The second Ava turned 10, she asked if she could wear makeup. No. Could she have a cell phone? No. Could she open a Facebook account? No. Could she sit in the front seat of the car? No.
No. No. No.
It seems as though the knowledge of being a “double-digit age”, which she will be for the rest of her adult life, has sparked an interest in all things grown up. It’s hard enough to keep appropriate shoes on her feet now that she’s into a lady’s size 8. That’s right. She can wear my shoes, and she wears them well. A little too well, I might add.
“Can I wear dressy shoes now?” No. “But I have to shop in women’s shoe stores,” she argued. Where they sell flats, I countered.
But as I try to slow life down (since I can’t shrink her feet), I remember how I used to spend my playtime as a child. I wore my mother’s high heels around the house, sashaying like Daisy Duke; I tried on her lipstick just to blot it on Kleenex; I hosed myself down with perfume like it was a can of air freshener. It wasn’t.
I wanted to be like her. I wanted to act like her. I wanted to dress like her. And she let me. And we both looked ridiculous.
Perhaps it was their advanced age, but my parents treated me like an adult from day one. They didn’t play with me — they talked to me. They didn’t buy toys — they bought clothes. They didn’t plan family trips — they arranged historic tours. They didn’t order tickets to the circus – they watched evening dramas. I knew more about Falcon Crest than the Justice League.
When I turned 14, my mother took me to the cosmetics counter at Stone & Thomas and had the sales consultant tackle my eighth grade face. I left with a bag of expensive products, from full coverage foundation and powder to a saturated lipstick.
“You need some color,” my mother announced, filling in her lips with British Redcoat. “You’re fair, so you can look washed out if you aren’t careful.”
I went to school the following Monday wearing the Estee Lauder palette. Within five minutes of homeroom, I was wiping smudged mascara off my pale cheeks. “IT’S KATHRYN CLOWN!” one boy shouted. (I heard he’s in prison now…).
I went to the bathroom and cleaned my face with stiff, brown paper towels and were fanned into an accordion pattern from being jammed in the machine. I wouldn’t need blush for a week as my face was raw from scrubbing. But other girls were wearing makeup, too — blue eye shadow being the toy of choice. After that, I stuck to powder to cover up the blemishes from oil-based foundation and some frosted pink gloss. Then, I moved onto hair products that would keep my 80′s helmet head secured in case of a Cat-4 hurricane.
Now that I’m 40, I can wear British Redcoat with confidence, as long as my Starbucks-stained teeth don’t ruin the look. But a tweenage girl? No ma’am. When the time is right, the girls and I will plan a mother-daughter weekend at the Easton Mall in Columbus to learn the tricks of the trade. I like makeup artist Bobbi Brown’s philosophy of teenage beauty, which is to accentuate rather than recreate. She teaches young women the proper way to take care of their skin, how to cover up problem areas and play up their best features. Colors are subtle and natural looking, and they’re virtually error-proof for the untrained hand. For now, Ava’s cosmetic bag will contain Chapstick and suncreen. To pass the time, she can read about makeup in Brown’s book, “Beauty Rules”, which covers a lot of the topics left out of the popular manual, “The Care and Keeping of You”.
And that reminds me: The American Girl store at Easton opened on June 22nd. Ava can take her doll to the spa and salon for a “day of magic”. I’ll be happy to pay for that makeover.
The nearest Bobbi Brown counter is located at Nordstrom in Columbus, Ohio. For the eager tween, there are minimalist products such as Yogi Bare lip balm and artistry workshops.
This is an opinion piece. No discounts, freebies or samples were accepted (or offered!).