Saturday, February 2, 2013

Nothing tacky about natural beauty


It’s odd how treehouse guests not only share a bit of themselves when they visit but also act as mirrors for H and me. Each time we have a new guest, we see our view of Mt. Abe in a new light. I look around at H’s beautiful handcrafted lamps as if for the first time. Instead of taking our surroundings for granted, I feel the peacefulness of the forest around us.
            Our last treehouse guest, Kimberly, is a makeup artist and has done makeup for stars and models like Naomi Campbell. Since she moved from Florida to Massachusetts, Kimberly’s main clients are brides and bridal parties, prom dates and once in a while a birthday party for thirteen-year-olds.
            The evening Kimberly arrived with her handsome boyfriend Phil, I wasn’t wearing makeup. Usually I’ll brush on some mascara, but I feel overdressed in blush and lipstick here in the wilderness. I’m lucky if I get my hair combed. Kimberly’s makeup was perfectly applied—understated and classy. She was stunning, in fact. Even her hair looked as if she’d laid out a fortune to have it cut and styled.
            But there was no sense of competition between us. The trick of Kimberly’s trade, she says, is to make the client feel good about herself—not to feel overshadowed by the artist. She could have said to me, “Just let me fix you up a bit.” Instead, she said, “You don’t need makeup—you have natural beauty.” I loved her immediately.
            Before they went out to dinner, I gave Kimberly a glass of wine and let her wind out some stories about makeup. One bride wanted heavy eye makeup with rhinestones glued to her lashes. Kimberly tried to convince her that not only would such affectation look tacky and unnatural, but she’d have trouble blinking. The bride was adamant about the rhinestones. Kimberly applied the glittering fake diamonds. The bride blinked. Her eyes watered. She asked Kimberly to get the rhinestones off her lashes—immediately. Kimberly smiled, removed the gems and managed not to say “I told you so.”
            Boyfriend Phil is a stonemason, which keeps him in good shape. Kimberly keeps her slim figure by going to the gym every morning and working out with a trainer. She pulled out her phone and showed me photos of herself in some of her fitness competitions. First of all, let me say that Kimberly is in her early fifties, ten years younger than I am, but when you see her in a bikini, you’d never believe her age. She’s all muscle—all definition, as they say. Two percent body fat when she’s working it. Her skin is tan sprayed a golden bronze color. She looks amazing.
            The competition involves flexing, posing, and doing a dance number choreographed with help from her trainer. Kimberly was competing in the over forty category.
            “Did you win?” I asked.
            “I came in second,” she said.
            “Who came in first?” I expected it would be someone younger but she said, “A woman your age.”
I gulped. I swore off French fries. I scheduled a gym workout.
Before they left, I asked Kimberly about eyelashes. Mine have thinned since I’ve gotten older. She recommended Colossal by Maybelline. I went right out and bought two tubes of the mascara. My lashes now are long and thick. Thanks, Kimberly.
As for the rest of me—well, that’s going to take some time.

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