Making Up.

The summer I was twelve, my mother bought me my first makeup. A four-pannier of eyeshadow from Maybelline, there were two pinks and two blues. (It was 1986.) There was also a tube of lip gloss that looked just like pink lipstick, only there was no colour, it just added a bit of shine. I can still remember how it tasted and smelled, the plasticky texture gliding over my lips. To this day I am not very good about lip products. Most of them just feel strange.

I will never really know what prompted my mother to give me these things. Was it kindness, seeing her geeky daughter and knowing she’d be slaughtered in high school, seeking to give her some protective camoflage? Was she genuinely excited about my emerging adolescence? I don’t know. And why did she buy me makeup without my knowledge or being there? It seems kind of clandestine, to simply bring home some war paint and give it to me.

For the record, I was delighted. I never did much with the blue eyeshadow, but experimented much with the pink. At first, I was hesitant, and would glide a mere whisper over my eyelids. In time, studying beauty magazines, I figured out where to place the stuff for maximum effectiveness. Of course, putting pink above one’s eyes makes one look like there’s been a long-term crying jag in the works. But, still. I played.

It was one of the last kind things my mother did for me before she woke up that day and couldn’t move her arm. A slipped disk. Which turned into degenerative spine disease and arthritis and all kinds of other things. Which shaped my adolescence and twenties.

But I think of that makeup sometimes. I like to think that she was excited for her daughter, on the brink of adolescence, and wanted to give me a taste of being grown up.Wanted to share something of what it meant to her to be a woman.

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