From Adolescent to Middleaged and (Oh, No!) Back Again

Remember what I said last week, about not wanting to be an adolescent girl again? Turns out, I AM an adolescent girl again. Look at the horrifying evidence:

  • Hormonal;
  • Struggling with unwelcome changes in my body;
  • Ready to explore the world and (re)find my place in it;
  • Staring deeply into my own eyes while looking in a mirror and studying a book on how to look pretty.

I’d better explain that last one.

In sixth grade, at a school book fair, I purchased a book called Looking Pretty, Feeling Fine. I’m pretty sure my mother would have preferred I came home with To Kill a Mockingbird or something by Jane Austen, but I felt desperate to “look pretty.” 

I actually found the book on Amazon. You can own it for $1.98.

On Saturday nights, when my parents went out, I’d be in a leotard on the floor in the den, alternately stretching, flipping through the book, putting on makeup, and holding a mirror while brushing my hair, looking into my eyes to figure out who I saw in there. Was I pretty? What was in store for me next? When would it all begin? And how could I make it happen? The Saturday night TV shows did a great job of fanning those flames. I bet you can guess what I watched: The Love Boat, followed by – remember? – Fantasy Island. The Love Boat was romantic and I had a crush on Gopher. And Fantasy Island was creepy and exciting: I could never tell if Ricardo Montalban was good or evil. Both took place in exotic locations and involved a series of beautiful adults experiencing big, full, adventurous lives. I wanted to experience it all, too. 

So, I was remembering Looking Pretty, Feeling Fine yesterday as I was sitting at my makeup table. Recently, I was browsing the book Making Faces by Kevin Aucoin (which I told you about back in January) and learned that using white eyeliner can make your eyes look bigger and brighter. Of course I absolutely had to go to Sephora to buy white eyeliner, and now I had the book open next to me while I tried it out. I was staring at the mirror to see if the eyeliner had the desired effect, and if I looked pretty, when it hit me: I have become a teenage girl. I have come full circle and am now doing the exact same things I did as a screwed-up teen. Have I even changed at all?

Breathe, Jen. Of course you’ve changed: You’re smarter. You have more world experience. And you have the ability to go out and make things happen on your own, instead of having to wait for your parents to give me a ride to Pizza Hut to play Galaga with a friend. (I know I’m in trouble when I start talking to myself in the third person.)
This has been a day of learning, so I have some tips to share:

Tip #1. Try white eyeliner; it really does seem to make your eyes seem bigger and brighter. Put it on on the inside of your lower lid and sort of blend it a little into the lower lash line. Then use your regular eye liner color. The white eyeliner shouldn’t be a thick white line. Blend it until it’s smudgy and you can hardly tell it’s there.

Wearing white eyeliner, Sephora Collection, Contour Matte Gel Eyeliner, $14.00

Tip #2. Consider and celebrate the freedom of being middleaged. Like, if I feel hormonal and don’t want to be near anyone, I have the option of hiding in my room with a pint of chocolate fudge brownie and nobody will tell me to come downstairs to empty the dishwasher and stop pouting. Actually, they may very well try to do that. But I can lock the door and tell them to go to hell, and they can’t take away my phone or confiscate my car keys.

Tip #3. Beauty books (and mirrors) can inspire or cause despair. Use with caution.

Tip #4. When your brain is exhausted, write only about superficial issues. Blogging about the issues facing middleaged women, and exploring the journey to what comes next, is significantly more taxing than writing about style & fashion. You spend more time rewriting and pulling your hair. You put more of yourself into it, so it’s scarier. Also, it’s hard. 

Tip #5. Totally unrelated but I wanted five lessons and it’s good to remember this even if it’s off topic: if your kids have eaten the whole tin of Altoids you keep in the car, try to remember to replenish the supply before you drink coffee on your way to church. Your fellow sopranos will appreciate it.

So, my friends, play with makeup, don’t think too many deep thoughts if you want to avoid a headache, stay safe, and, as always, have fun. 

Til next time.



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