So I’m a late bloomer. First pedi? Probably 33 (maaybe earlier, but only because I was in a wedding). First eyebrow wax? Mmm…34 or so. First pair of shoes that are not black, brown, or tan? Around 36. First massage? Last year.
I just never really learned about fashion or the fun pampering, self-care things that are out there. My mom was never into that stuff, and I stand by that being a very cool thing about her. But as a result I was kinda behind the curve. A few middle school friends taught me how to wear makeup at a slumber party once. That lasted a year or so. By the time I went to college I was fully embracing baggy jeans, Umbros and Birkenstocks. Even Birkenstocks with socks ladies and gents. I kinda ran with the “You don’t have to care how you look just cuz you’re a girl…beauty is within blahblahblah” mentality.
Fast forward to DC. I had improved, slightly. No more Umbros. Definitely no socks with sandals. Even threw out my baggy jeans and cut down on my T-Shirt collection. I started spending time with other single women. (Prior to DC I had been in Pittsburgh. Love that town, but not too many single peeps and I was doing campus ministry for an organization that, though awesome, was a little on the granola side and not too fashion-forward.) And I started realizing that taking care of how I look might be a good thing. I started wearing heels, painting my toenails, and buying clothes that fit. And it felt kind of good. But I still had a ways to go.
Then I met Jenny*. Jenny was just out of college and moved in with me and my two other roommates. She was a breath of fresh air for our stale, mid-30s “I’m getting older” mentalities. She coordinated her clothes and always looked awesome and sharp and put together. She knew how to wear makeup. She also made amazing ginger cookies.
We all wanted to be like Jenny. I mean, who wouldn’t?
Jenny, looking awesome as usual.
One of Jenny’s favorite shows was TLC’s What Not To Wear. For those of you not familiar, in WNTW Clinton Kelly and Stacey London ambush people whose friends have nominated them for a style-makeover. Clinton is gay, so it is ok for he and Stacey to hold hands occasionally. But I still think it’s awkward.
I started watching WNTW with Jenny and pretended that I too was simply laughing at “those people” with terrible, awful wardrobes while secretly I was taking mental notes for myself. Hmmm, maybe I should get rid of that boxy, mint-green sweater I’ve had for five years. Ohhhh, that’s how you say Empire waist! Huh…so blue shoes are a “neutral”…amazing! Fortunately for me the show was syndicated and we had TiVo. So there was much wisdom to be gained on a Monday night after a long day at work.
One part of the show that I love is when this woman Carmindy does a makeover for the participant. She is super nice and tells people they have beautiful eyes or cheekbones or whatever. Then she makes them look awesome in about five minutes. And she swears they can make themselves look awesome in the same amount of time.
Doesn’t Carmindy look like such a nice person?
So one day I worked up the courage to ask Jenny (who, if you will remember, knows how to wear makeup), “Jenny, will you be my Carmindy?” I asked in a kind of silly sing-songy voice in case she looked at me funny and I could just be like “HA! Just kidding! I know how to wear makeup, just gotta go to the store and get some!” But of course Jenny was happy to be my Carmindy and we did a little makeup session. One of my roommates took some video footage and Jenny took a before and after picture. If I recall correctly, there was a lot of giggling. Then Jenny and I took a field trip to Sephora and Target and I bought my very own makeup. It was SO much fun. The makeup tutorial I never had in junior or senior high, finally happening. At 36.
So now I wear makeup almost every day. And I try to dress well. In fact, a few years ago, probably shortly after my little session with Jenny, I resolved to never go anywhere looking less than
my best pretty good. Those of you who know me well know that I fall down on the job from time to time. Well, often. But I try. I still have a hard time trusting that anything can go with a neutral. And I have to restrain the urge to only wear colors that match, rather than embrace the idea that they simply have to compliment one another (whatever that means). I’ll admit it, I’ve looked up color wheels online. I’m not perfect, people.
But if you’ve got a Jenny in your life…you know, someone who just knows how to do something you never learned — someone who could help you with something you’re embarrassed to admit you’re terrible at. Work up the courage. Ask them to be your Carmindy (maybe in a sing-songy voice, just in case). You won’t regret it.
*Jenny also has a blog and I think her post from a few days ago is hilarious. And of course, she even has a style section!