I have learned to embrace my “look”.

I first fell in love with cosmetics as a young girl when I came upon a set of diagrams my mother had on how to apply makeup that she had gotten from a course she took.

As I got older I began to realize that if I applied makeup to my eyes the right way they would appear larger and less downcast. My Mother would often tell me that I had Basset Hound eyes. I’m sure she thought that was an endearing way to describe me, but it never quite felt like that. She would also tell me I looked Hawaiian. It certainly gave me pause for thought since my whole family was Sicilian. Now the two comments gave me quite a visual. I could now imagine myself as a Basset Hound in a grass skirt doing the Hula.

It’s amazing how a parent describes you can so infiltrate your mind. Needless to say one of my obsessions became trying to find a way to change my “look” so that I would fit in better with my family of origin. Once you start down the path of thinking you don’t look “right”, it’s tough to get back to not worrying about it. Over the years I spent more money on eye shadow, eye liner, mascara, blush and more. I would often sit with make up artists who were doing free makeup in department stores who promised they would show me “magic” tricks to help me create the look I was seeking. The magic didn’t last long , it disappeared when I washed my face.

I was not the only one who fell into this insanity. A lot of my female friends had the same desires to  achieve a look that they thought would be more pleasing and attractive. What I now find amusing is that many of the models that used to advertise the products I bought have literally disappeared from the magazines I eagerly looked through. Their faces were symmetrical. They had big eyes, high cheek bones, and pouty lips. And yes I know they had makeup artists that helped them look perfect. However, in the ensuing years a different kind of look has taken over. A lot of models now have asymmetrical features and are certainly unique looking. They are most definitely more indigenous to a global culture.

Some celebrities are embracing a “no makeup” look which ironically does need a little makeup to create. I still love makeup but I have come to grips with my “look”, because everyone else’s is taken. More importantly you never know when Vogue or Bazaar might call because they need a short, Hawaiian like woman with eyes like a Basset Hound to sit under a coconut tree advertising lipstick that tastes like pineapple.

We are not the center of the universe but rather a part of it.

Whenever I was invited to someone’s home, I was expected to go there with a set of rules that I was given since birth. I actually think my mother began her program on manners when I was in utero. The list was endless. “Don’t interrupt when an adult is speaking to you, don’t begin eating until your host does, no elbows on the table, eat small bites, gnawing on a big piece of meat is akin to looking like a dog, make your bed and leave the room as neat as possible, ask if you can help clean up after dinner, look at whomever is speaking to you, say please, and thank you, and try to engage in conversation rather than simply saying  ‘whatever or I don’t know’. And last but not least send a thank you note.”

Does the above sound daunting? Is it over the top ?  You might think so, but the fact of the matter is that a great majority of my contemporaries were brought up the same way. I’m sure there are many parents that are still teaching these important values, but the society in general is showcasing a lack of respect for skills that help make the world a kinder more gracious place.

I first noticed this shift many years ago when one of my distant relatives visited with a couple of their children. They walked in the door without so much as a hello, and began their litany of demands. “Can we go to the movies?  Is there any ice cream? Does she have any toys?”  Now I don’t know about you, but my mother always used to ask me who was “she”. Does she have a name? Her go to metaphor always followed, “She is the cats mother”! I still don’t know how that related and I still don’t.

The first hour they were visiting my cousin must have asked them a few hundred questions about what they wanted to eat, what they wanted to do, or where they wanted to go. I began to feel that I was part of an interrogation unit for the FBI. They could not possibly navigate this chaos of choice. She filled up bowls with fruit loops and milk, brought out Barbie Dolls, paper and crayons and more. There was not one thank you nor did they clean up after themselves. When I questioned her about this, she said they were just kids and should have as much fun as possible.

Needless to say, their visit became pleasant when they left. These children have grown up to be self absorbed and totally indifferent to anyones else’s needs. The messages we receive about our place in the world is an incredibly important one. We need to know we are not the center of the universe but rather a part of it.