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Beauty Magazines Spew Fairy Tales

Or, why you should never take makeup direction from Dopey

Photo by Ivan Aleksic on Unsplash

I have a bone to pick with the beauty industry. What’s with the current trend of telling women of a certain age (a.k.a. my age) that all they need to look their best is moisturizer and a little mascara?

I’ve seen this nugget of nonsense in no fewer than five women’s publications. And please don’t tell me it was their annual “Men Edit the Magazine!” issue, or we’re going to have much bigger problems than being encouraged to forgo our foundation.

Have you ever tried this moisturizer and mascara only trick?

I have. The very same day I received my subscription to one of the aforementioned magazines, I listened to its obviously sleep deprived beauty editor and went “cosmetics commando.”

I scrubbed off my makeup, slathered on enough moisturizer to polish a pickup, and touched up my mascara. I even pulled my hair back to highlight my “healthy glow.” Then I stepped out of the bathroom and scared the hell out of my husband.

“Stomach hurts, huh?” he asked. I looked at him like he was nuts. I felt fine; dewy fresh and fabulous. I had no idea that I appeared to be glistening with the fever that foreshadows an Ebola breakout.

Undeterred, and clueless to my striking resemblance to “The Scream,” I took off to run errands.

At the bank, my favorite teller skipped the small talk we usually make and instead asked how my family was faring with “the flu thing” that’s complicating “the COVID thing.” I replied that we hadn’t had it. “Well, get ready,” she replied.

At the post office, the clerk took one look at me and reached for a fresh pair of plastic gloves. Since this is the norm now, I didn’t think anything of it. But when he asked if I had “the bad cold” he and his co-workers were coping with “on top of the COVID shit” and I replied in the negative, he slipped on a second surgical mask.

It went on like this at the pharmacy, gas station, and drycleaners, where the owner pointed first to her face, then to mine, and whispered, “Oooooh. Skin like Sleeping Beauty!” Initially I took it as a compliment. 

But then I wondered; wasn’t that poor kid in a coma?

I was beginning to feel like an unwitting participant in some covert study of communicable diseases when it hit me: My make-up free face was freaking people out.

What was I thinking listening to some self-proclaimed magazine beauty pro? I worked in the magazine business. I know better. They come up with an idea — think cuffed wool short-shorts, halter tops, and spiked heels “Perfect for your presentation to the PTO!,” modified mullets and green mascara, “He’ll love your new look!” — then perpetrate it on the American public. Trust me when I tell you they don’t wear the stuff themselves.

And they don’t run around naked-faced.

I can’t believe I was out and about with my complexion as “rosy” as a garlic clove. I raced home to my mad scientist assortment of drugstore and department store cosmetics (a collection so extensive I expect the beauty police will one day slap me with a makeup misdemeanor), locked myself in the bathroom and didn’t emerge until I’d L’Oreal-ed and Lancome-d, Maybelline-d and MAC-ed my way back.

And boy was my husband happy. “Whew! For a minute there you looked like Snow White,” he said.

First Sleeping Beauty and now Snow White. That’s what I get for taking makeup direction from Dopey.

Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in Humor, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Personal Narrative