BlogHer: The Reckoning

Yesterday I went to the mall in San Jose with some fine women and I had my very first Sephora experience. It was a little intimidating. I have lost the knack for makeup. Before I left Santa Barbara I went into the Aveda store thinking I'd get a little eye shadow, or perhaps some blush, so that I could appear like something of a grownup when I arrived at BlogHer. But Aveda freaked my shit out. A male employee approached me first, which threw me off my already amateurish game. After he said May I Help You? I started gibbering about whether I should change my conditioner or not (WTF? I couldn't admit that I needed help buying makeup to a probably-not-terribly-heterosexual man? I have been in the suburbs TOO LONG), and he said smartly, "What kind of hair do you have?"

"Brown," I answered helpfully.

"Yes, but is it oily, or dry?" he continued patiently.

"It's just . . . hair," I said, edging away. Frankly, I was being willfully ignorant, I admit, I have "normal" hair, I know that, but I became anxious with someone who assimed that I could participate in the Beauty Conversation. It was a completely reflexive reaction that comes from the same place that for years kept me going into Starbucks and just asking for a cup of coffee, you figure out if it's a grande vente Americano with whip, you . . . you . . . barista.

It's so much fun being stubborn and nourishing your Luddite tendencies.

As I went through my twenties, one by one I dropped all the high school products I used to think separated me from the apes -- foundation, blush, nail polish. I remember clearly the shock I felt the day I realized it was okay to leave the house without mascara, that my eyes wouldn't look like two pinholes in a rotten pumpkin. Gradually I became completely anti-makeup and I came to see it in very black-and-white terms. There was nothing on my spectrum between Barbie Doll and person with integrity and character who would not enable the jackbooted patriarchy to define her attractiveness or sexual self-confidence and so simply chose to shower occasionally.

Well, guess what? I'm forty-two now and it turns out that a little bit of blush keeps me from looking like a cadaver! It's pretty simple, really, if you repress the knowledge that every purchase is a political act.

Hence, I owe JenB a big smooch because I was standing in the middle of Sephora with a dirty bandanna around my head going, God, this hair-growing-out shit is getting arduous, when the fuck am I ever going to be able to take off this goddamn gypsy headware? And Jen picked up a tube of Frederik Fekkai Glossing Cream and, you know, I don't want to drown you in hyperbole, but she SAVED MY LIFE. This stuff is PERFECT. I woke up this morning and for the first time in months my hair didn't look like I'd styled it with an Oster hand mixer. Also, Alice picked out a lipstick for me that I'd never have dreamed would look good on me. And MelissaS helped by being awesome.