I’m glad I didn’t realize at the outset that professional makeup artist Judy Doduk of Judy D Beauty expected me to “own the room” before we started.
If I had, I might have balked at the prospect. All I wanted was “a bit more” than my usual regimen of lip gloss and eyebrow pencil before facing the world.
After reading Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth in the 90s I had abandoned the elaborate morning maquillage ritual that prompted my then husband to joke to friends, “The woman who goes into the bathroom and the one who comes out is not the same person.”
Wolf points out, “What editors are obliged to appear to say what men want from women is actually what their advertisers want from women.” She cites the billions made by making women feel so insecure they will reach for that elixir fixer or knife to achieve it. No matter what the cost.
Wolf believes, “She wins who calls herself beautiful and challenges the world to change to truly see her.” In my early 40s, I was up for that challenge. I minimized my makeup routine to near zero and never looked back.
However, now things had changed. First, I’d been nominated for an Abbotsford Arts Council Arty Award in the Outstanding Artist in the Literary Arts—a gratifying acknowledgement of my professional work along with my contribution to the arts scene in the city.
Then I learned the theme for the evening was “Old Hollywood” with a red carpet and all. Perfect! I could haul out my vintage 1940s mink stole, a black cocktail dress and bring on the bling. But to pull that off, my face and hair also had to live up to that style.
As my inner-little-girl with a love of dressing up in her DNA hadn’t been unleashed for a long, long while, I thought why not? However, after cataract surgery, I couldn’t see my face clearly enough to do the job myself. Nor did I have the requisite products on hand. So here I was, perched on a chair in my library with Judy rehearsing the glamorous Hollywood look we wanted to achieve for the big night.
Judy believes that each woman deserves to have that feeling of being so much more than her every day self, that feeling of wow! In my case, Judy said, “I think you have an inner joie de vivre and sense of style that has to shine through.” She explains that the run-through makes sure that there is no reaction to the makeup and that I feel both comfortable and confident with the look.
On the night of the Arty Awards Judy said, “I was thrilled to see you! When I saw you, you were glowing. I knew you had that inner feeling, that confidence and you looked incredible.”
I did feel incredible. I concede that I may have been glowing, but I’ve also felt equally incredible (and glowing—drip-drip) while circling Mill Lake in athletic wear. As I walked into to the Matsqui Centennial Auditorium entrance, I felt even better than amazing when MC Aaron Levy standing off to the side said, “Oh look! We got Meryl Streep.” A definite out-of-the-park hit for nailing Hollywood glamour.
Throughout the evening numerous colleagues and friends told me I looked fantastic or beautiful. Still, even though it was great fun getting all dolled up, I was pleased to be equally at ease with who I am sans maquillage, formal clothes or bling.
Wolf maintains, “The contemporary ravages of the beauty backlash are destroying women physically and depleting us psychologically. If we are to free ourselves from the dead weight that has once again been made out of femaleness, it is not ballots or lobbyists or placards that women will need first; it is a new way to see.”
Except, that’s not the whole story. There’s something else to see and understand anew. It’s easy to overlook that makeup and fashion are art forms in their own right. They play out on the canvas of the human body.
Judy’s meticulous application of the various creams, powders, pencils and colours complement my clothing, bring out the structural features of my face, and downplay the forces of gravity. She creates the bits that God (ahem!) forgot.
All people (not just women) express numerous things about themselves through their fashion and grooming choices. Sometimes the message says: Trust me; I’m in charge. Sometimes it says: Convention can rot. Or sometimes it screams: I am unattractive and unlovable. However, every person should understand that any message can be changed, sometimes with very small slights of an artist’s hand.
Although someone else lands the prize for Outstanding Artist in the Literary Arts that evening, I win Wolf’s challenge. I can call myself beautiful and challenge the world to truly see me—whether dolled up or dressed down.