Flammables to the Face

(photo credit: scientificamerican.com)

My haul at Ulta this week included a red, attention-grabbing bottle of “Big Sexy Hair”-brand mousse and a shade of eye shadow called “Sex Kitten.” I placed these items on the counter so that the cashier, Kaitlyn, could scan them.

“Do you have an Ulta card?” Kaitlyn asked.

“I don’t.”

I babysat for lots of infants named “Kaitlyn” as a teenager. They are part of the workforce now.

“Would you like to apply for one?” she asked. “It’s free? You’ll get coupons by email?”

I told her no, thank you. I watched her flip over the little tub of eye shadow. “Sex kitten.” She was just looking for the bar code, probably. Still, the urge to defend myself was strong. Listen Kaitlyn: I’m not laboring under the delusion that I’m a sex kitten or anything.

My morning routine is getting more involved everyday. In college it was just a blow dryer and a little mascara. Lip gloss for special occasions. Now I use the business end of a safety pin to separate mascara-clumped eyelashes. I use both hot rollers and a flat iron on my hair. I use a strip of scotch tape to remove the arrant particles of eyeshadow that have landed on my cheeks, and I spritz hairspray on my face – my FACE – to set my make-up once it has been applied.

I acknowledge that sharp objects and flammable liquids seem more fitting for a voodoo doll’s face than for my own, but here we are. (The saddest part of the whole thing is not how much trouble it is for me to get ready, but the finished product: more of a “friendly mom next door” look than “sex kitten.”)

You, like me, may feel frustrated by the ever-widening gap between the way you see yourself in your mind’s eye and the way see yourself in the bathroom mirror. Is there anything to be done about this feeling of discontentment? Turns out there is. Stop looking in the mirror quite so much.

There is a world of ailing bodies we could help with our strong backs. A world of lonely people we could comfort with our time and companionship. Poor whom we could assist with the loose change in our pockets. These people don’t care that the skin beneath our chin is beginning to sag or that our hair is thinning. When we occupy ourselves by serving, we won’t care, either.

My friend Kyle taught a great Sunday school lesson this morning about the self-imposed prison of selfishness. It’s the truth, isn’t it? Don’t we ultimately feel awful when we spend our time obsessing over ourselves? Conversely, aren’t we our happiest, our most liberated, when we are doing for others? Reflect on the times you’ve been generous and giving. Didn’t you walk away feeling like the beneficiary?

I am not sure how I managed to get so blind to the needs around me. Too many flammables to the face, I suppose.

It is so fleeting, the time we have to be pretty. We have our whole lives, though, we have countless opportunities, to do something beautiful.


11 Comments on “Flammables to the Face

  1. Ah, you sex kitten you…..don’t you ever wonder how that phrase came about? Note that I am too lazy to Google it right now, but the thought of those sharp claws immediately cause me to go into ‘turtle mode’ (Seinfeld). This was a nice post and it’s so true. Coincidentally….yesterday I braved the cold weather on my motorcycle for the post office. It’s a way of keeping the machine running well. On my way back, I turned into the Safeway parking lot and in the driveway there was a woman pushing her bike and pulling a cart – definitely a homeless person I’d not seen before in that area (there are some regulars I see around and give dollars to). I passed her and parked. I had just shelled out $5 at the post office and was thinking that this woman could use one too. So I walked to the back of the store where it looked like she was looking for a place to hide from the wind or possibly bed for the night. I kinda’ surprised her as she didn’t hear me coming and before she could get into a defensive mode I asked her – are you homeless? And I had a $5 holding out in my hand. She looked just like me or you and what is worse is she didn’t sound ‘homeless crazy’ or like a ‘drunk’. She was very grateful and on the verge of tears so as not to embarrass her I told her it’s ok and a lot of people are struggling right now. She thanked me and as I was walking away I just thought to myself, she needs this other $45 in my pocket a lot worse than I do. So I turned around after walking almost to the end of the building and started walking back towards her. I told her – you caught me in a generous mood, here’s everything in my pocket, it’s yours. She started crying and told me that she didn’t like asking for help. I hugged her and she hugged back. I asked her to try to stay warm and gave her a reassuring few more words and then I left. I’m really bad about that and I need to not carry money in my pocket. 🙂 I once pushed a shopping cart of food over to a small family begging for change last year around Thanksgiving. And you’re right – I feel best about myself after doing things like that and it reinforces for me that I should keep doing it. Perhaps it’s the same reason you wrote your post? I look for coincidences constantly…..worth considering….Ginger Ciao for now

  2. So true! I spend way too much time lamenting my weight and skin changes, etc. But, does the hairspray to the face work? 😉 My makeup is mostly gone by the end of the work day.

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