Monday, January 22, 2007

Hope springs eternal

So, I had lunch with two colleagues on Saturday, and after a very satisfying bit of catching up over soup and crusty bread, we decided to pop in to the Ulta shop across the parking lot from our restaurant.

I can't post photos of my friends without their permission, but they are both very attractive women - physically, and personality-wise. One is in her late 20s, the other in her late 30s. I, in my mid-40s, am considerably less attractive, but reasonably well-turned-out. All three of us have master's degrees, and one of my friends is a month away from defending her doctoral dissertation, so we're not exactly slouches, intellectually. I give these details to assure the reader that, between the three of us, we have quite a bit "going on". Yet, the moment we walked into Ulta, we underwent a transformation. No longer self-assured and happy with our lot in life, we became Hopeful.

By some alchemy of the fragrant atmosphere and glittering mirrors, we lost the critical faculty that allows us to discern the inflated claims of cosmetics marketers. We wanted to believe that our chemically stressed hair could be "transformed from the inside out"; that our winter-dry lips could be "plumped to a level of lusciousness most women only dream about". We soberly consulted over whether our undereye circles were sufficiently dark to justify a $95 corrective treatment.

When one friend, whose wavy, long blonde hair is her crowning glory, picked up a $200 straightening iron, it was like a dash of cold water in the face of a sleepwalker. I looked her straight in her Maybellined eyes and said, "No. Not just no, but Hell No." Then all three of us glanced sheepishly at the collection we had amassed in our shopping basket - at least $300 worth of makeup - and one by one began to put things back.

And it was hard! We had become like magpies in our acquisitiveness - each glistering tube, each tiny compact, so damn cute it almost hurt - how could we pass these up?

I ended up with a Smashbox tinted moisturizer and one pot of eyeshadow. One friend bought a couple bottles of nailpolish. The other made a bigger splash - we didn't succeed in talking her out of the straightening iron - but she vowed this was her last Ulta visit for the year.

As I dabbed on my new moisturizer this morning, I thought about my friends. I wondered whether they felt prettier today, and if it would make a difference in their relationships and interactions with others?


Blogger Brian said...

This makes me think of articles I read recently about several cosmetics ads, all including celebrity faces, which were banned in the UK - not for indecency, as with the Dakota Fanning Lola ad, but for dishonesty. The products - fronted by heavily airbrushed Julia Roberts and Rachel Weisz - promised younger skin, if memory serves, or just general overall miraculous improvement. Not just a better you but a thirty years ago you. It fascinates me that the UK has this kind of commission, and this kind of regulation, in advertising.

10:10 AM  

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