Sunday, October 10, 2010

Beauty Base Zero

It was Southwest High School’s Homecoming this week, and I kept tripping over School Spirit in the hallway. It took up a lot of space, energetic and otherwise. But Emma and Angie really managed to pull off the “dressed in purple and sporting war paint” look, which can be tricky, so I was impressed. Last night was the Homecoming Dance, so the stylin’ was flyin’ at the Upstairs Bathroom Command Center.

If this house were a magazine, it would be a fall-season combo issue of In Style, Glamour, plus a supersize spread of “Who Wore it Best?” pages. Here is the magazine this house would NOT be: Real Simple.

Anyone under 20 who walks through our doors leaves with a makeover. It’s like a movie montage – sweet girls arriving for sleepover, sultry starlets leaving the next morning, having Dad carry their sleeping bags because the manicure needs to stay fresh.

Our house is like a giant Beauty Blob that spreads over its inhabitants. It misses me, consistently (honestly? Have you seen me lately? I look more like Ma Joad every day), but it covers the girls something fierce.

This summer, we hosted a lovely student from Nanjing, who told us about her school’s strict appearance policy: no nail polish, no earrings, nothing fancy with the hairdos. Within 24 hours, the girl could say “mani pedi” in flawless English, and was already well-versed in the stylistic differences between flat irons and curling irons, with the clear understanding that the “Chi,” whatever it did, was an object of deep aspiration. She went back to China with a suitcase full of lip gloss and a completely corrupted attitude.

And while Emma had been seriously considering asking for a boy as an exchange student, I can’t quite see how that might have worked. The brassiere-shopping marathons, the long discussions of threading vs. plucking – I wonder how he would have stayed connected to the family when all anyone around here wants to do is try on shoes.

At The House on Maybelline Street, we remain committed to gleaming, glossy, luscious gorgeousness, the sort that’s never found in nature but has primary residence in LA. The commitment was in evidence on the Saturday afternoon of the homecoming dance. The shower started running around 3 p.m. I was leaving for 5 p.m. Mass when I finally caught sight of Emma. Ducking into the bathroom to brush my teeth, I noticed an array of tubes and bottles I didn’t even know we owned. Her skin has been on the planet for all of fifteen years; seriously, what does she need to remove from it, anyway? Based on the exfoliation lineup on display, I was surprised there was anything left of her.

But there she was, striding purposefully into the bedroom. (Emma is a purposeful strider by nature; even when she was learning to walk, she went fast, and in a straight line.) “I’m at Beauty Base Zero,” she announced, conveying the attitude that I might want to pick up a notebook and jot this down.

“Do tell more,” I said, on cue.

“Beauty Base Zero is the pure, raw state in which you must put yourself before you begin to add on layers of polish and makeup and whatever.”

“About this Zen state of pre-glamour,” I inquired. “Do the boys get themselves to Base Zero, too?”

The returned look, pitying, indicated that if the boys attending this dance had bothered to take a shower, she would consider herself lucky. Boys, I sensed, were not going to get a lot of time with Emma tonight, at least not more than the mirror.

She flipped her well-conditioned hair back with her perfectly exfoliated hand and sighed. “Only three hours to go,” she barked to her flawless reflection. “Time to get to work.”

1 comment:

  1. Beauty base zero from the Hunger Games, I presume?