Friday, May 20, 2011

About Face

My grandson Aiden, the cutest kid in the universe (that was until his brother and cousin made their appearance a year ago) is going through that awkward stage.  His teeth are falling out and are being replaced by his adult set.  His face is changing from that cute, pudgy kid to a freckle-faced boy. 

 He has the best wavy hair, yet, he insists his mother buzz-cut it. 

When I look at him I am reminded of my own awkward childhood phases and remind myself that we all go through the ugly duck to swan stage. 

Some of us transform naturally and some need a little help along the way.  For me, I’m grateful for my peers, Susan Dey, and a beauty book whose title eludes me but I recall fondly as being my bible when I was a kid. 

I really didn’t have anyone to turn to when it came to asking the questions a preteen kid needed answers to.  My grandmother was old school and she didn’t believe in imparting wisdom on issues pertaining to vanity.  Here are a few examples of what I mean:

During the 1970s, the era when feminism burst into our collective consciousnesses and the media, television commercials just started advertising for women’s products.  I recall seeing one and saying to my grandmother, “What’s a tampon?”  Her face blanched and she burst out, “Those are only for married women.  And, don’t ever ask me that again!”  I didn’t understand what the big deal was but I understood her warning loud and clear.

When I told my grandmother I wanted to shave my legs like all my friends were doing, she told me it was nonsense.  To illustrate her point she lifted her skirt to show me her own legs.  “See!” she exclaimed.  “I never shaved my legs and now I haven’t got any hair on them at all.”  She failed to explain that at her age the hairs on her legs had just naturally worn off. 

I begged my grandmother to let me pierce my ears.  It took lots and lots of convincing but she finally relented.  I had them done at the Eastern Hills Mall at Transit Town in Clarence, which was a whole lot safer and less painful then when I’d let my girlfriends ice my ears and use a safety pin, a method I had tried without my grandmother’s consent.  And when I begged for contact lenses I had to pull out all the teenage angst I could muster before she agreed.  I had become a cheerleader in my sophomore year of high school and I would have rather died than wear glasses out on the floor.  Trouble was I couldn’t see a thing without them. 

I am so grateful that my grandmother acquiesced to my requests even if she didn’t agree or understand them. 

What does Susan Dey, the actress who played Laurie on The Partridge Family television show have to do with any of this?  She wrote a book, an autobiography I guess and the one thing I recall she said was how she kept her lips looking red like cherries.  She bit them.  She also said she pinched her cheeks to make them nice and pink.  It was another book I must have gotten out of the school library that was also a huge help in my quest to find the pretty in me.  It was a book on beauty.  The name is completely lost to me but it shared all sorts of advice on how to wash and style your hair, apply makeup, and dress.  I think I checked that book out for the whole school year and read it countless times. 

Lastly, it was my peers that I looked to when it came to being up-to-date with things like fashion.  To this day I am no fashion maven; I go for what’s comfortable and try to maintain my own style, but in high school I would copy the way my friends put their clothes together and try to emulate them.  In our house and with my grandmother’s frugal countenance, there wasn’t a lot of money for shopping sprees.  But, I managed to make a lot of outfits out of a few and got by well enough. 

I’m pretty sure Aiden, whose all boy, could care less about his looks and how to dress, at least at this stage of his life.  As for me, I’m still learning from books, magazines, and my friends.  It’s sometimes hit and miss, but generally I manage to get it right. 

1 comment:

Donna B said...

I was a tom boy and did not develop into womanhood until 18... I had crushes on movie star men, putting their pictures on my walls from the movie magazines. I admired Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Hayley Mills, Patty Duke, Sandra Dee, Connie Stevens, Sally Fields, Bridgette Bardow, and Tuesday Weld....