write the truth once again! I've hated to have my picture taken my whole life. Thus not very many pictures. This me might just be the best I'll ever be. In this life anyway. Hope you had a great Mother's Day. Mimi

Sarah said...

I have one chin but a belly that perpetually looks 5 months pregnant. And it's not all in my head! I get asked the dreaded question at least once a year. I am sure those Dove strangers would have sketched it if they were doing full body portraits.

Garden of Egan said...

You just kill me!
You are just that gorgeous that I even daren't approach you at Maddox when I saw you there.
You didn't have a trillion chins and your eyeshadow was perfection!

Silly woman.

I really wish you could have posted a picture of that Avon lady though. She sounds totally awesome.
I'd love to see what the Dove guy would draw her like.

Stef said...

Nylons under your shorts. That is hilarious. I didn't do that...ever.