Occasionally I am asked to defend what I write about (“beauty”) by people who think it’s an exercise in making women feel shitty about themselves because there’s no possible way they can attain the perfect skin/makeup/hair/pore size/fingernail shape/elbow scent society dictates as The Ideal.
I am also asked to defend my choice of lunch (avocado, peanut butter and alfalfa sprouts on toast – magnificent!) but I sense that’s less relevant.
My usual response to these people is to peer at their face judgmentally, and then ask whether they have considered a series of ten $180 resurfacing facials to help with their unsightly skin tone, before making them an appointment with Hans, my hair architect, and attacking them with bronzer made from genuine bronze flakes from the medals of the 2008 Olympics US swim team. (RRP $456,289.)
I jest! I jest. The bronzer is actually produced from the Canadian swim team’s medals.
But seriously, everyone is obviously entitled and encouraged to have an opinion, and I welcome curiosity about my profession. However, I’m not interested in defending an entire industry simply because I write about how to use its wares. It’s kind of like getting upset at someone teaching you how to use your Spray N Wipe, or drive the car you bought.
People are going to buy cosmetics and moisturiser and razors whether I am here or not, and it’s better they know what to do with these things rather than waste the money on something that ends up frustrating or disappointing them.
Put simply, I exist as an interpreter between all of those exciting, confusing, gorgeous products, trends and services out there, and you.
Occasionally I become evangelical about some of these trends, services or products (see: protection, sun) because I’ve seen what they can do and am passionate about their benefits, but mostly I just delight in showing you what’s available out there, and how you can use it in a way that’s meaningful for you. If by “meaningful”, you mean, “makes you feel (and look) better.”
Because that’s what it’s all about in the end, isn’t it? That’s why we clean our face and paint our nails and style our hair – because it makes us feel better than if we didn’t. Taking pride in our appearance isn’t something to be ashamed of: if walking out of the house with healthy hair and skin, and a mood-lifting lipstick and the scent of amber on your skin makes you feel outstanding, then who is anyone to dictate you do otherwise?
Speaking (“writing/reading”) of feeling outstanding, here are some things that always make me feel great, even when I get fined $1800 for not responding to a jury duty notice, even though they sent it to an address I haven’t lived at for four years, and so I had no idea I had been called up:
1. Painting my fingernails a ludicrous colour.
It is impossible to be grim when your fingernails bellow with vibrancy and colour. Try something frivolous which will enchant you each time you look at your nails, and inspire curiosity and compliments from strangers and friends alike. I am planning a whole post on nail polish (What’s that? There are people whose job it is to save LIVES?), but in the interim may I recommend OPI’s Charged Up Cherry ($19.95) (a blue-based pink suitable for cool skin tones, although I am olive-skinned and wear it to a certain death) or Essie’s California Coral ($8 USD) (a melony-peachy-coral perfect for warmer/olive/dark skin tones.)? Terrific. Thank you.
2. Creating an exhilarating Point of Focus on my face.
Lipstick is the obvious one (try Sportsgirl or the David Jones brand for cheap, arresting, semi-matte lipsticks in flamingo pinks and sweet baby corals and bombshell reds), but has a lady ever considered doing something wild on her eyes perhaps? Like a slash of turquoise or gold eyeliner along the upper lashline, or even – gasp – along the lower lashline ONLY, teamed with mascara and subtle lips to keep things modern and grown upsy? Of course, metallics are very big this season, so an eyelid full of bronze or gold or pearly silver is certainly not out of the question, and in fact, might just be the answer to the question, whatever that question was.
Finally, I beg you to consider the cheeks. Such a look of health and freshness and radiance can be achieved by making the cheeks the focus, yet few seem to recognise this. I recommend the new “sporty cheek,” made popular on the runways in September, which is neither bronzer, nor blush, but a terracotta-peachy-coral-apricot shade that shimmies delightfully between the two. It’s very pretty with a ponytail and no other makeup save for mascara and a face of healthy-looking, fresh foundation. (Try a liquid foundation with a touch of liquid illuminator – such as Revlon Age Defying Spa Face Illuminator – mixed in.)
3. Doing someone else’s makeup.
Sadly, while I have at least five eye shadow palettes and 822 lipsticks, I have only one face. So, sometimes I accost nearby females and use these products on their face. They seem to enjoy being adorned with surprising new shades (“lilac eye shadow, how daring!”) and textures (“LIQUID bronzer? Exactly what brand of sorcery IS this?”), and I seem to enjoy seeing my friends and family try something new, and be mistaken for extras from a Pitbull film clip.
Obviously –and this almost goes without saying -I also love the occasional spray tan. I love them for the same reason we all do: the alluring scent, and the browny-orange marks on my sheets.
Yes! Turquoise eyeliner! Really!