Lil’ Old Ladies

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on

You’ve seen a senior woman and thought, “Did she look in the mirror when she put on that makeup? Does she know what she looks like? Can’t she see the clumpy mascara, messy bright blue eyeshadow, and too thick eyeliner? Why is her lipstick covering more face than her lips?” I am here to explain these mysteries.

Embarking on this mission implies the author has a level of familiarity with the topic at hand that is, unfortunately, well and true. It began with needing to wear my reading glasses to look in my makeup magnifying mirror to see the eyebrow hairs that were waiting to be plucked. The first time I did this, I could not believe how many strays had escaped both of these measures separately. This was the first inkling that I wasn’t seeing all there was to see and didn’t know what I couldn’t see.

Memory brain kicked in, and I remembered years ago, I was involved with women’s ministry at a presbyterian church, helping to organize and host events for women of all ages. A mental picture I still recall, though a bit blurry or faded, is an elderly woman, walking with her cane, to whom I gave an arm and then helped to one of the spring tea tables. The decor centered around beautiful teapot, some with cozies.

Her cosmetics were colored outside the lines, all of them. I marveled at the bright sky blue eyeshadow reaching up to penciled eyebrows, which were not adhering to a natural brow shape and which were not penciled in equal to the other. Her mascara and eyeliner seemed to be one and the same with serious eyelash clumps. And I thought, “Did she not look in a mirror while applying her face or before she left the house?” I vowed to quit wearing makeup if I couldn’t wear it well. She’d done her best to get ready for this tea, and here I was critiquing. All these thoughts raced through my mind.

As petty as it was, petty as I was, the memory of this woman was a guideline for me, when my vision became deleterious. So began the inconvenient tweezing of eyebrows with reading glasses to look in a magnifying mirror. Over the years, applying mascara and eyeliner required use of the enlarged reflection, but eyeshadow? Not much can go wrong there, right? I believed I’d addressed the issue by sticking to earthtones. No blues for me, no matter the current trends. Oh, I’ve also learned that fashion styles are not meant for women of a certain age. For me, I avoided the shifts and drifts in ‘Do’s and Don’ts” imparted by fashionistas.

The eyeshadow failed me eventually, disappearing after I’d been satisfied with my application. I’d reapply to both eyes, but by the time I finished, it was already soaking into my skin. Most times, the saturation of the powder was uneven, with some areas maintaining the intended color but others appeared much lighter. Attempting to add eyeshadow to the light spots results in darker color than I wanted for daytime. It was driving me nuts. Add face primer, before painting. I’d never anticipated this challenge. I am streamlining my makeup regimen and am comfortable going without, though my eyes disappear. Talk about disappearing, where the hell are my eyebrows going?

That older woman has:

  • done her best, using a mirror. This was a big event, tea at the church. She is not aware of clumps or lipstick pips here and there. She feels beautiful.
  • put on some makeup. She’s sure it’s not perfect and she doesn’t give a hoot. She likes bright colors. She feels beautiful.
  • been made up by her sister. You know sisters. She feels beautiful.

Yes, how petty of me.

Published by Sara Z

Writing is one of my passions. Most blog entries are relatively short articles regarding a wide variety of topics. I'm a middle-aged wife and mother of two adult sons. I've been a teacher, counselor, medical transcriptionist, student teacher supervisor, substitute teacher and retail clerk. Staying home now due to fibromyalgia. Seeking purpose.

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