Monday, July 21, 2014

Real Talk: Barefaced and Gymmin' It

Good afternoon!

I have to tell you, I'm feeling like the "Good NEWWWS, it's MONDAY!" desk flowerpot from Tom Goes to the Mayor this Monday...there's big news coming next week, but I'm far too harried in terms of work-work and things-outside-of-work-work to discuss it at length right now. Today’s question, as it's on my mind: how clothes or body or appearance conscious would you call yourself?

I told you guys the other day I managed to commit to a membership to the YMCA, and I’ve been a frequent presence in the wellness center lately, gulping down bottled water and watching “COPS” on the exercycle while the minutes count down. Me, leaning over to Matthew on another bike, huffing, "How...Rochelle...that girl...she had a knife...AND she was drunk...driving...?!" as the miles click away. I still have no idea what I’m doing (is there a “Use the Gym Membership to the Best of Your Abilities for Dummies” out there, somewhere?), but I am feeling good doing some kind of cardio a couple times a week in order to blast away some of this “ONE more glass of wine won’t kill me” lethargy fat accrued over the last few months. Because those forties’ and fifties’ dresses aren't going to get any bigger! It’s me that has to get smaller to continuing donning my beloved wardrobe with grace and style. At any rate, I thought I’d tell you about the other day when I was waiting in the car at Kroger’s, and posted the following selfie (#selfieobsessed) to my Instagram:

It’s my thing: I wait in the car, Matthew goes in and gets last minute grocery/household items/liquor on the way home, I noodle around my phone, and somehow, a selfie always gets taken. VANITY, thy name is Lisa. Seconds after posting this one, I thought…ugh! Why are you putting images of yourself in less than perfect condition out into the world! No eyeliner?! No lipstick?! And in sweaty old t-shirt?! People will see you for the wildebeest you are! I felt a little bit of the panic those gals in the PBS series Colonial House felt… “Wait, no mascara? But! But!” as they hie to the bushes to try to rub red clay on their cheeks before the cameras get rolling. Where did this slavish devotion to public appearance come from? While I have always loved wearing whatever looked good to me, which could be a leopard print capelet or an eye-blindingly bright maxi-dress, this “Wait, what if someone sees me at less than my best?” definitely feels like a more recent occurrence.

Me with makeup, for comparison, with additional Matthew photo. Hi-ya, cutie!
While I have never, not-ever worn pajamas in public, I think my real style conscious self-strictures came sometime post-college when I moved into my house. At twenty-two, with a real grown up job teaching French and English, I had to think about being up in front of thirty pairs of high school eyes trained on me with the laser-like scrutiny of teenagerdom. Remember how when you were thirteen, “Where did you get that shirt?” could be interpreted to mean anything from “I want to know so I can get one!” to “Does your mom shop at Kmart?” Or how you could probably do a reasonable police sketch of every outfit your favorite teacher wore the year you were in her class (I’m thinking specifically of young and fun Miss Farrell, fifth grade year, with cool jeans, frizzy red hair, and festive vests)? In my French class, a sixteen year old girl once balked at my Old Navy shirt, emblazoned with an oversized applique of a fish, with “A fish? Why you got a fish on your shirt? What’s with the fish? You see Miss S has a fish on her shirt? Wearin’ a fish like…” etc, etc. Same class, different kid, “Why do you always wear black? Is black your favorite color or something?” Or, "I like what Miss S is wearing but I couldn't wear it. She's not stacked like me. She do got a booty, though" (still something Matthew echoes as I'm trying on clothes at Goodwill, "You DO got a booty though). And my favorite, as my weight ballooned as my stress with the teaching environment went through the roof, “I know, I know! You’re pregnant! Are you pregnant, Miss S? I bet you’re gonna have a baby!” No less than maybe twenty separate instances of that. Fun, right? Two years later I had lost something like seventy five pounds after a strict diet of no starch, no sugar, no nothing. And as I lost the weight, I made a vow with every lousy salad that I was never wearing anything I didn’t like again. Which, in turn, led to a my-idol-Joan-Crawford like fastidiousness of dress and appearance.

What I look like in my head at all times...maybe with a teensy bit less eyebrow pencil (I still love you, JC) source.
And while I’m no celebutante, I honestly don’t leave the house ever without my makeup. It takes literally less than ten minutes to throw on the following:
  • Maybelline liquid black eyeliner and just a little mascara (I found out sometime after college that the best way to elongate my large, hooded eyes was to draw a Cleopatra like line to either side…it’s still my favorite look)
  • Bare Minerals Powder applied over Clinique lotion (Norris Church Mailer mentioned in her memoirs that Marilyn Monroe’s roommate told her she used a similar trick to make her face glow in a “natural” way…so if you can believe the story from me-from Mailer-from MM’s roommate, that’s only three degrees from La Monroe!)
  • Revlon Fire and Ice lipstick—the only red lipstick that both doesn’t make me look like I’ve borrowed someone’s mom’s makeupcase and/or makes my eyes appear more blue than green.
That might sound like a lot to someone who faces the day sans maquillage, but I take that as the bare minimum so that I can leave the house. For a workday, I draw my eyeliner more sedately; on the weekend, I might roll up like Maria Callas in your house. Either way though, I’ve gotten to the point where seeing my makeup less face doesn’t feel like “me” anymore. Know what I mean?

However! This is actually one of my most commented-upon photos on Facebook since pro-o-obaby my wedding!

I was just this side of flabbergasted to see all the nice “aw, you look nice anyway!” comments and 31 likes. I certainly hadn’t meant it as a “fishing for compliments” photo and almost took it down, thinking, “Someone, somewhere is going, ‘ugh, look what she looks like without makeup!’ ” I did apply one of the basic filters to the picture because I’m not a masochist, but it was amazing how nice people were about my face even without the usual enhancements I've taken to really put across "who I am". And without my characteristic tiny belt, beret, and lipstick, how would you know I was me?! These are things I've been thinking about lately in light of barefaced gym attendance. 

Color me obsessed with this?! (source)
I want to know what you think! Not about my own face, but about yours-- do you have makeup or hair styles that make you feel more like "you"? Where did you happen across them or when was the eureka moment when you realized you weren't to leave the house without [fake eyelashes, beehive, blue eyeshadow...or all of the above!]? What clothes do you think of when you think "that's the kind of clothes that I wear". Is your appearance "a symbol of [your] individuality, and [your] belief... in personal freedom" (still one of my favorite quotes of all time)? Do you ever get hassled for being "too dressed up" or made up? Let's talk!

I have babbled on WAY TOO MUCH about myself today, but I intend to come back and do more of the same tomorrow! :) Have a great Monday night! I'll see you then.


  1. Well, here's another "you look terrific without the makeup!" Either way.

  2. Thumbs up to the natural look! But that is coming from a gal that does not own (or know what to do with) la maquillage.

  3. I looooooooove the natural look on you! You are so lucky to look so pretty without any make-up and with hair tied back etc. I was just thinking about this over the weekend. It was boiling hot and I was doing household cleaning, so had my hair scraped back completely off my face in a ponytail, no make-up and glasses, and I looked TERRIBLE!!!! In general, I don't wear full make-up, but a little eyebrow filling, eyeliner and lipstick makes a huge difference on me! I long to be one of the lucky few who can put their hair in a pony or bun and have it all off their face and still look good, but it is just SO unflattering on me. Waaaaaaaaah!

  4. Wow-I can see why the picture generated so many comments. You look like a French film star! You are a natural beauty!

    I grew up in the 60's and 70's-and the "natural look" was very in where I lived. I don't wear makeup very much-in fact-hardly ever. My husband ALWAYS thinks women look better without makeup, so that is nice for me ;) To be honest, I don't think about my appearance that much. The one thing I cannot leave the house without? Vaseline on my lips-I am addicted and have been forever. Funny, when I was in college, one day a girl on my floor said "why do you put on makeup when you go to bed?". I couldn't figure out what she meant, until I realized she was talking about my lips. I cannot stand the feel of dry lips, no way!

    My dad lives in the Nashville area, and one summer I was visiting him-we were at the Hermitage walking around outside, and I thought "how does anyone wear makeup here? It would melt right off!". It is so hot and humid there-it seems like it would be a lost cause applying makeup!

  5. i've always said i hated makeup but that's really because i didn't know what to do with it. now i do at least mascara and some bb cream to even things out a little. i have several kinds of liquid eyeliner because i love that cat eye look but i'm terrible at doing it! and i have that red lip pencil that i LOVE but hardly wear. To me it makes me feel like not myself. But I'm working on it because I love how it looks!
    I love your makeup look, it is so classy! But you look great without with that great skin you have! gorgeous!



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