Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Their Painted Faces - by Bonnie (c)2011

Prompt:  If you could start your life over what would you do differently?

            Maybe I would start wearing makeup at a younger age. I know, I know…most people would probably choose something like:  I would spend more time in the garden or I would judge less and listen more.  But do you have any idea how hard it is to learn to apply makeup when you are in your forties?   
           When I was younger I never had need of it. I was always athletic and fit and looked great in just my skin. Now, even though I am still in fairly good shape, still healthy, I need whatever help I can get to make me look a little more attractive, or at least a little younger. So I have decided to start spackling my face with colour.  Makeup!  Now there’s a minefield.  Who knew it was so complicated?  
            When I was a kid, my sister had one of those Barbie Styling Head toys. Have you ever seen one of these things?  It creeped me out then, and the thought of it still makes me shudder a little.  It’s basically a large, plastic doll’s head cut off at the shoulders and fitted onto a base. Little girls create hairstyles and apply makeup to it.  My sister would spend hours playing with this thing, experimenting with colour schemes and dressing the hair in different styles, but I never really got it. 
            “This look is for when she is going out on the town,” she’d say very seriously, standing back so I would have sufficient room to appraise it properly.  Or, “here she is going to work in an office.”
            I would roll my eyes at her and head outside to play with the boys. War was the name of our game.  It involved sticks and running around trying to use them on each other.
            Even as a teenager I became disoriented whenever I walked into the bathroom at school and found myself confronted by a line of girls jockeying for space in front of the mirrors.  There would be a noxious cloud of hairspray hovering over them as they applied yet another layer of sticky lip gloss onto their pursed lips. 
            I preferred sports, and still do.
            But now I find myself crawling back to those very same girly types I distained, sadly in need of some help.
Twenty year old makeup counter girls explain to me the absolute necessity of concealer and discuss the pros and cons of shades of brown vs. shades of green eye shadow with my skin tone.  I try to focus when they’re talking, honestly I do—but I find myself staring at their painted faces and wondering if I dragged my finger down their skin, would it leave a trail? 
            Maybe if I had spent less time running around in the empty lot behind my house, trying to ambush Mike (who really was a little shit and very deserving of whatever he got), and more dressing up with my sister, I would be having an easier time of this whole aging thing now.
            Maybe, if I had played with the doll’s head I wouldn’t feel so out of touch when I look in a mirror today and wonder about the middle-aged woman staring back at me, or why her hair is such a mess. Would that have staved off the rapid decline of my skin, or the graying of my hair?  Or worse still, the downward migration of my breasts?
            After a day navigating the perfumed makeup counters or the over-priced hair salon that has suddenly become de rigueur, I find myself tying up my sneakers with anxious fingers, desperate for a run, or packing my swim bag and rushing to the pool.  Afterward, in the showers, I notice the sideward glances of teenaged girls. They’re thinking what I was thinking at their age.
            I am never going to look like that. 
            I just smile and turn around to give them a back view of their future horror. And the potions I buy – the lipsticks, the face creams, the powders – just keep accumulating in my bathroom cabinet while I go, go, go.

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