Monday, December 6, 2010

Getting glammed up for my romance career

I had a crappy morning last Sunday. Nothing soul-crushing or anything like that. Just one of those PMS-induced crying jags that left me looking like a severely beaten crack addict.

Always an excellent time to go out in public.

I wanted to cheer myself with some fancy moisturizer, so I wandered by the Clinique counter at Macy’s. The friendly clerk pounced at once.

“Can I help you?”

“Yes,” I said, wondering why someone who works at a cosmetic counter has to wear a lab coat. “Is this your only face cream with SPF in it?”

She cheerfully answered my questions while studying my puffy eyes and blotchy skin and probably wondering when I last washed my hair (something I’d admittedly been wondering myself).

“Tell me,” she said. “Have you ever tried wearing foundation?”

The implication was subtle, but it was there – darling, you look like hell.

At this point, I probably could have assured her that under normal circumstances, I look pretty presentable. Assuming I haven’t been doing the sobby PMS thing, I don’t ordinarily sport a shiny red nose and mascara rings under my eyes. While I don’t usually wear much makeup – a little mascara and some lipstick – it’s enough to keep me from frightening small children.

But saying all that would have led to a doubly awkward moment in which in which she felt compelled to console me for my sorrow while assuring me she wasn’t suggesting I looked like a homeless senior citizen.

It was easiest just to let her drag me to the makeup counter, seat me on a plush stool, and begin smearing my face with mineral powder. I was starting to enjoy myself when she asked what I do for a living.

“I’m a romance author,” I admitted, braced for one of the typical reactions I get from strangers – disdain, fascination, or the faint suspicion I’m a sexual deviant.

This woman was delighted. She had some very definite ideas about what my romance author career must be like. She whipped out a staggering array of cosmetic products, explaining to me what would look best on camera for my televised book tours and speaking engagements.

“When you meet Danielle Steele, you might want to consider doing something like this with eyeliner,” she said.

“OK,” I agreed, lacking the heart to tell her the odds of me meeting Danielle Steele are about the same as the odds I’ll ever be able to apply eyeliner without stabbing myself.

She covered me in eyeshadow and blush, eyeliner and lipgloss, even special concealer for my undereye circles. My face began to feel so weighted down I considered resting my head on the counter.

“I know it might seem like a lot if you’re not used to it,” she told me. “But it will look perfect on camera.”

She was absolutely right if I were auditioning for a role as a hooker in a TV drama.

I have to admit though, I like her glamorous notions of what a romance author’s life is like. Who am I to ruin the fantasy by telling her that instead of dashing between appearances on Oprah and Letterman, I spend most days sitting at my computer with unwashed hair and yoga pants? And who am I to admit that when I do sally forth from my writer cave, I generally look OK even without forty pounds of mascara?

But I didn’t say any of this. She was tremendously sweet and gave me tons of free samples and some pretty good makeup tips. I even bought an overpriced lipstick.

I also gave her my business card so she’d have all the details about my book releases. She studied the card for a long time, then looked at me.

“This is a really good picture of you.”

She sounded surprised about that.

It’s the same image I use everywhere, and while I’m wearing only a little mascara and lipstick, I don’t look half bad. Certainly better than I did when I’d walked up to her counter, and certainly no worse than I did wearing eight shades of eyeshadow.

But I thanked her politely and handed over my Visa.

By the time I walked out of the store, I was smiling again. Maybe it was the new lipstick or the pleasure of having someone fuss over me for an hour.

Or maybe it was the thought that while I’ll never be particularly glamorous, I’m pretty lucky to be happy with myself just the way I am.

Well, minus the wrinkles. But I hear Clinque has a really good cream for that.


Unknown said...

One of the reasons I never wear make-up is that I'm so disappointed with myself when it comes off!

I brought my sister and nephew to a photoshot the other week, where we were all fancied up for free. When I got to see the pics, I wanted to ask if they had replaced me with someone else, more gorgeous, me. My mother and sister seemed about to question the same but were polite enough to only say "oh, I didn't think you were photogenic at all".

All I can say, I hope the more gorgeous me came with the photo packet. I would like to dust her off every now and then, and take her out dancing.

Leona said...

I can so relate. I have been a recluse of sorts of late. My glasses have broken, which I need to drive and I have been out of thyroid meds (I have no thyroid, so major energy problem) and I am suffering from sleep deprivation.

I haven't spent much time looking at myself. My husband and I ran to walmart around 10 pm the other day. I had to use the restroom. When I went in the restroom around 1030, there was a young woman who was putting on make up from the ground up.

I kind of snorted to myself and shook my head once I was out of sight. When I came out, I went to wash my hands. Well, big fat mirror there.

I looked like Death Warmed Over's ugly stepsister. I came out of RR and told my husband He really loved me. He looks at me like I've all of the sudden grown two heads. So i told him what I thought of my looks and that I now had proof that he loved me.

Fast forward to Sat late afternoon. We are going to the show Sat night. I send him text saying I was going to sex myself up (in looks btw) cuz I no longer wished to go with the death warmed over look. It was too goth for my tastes :P he laughed and said cool, he guessed he would shave then...


Sarah W said...

I was complimented on my lipstick the other day by someone who said she wasn't used to me in makeup, but it looked very nice.

I wasn't wearing lipstick. I'd been outside shoveling snow the day before and my lips had chapped themselves a deep magenta. I will cop to a thick layer of clear lip balm . . .

Elisabeth Black said...

My husband looked at me while I was tweeting this morning, all unkempt, and said, "You look so urban and gorgeous." Yeah, that'll keep me warm all day. (I just got a new hair cut.)

You really are a naturally pretty pretty lady. I like your card.

Linda G. said...

Awww. Wish I'd been there. I would have taken you out for mimosas, and then we could have gone and tried on truly trashy clothes together. (This would have cheered you immensely, because they would look way better on you than on me. I would supply the comic relief.)

I hate makeup. Moisturizer, a brush of the bare mineral stuff to even out my skin tone, and some lipstick so I don't look sick (pale lips -- the curse of the blonde) is all I normally do. Maybe twice a year, for special occasions, I'll add some mascara, but usually I hide behind my "author glasses."

Matthew MacNish said...

As a studly dude I can't really relate, but I will say that are people in Oregon allowed to worry about their complexion? When I lived in Washington it seemed like a forgone conclusion that you would never get any sun. That's why the sparkly vampires moved there.

Anonymous said...

That's interesting, I never get that kind of reaction when I hang out near the cosmetics counter with red eyes and big dark circles. Maybe I should tell them I'm a romance writer?

Penelope said...

Oh, I love this post!! So funny. On a side note, I really think it does feel good to have someone fuss over you for an hour. Even if your mascara is four layers thick afterwards.

Claire Dawn said...

I don't wear makeup. Because of the effort I guess. Whenever I do (and dress up in like a skirt) mouths drop. I think I'm doing the world a favour, keeping it on-kilter and all :)

Laura Maylene said...

Ha. I bet, once she saw your photo, she thought you had tricked her into piling all that makeup onto your face.

Makeup kind of freaks me out in general. I usually wear none, and when I do put some on, its weight could be measured in grams, not pounds like this woman put on you. I don't even know if I could sit still while someone did that to my face!

Seeing your business card makes me think that photos on business cards must be a really good idea. How often do you meet new people at conferences, etc., and get their cards but later have no memory of who they are? I think I might feel weird handing people my face on a card, though. Clearly, I have issues.

Patty Blount said...

I LOVE the Clinique counter... I regularly get a group together for a field trip when they do a bonus gift promotion.

I'm opposite of you, Tawna. My hair is always clean and I always wear make up because I cannot stand myself otherwise. The exception is weekends, when I give both skin and hair a break from the ravishes of a week filled with potions, lotions, gels, mousse, shadows, liners, lipsticks, and hairspray.

But when I'm low, yes - having someone fuss over me is such a confidence boost. I hit the Clinique counter for a new eyeshadow. I love when the lab-coated techs gush about my huge brown eyes and teach me ways to emphasize them (while hopefully, de-emphasizing the huge Italian nose beneath them).

demery said...

Hope you're feeling better and that the PMS soon passes. I (ahem) hear it goes away faster when you alternate chocolate and salty treats - six or eight an hour. I'm sure wine boost the effect...

Amanda said...

They're always trying to push foundation on me, too. And, the $300.00 "dark circle eraser." Don't they know I prefer to go natural? That way, when special occasions occur and I do wear makeup (and shower) people fall to the ground at my radiance. Or, maybe it's because I have too much perfume on?

I love the Clinique woman's idea of what a Romance writer should look like.

Melissa Sarno said...

This morning I woke up and got really excited that I was going to wash my hair. It had been a few days...

I'm glad you got fussed over for a bit. Authors should be fussed over more and made to look very glamorous like movie stars (or at least like a movie star playing a hooker)

Unknown said...

LOVE this...though I can honestly say I have never left a make-up counter happier than I was when I arrived. Once I left with enough green eyeshadow and red lipstick to make me look like a regular in the Red Light District and every other time I get assailed by some 20 yr old trying to sell me wrinkle cream. This induces self flagellation so I avoid it..the drug store is the new make-up counter for me... :)

Colene Murphy said...

What a cute story!

And truly, you look incredibly gorgeous in your profile picture, without globs of makeup. Naturally beautiful is ALWAYS better than makeup beautiful.

Danica Avet said...

Great post, Tawna, as always!

When I spoke with family members this weekend, I mentioned I would need to take a *shudder* picture for my author's page. It goes without saying I'll have to get someone else to fix my hair, but I cannot let someone else do my make-up. I did it for my brother's wedding and felt like a hooker. I use make-up everyday for work, but I use powders, not liquid and having that liquid foundation on my face was awful. I can't do it. *shudders*

Tere Kirkland said...

Funny story! Love your cards.

I just got a hair-cut, and it was so chic looking when I stepped out of the salon, but I can't recreate that style myself without three hours and a third arm.

I've been feeling like I need a new look because I'm an agented writer now, but I'm not sure if this is the right one. ;)

Unknown said...

I'm sure we've all had one of those days and need something random and different as a pick-me-up (please don't go to the gutter! I said DON'T GO!! ... too late ...). I usually find that playing one of my musical instruments, climbing a tree, or fighting in karate help me, since I'm deffinitely not into the makeup business.

I love the stories you post up here. They never fail to remind me that everyone is human and everyone has their off days.

Now I'm off to put a giant circle around the month of August on the new calander I just bought ... :D

Laina said...

*shrug* I'm more of an elf girl, I like their prices. I like makeup, it makes me feel good and I can show off some of my personality in it. It's fun :)

I know how you feel, though, the week before last I was sick and I went out pale as a sheet, my lips so chapped and dry, with three cold sores on my top lip, my nose all red... not one of my best days :P And I had to sing, too...

Anonymous said...

LOVED this post! Especially where you say, "Or maybe it was the thought that while I’ll never be particularly glamorous, I’m pretty lucky to be happy with myself just the way I am."

Spot on. Thanks for this!

Kristy Colley said...

I really hope this lady kept your card, comes to your blog, and read this.

Dana Strotheide said...

Wait? So perfectly coiffed hair and Tammy-Faye Baker lashes aren't a requirement of romance writers? Man... I was totally wrong. :)
I almost always have a full face on. At the very least mascera and some powder... the curse of being blond is that I look like a drowned albino rat without any color on my face.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Too funny! Reminds me of when I turned forty. (more years ago than I care to remember) Anyway, a bunch of my friends pooled their money and treated me to an all-day make-over with the one and only Liz Claiborne. Let me tell ya, they gave me the works. Facial, massage, fancy make-up applied with a trowel, hair cut and style, manicure, pedicure, and I even let Ms. Liz talk me into letting her wax my "moustache" and under my eyebrows. (Never, never, EVER again!) The whole treatment even included lunch ... served with wine and a single red rose. Classy, huh? Here's the thing. They wanted to know what I was going to do that night to show off the new "glamorous" self. I smiled and informed them that we were going bowling. Not positive, but I'm pretty sure they thought I was making a joke. What can I say? It was our regular league night...


Abby Minard said...

God, I hate going out in public after I've cried. Or if I cry at ngiht right before I go to sleep I wake up with my eyes practically sealed shut. And then I drag myself into work and everyone's like, " you look tired." Okay, thanks for telling me I look like crap. So good for you for getting a makeover with tons of makeup you don't normally wear. It must feel good sometimes to have someone romanticise writing like that. I can't wait until I can tell someone I'm a YA fantasy author how they react. Twilight? Harry Potter? Um...something like that ;p

Unknown said...

This post was perfect. We need to believe we're glamorous, jet setting writers. How else would we survive the endless rejections and criticisms. I'm glad the Clinique girl made you happy. I think I could use a trip.


Malin, sounds like you and your more gorgeous self should go out on the town sometime!

Leona, so which you did your husband prefer? :)

Elisabeth, aw, thanks! Post pics of your sassy new haircut!

Linda G, funny, I have a future blog post in mind where I talk about how friends used to take me out and try slutty clothes on me just so they could laugh (picture me at 13 weighing about 85 pounds with approximately 40 of those pounds being boobs...yeah. It was freakish).

Matthew, I grew up on the rainy side of Oregon, but where I live now (in the high desert of Central Oregon) we boast 300 days of sunshine a year. It's cold and snowy as hell much of the time, bu you can get a nasty sunburn if you aren't careful.

Cubbageg, you would look lovely in this new lipstick I bought.

Penelope, it is kinda nice, isn't it? I love to have anyone brush my hair. That's my favorite.

Claire Dawn, you sound like a knockout :)

Laura, you're exactly right about why it's smart to put a photo on your card as an author anyway. Otherwise, who's going to remember you?

Patty, I kinda wonder if the makeup counter ladies ever get anyone up there and can't come up with a feature to compliment.

demery, yup, I'm feeling better now, thanks!

Amanda, I'm a fan of the natural look, too. Much easier!

Melissa, that's the great thing about longer hair -- you can go forever without washing it!

Charissa, I'm usually a drugstore girl myself, but it was fun to try all those expensive products.

Colene, awww...thanks. Here's that $20 I promised you for saying something nice.

Danica, I've never tried liquid foundation, but it just seems like so much work. And how do you keep it from rubbing off on everything?

Tere, I always wonder about that when people get a sassy new haircut. Is it ever possible to make it look the way it does in the salon?

Matthew AT Banning, hey, I just got a new calender as well. I hadn't thought to circle August, but that's a great idea!

Laina, what's an elf girl?

lynnrush, glad you liked it! :)

Kristy, LOL, that's exactly why I waited a week to blog about it. Not that I said anything bad, but I figure she's forgotten about me by now.

Dana, we also wear those little high-heeled slippers and feather boas.

Never2Late, that is HYSTERICAL! I hope you beat everyone at bowling.

Abby, I'm a hideous looking crier. Some people manage to do it and look pretty, but I just look red and snotty.

Jeannie, it was my first visit to the Clinique counter, but I may just have to do it again.

Thanks for reading, guys!


Patty Blount said...

Er. Thanks. :(

Laina said...

Eyes Lips Face: :)

Jan Markley said...

Sounds like you're ready for your close up. It's funny the impression people have of the life of a writer.

Leona said...


I think he was just happy that I set the ferret free that was living under my arm pits... :P

Plus, I get the Whoa BABY from people when I actually dress up and put make-up on. I have REALLY long eyelashes that are blonde on the ends (don't ask me why). When I put on mascara, it is shocking and my unusual, though not really rare, eyes are put into prominence.

I have a darker outer circle on eyes that change colors with my moods and sometimes with what I'm wearing...