Last week I took a rare trip to the makeup counter at Macy’s. I went because there was a special and I needed a couple of small things. As often happens (maybe because I’m a sucker), I ended up sitting in a chair while a young woman wearing lots of eyeshadow touched my face.
Now back in my teaching days, I needed a second job for awhile, so I used to work at one of these counters and I remember how this works. The girl with lots of eyeshadow needs to present herself as the expert and to do that she needs to make me feel insecure about my face or my skin or my eyes–whatever will help her sell me something to cover up or enhance or accentuate my features. Those are words the eyeshadowed girls use a lot.
So, anyway, I’m in the chair and the eyeshadowed girl is scrutinizing my face. After a pause, she asks, “So how old are you, dear?”
I smile (I know what’s coming.) and say proudly, “31.”
“Oh? Really? Hmm…” Delicate pause. “Well, let me show you one of our new products that will help you get rid of those circles under your eyes and get you back to looking more your age.”
“Circles?” I think, “I didn’t notice any circles this morning–hmm. Maybe I do need to put a little more effort into my appearance. Did I even look in the mirror this morning when I left? I wonder what the rest of me looks like.”
I sat there in that chair and began to feel more and more insecure. I decided it was time to change the subject. “So,” I asked, “what do you do when you’re not at Macy’s?”
“Well, I have a three year old little boy and he takes a lot of my time. When I’m not here then mostly I’m doing his laundry.” She laughs with a tired smile.
I sense that she wants to change the subject, so I ask how long she’s worked at Macy’s.
“Oh, on and off– about a year.” Ok, let’s change the subject again. So I ask if she had enjoyed the long weekend.
“Well, my boyfriend and I got in a fight, but then later we grilled out with his family, so… no I guess not.”
Ouch. A little too much information. She realizes this and changes the subject, but thankfully not to my dark under eye circles. “So, what about you? What do you do?”
“Well, I’m an artist…”
In a effort to steer the conversation away from my facial flaws, I describe my life for her. I talk about my art, our travel, living overseas– anything but makeup. And as I talk I realize, my life is really good. I look at her perfect makeup and I contrast my life with hers and decide that even with my under eye circles, I’d rather be me.
Finally, she steps back and hands me a mirror. “Now, doesn’t that look nice,” she says. “What do you think of that concealer? Should I put that in your bag, too?”
“No thanks, I don’t need it.”