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The Mall

September 3, 2012

I’m not a huge shopper, and definitely not a big mall-goer – which is why, after my last surgery, it amused me and my mom that my surgeon and his team measured my recovery in terms of whether I could go there. “You’ll be at the mall in no time!” or  “You can walk a little, but you shouldn’t go to the mall just yet.” or “No, it’s too soon for you to go back to work. You can go to the mall, though.” I’m not sure why they thought that would be somewhere I’d like to be, since I’m neither young enough to hang with the teenage crowd, nor old enough to be a mall walker. The fact that we laughed and/or made sarcastic remarks in response to the mall references did not deter them.

Yesterday, I finally went to the mall. Not to mark my 89-days-out-of-surgery milestone, but to learn about – maybe even purchase! – makeup.  I will be 28 in exactly three weeks, and yesterday was only the third time in my life that I’ve ever worn full makeup.

My previous experiences had not ended well. The first time was during a high school oral communications class, about 12 years ago. We had to do how-to speeches, and one of the girls had chosen putting on makeup as her topic. (Sidebar: I chose to teach the class how to lie with my speech, which I thought was a much more reasonable use of our time. The Baptist preacher who taught the class was not convinced.) The teacher suggested that it might be a good idea to demonstrate the steps on someone else while she gave the speech. A male classmate volunteered, which everyone enthusiastically supported – but then someone proposed my name. I tried to decline, but there was no avoiding it. Everyone agreed that I would make a far more interesting subject than the class clown. I was horrified by the end result. My classmates – especially the guys – were very nice, and told me how pretty I looked. But I was sure I looked like a clown – and unfortunately, no one had prepared a speech on how to remove makeup.  After an argument between classes with the principal, I spent much of the next class period in the girls’ bathroom, doing the best I could with non-absorbent school-quality brown paper towels.

I avoided makeup for nine more years, until I agreed to help a friend who was trying to become a model by posing with him in some pictures for his book. Another friend of his acted as our stylist for the day, and took charge of my outfit changes and makeup. Once again, the result was scary (see photo evidence below) – and made my face and eyes hurt. By the end of the shoot, my eyes were teary and bloodshot.


Since I do not have any positive associations with makeup, I was extremely apprehensive about yesterday’s trip. I wouldn’t have gone at all, except that tomorrow I start a new treatment, the main side effect of which is an acne-like skin rash. I have seen this rash, and it can be nasty. Studies have been done that link severity of the rash to effectiveness of the treatment – so instead of hoping it doesn’t happen to me, I decided to make plans to live with it. I don’t think I’m generally very vain, but I know I will be self-conscious if I develop skin problems on my face.

The night before last, my roommate had given me a general tutorial on makeup. Not on how to apply it, but on different types and their uses. Primer, concealer, foundation, tinted moisturizer, powder (this one is actually labeled as “makeup”), blush (which I called “blusher” – she thought the “er” was unnecessary), eyeshadow, and the brushes used to apply any of the above. This was all very useful, since the extent of my makeup knowledge until then had been applying and removing mascara (and even that I was barely proficient in, since I saved it for special occasions – to illustrate my lack of knowledge, I’ll share that I recently texted a friend as I was getting ready to find out whether I was supposed to put it on both upper and lower lashes, or just upper).

Before we walked into Sephora, my friends (I took not one, but two! for guidance and moral support – and to make sure I went through with it) coached me on what to say. When a clerk asked us if we needed help, however, I froze. Had I been alone, I would have said “No, thank you.” and walked out. Instead, I managed to communicate that I wanted to have my makeup done. After a short wait, I was seated at a counter. I was terrified. The “castmember” (that’s what they appear to be called at Sephora) asked me what I was looking for, and I explained my upcoming treatment (and my extreme ignorance of and aversion to makeup). I wanted to be able to cover up blemishes if necessary, but I did NOT want to look too made up in the process. She said she would use a couple of brands that use more natural ingredients, and went off to collect supplies.

Her first attempt was a disaster (in my eyes, at least). I could see the makeup on my face, and I told her that. Part of the problem was that she was trying to give me something I would be able to use throughout the year – I won’t be as tan as I am now for long. The problem is, I start the new drug tomorrow. I want to be armed with something I can use now. So I got rid of my Casper the Friendly Ghost face and we started again. The second try was much better – I even let her do my eyes! An hour or so later, I walked out of Sephora with a bag full of supplies.

At first, I was super aware of the makeup. After an hour or so, however, I more or less forgot about it. After all, I more or less just looked like myself. Strangers on the street weren’t going to notice that there was anything unusual about me.


When I got home, I threw the bag on a pile of other things in my room and stopped thinking about it. Who knows – maybe those things will go unused, collect dust. But now I have an option, in case I am in the 89 percent of patients who get “rash or shedding of the outer layer of the skin.” Time will tell.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 3, 2012 10:09 pm

    At first I thought that middle picture was from an album cover! What a far out look. You look great, though! Sorry I’ve missed you in all the get-togethers with HJ recently.

  2. September 3, 2012 11:28 pm

    Thanks, BF! Hope to see you soon.

  3. September 4, 2012 5:03 am

    bonita!! eres genial!
    un beso enorme,
    alfonso&ro (y en pocos días, también de parte de elena ^^)

  4. deb herrmann permalink
    September 4, 2012 7:52 am

    You look like you! Well done(up).

  5. September 4, 2012 8:50 am

    I hope your skin falls off. I’m sure a castmember has tools for that.

    …Did I take that too far?

  6. milli permalink
    September 4, 2012 10:49 pm

    Yet another great story rachel! Keep ’em coming. I reckon someone will publish them one day 😉

  7. October 20, 2012 2:50 pm

    Painting your face is an art, another little way to be creative and kind of like wearing jewelry. Hopefully, the process, although probably aggravating and time consuming, will help your crafty side’s needs. I just want you to consider orange lipstick. I think it’d do wonders with your lovely blue eyes 😀

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