Good As It Gets

A Four Alarm Make-Up Disaster Story

Show me a woman who is happy with her looks, and I’ll show you a woman who thinks denial?badaboom!?is a river in Egypt.

The cosmetic-industrial complex
It’s true though. We are always seeking the secret formula that will unmask our “hidden” beauty. Each year women spend thousands of hard-earned dollars on cosmetics, hair products, tummy smoothers and fanny shapers. Maybe our eyebrows aren’t shaped right, or we’re wearing the wrong shade of lipstick. Maybe if we didn’t have that darned bump on our nose, or have one front tooth bigger than the other, we too could be as striking as the models that grace magazine covers.

And I’m as guilty as my sisters. Is this as good as it gets, I often wonder? Never mind that God gave me a perfectly fine face that is, while not drop-dead gorgeous, certainly passable. It’s a face that hasn’t scared any children or soured any milk lately. And it works just fine.

Oh, but in my heart I know I have the potential to be drop-dead gorgeous if only someone?Bobbi Brown, Estee Lauder, David Copperfield?will guide me. Show me the light and the truth and the way. Keep me from the screw-ups that mask the beauty buried deep within.

Make me gorgeous
That’s why I recently treated myself to an exclusive session with a professional make-up artist. Money was no object. Just make me beautiful!

There I sat in Eduardo’s private salon. He stepped back and studied me with one eyebrow cocked. He looked worried.

“Your freckles.” He finally said, frowning. “Freckles aren’t in this year. They must be covered.” And my eyebrows, already thick and dark, had a few sparse spots. “We’ll fill those in,” he said.

Whatever you say.

“Green eyes are tricky,” he told me. “They get washed out with eyeliner and mascara.”

Green? My eyes are hazel. No, he insisted. They’re green. “Skip the eye makeup,” he said.

My under-eye circles presented a special challenge. Eduardo applied cover-up, stepped back, frowned, and applied some more, painting, stroking, and applying, contouring, contrasting, blending, hiding. Oh, he was busy, my expensive artist. He never let me watch as he went along. He wanted to surprise me.

And indeed he did.

Fright night
When I left his salon two hours later, I was penniless and stunned, raked, caked, and baked with a mug like Joan Friggin’ Crawford. Thickened black eyebrows. No eye makeup. An alabaster face with a Nike-symbol swoosh of blush across each cheek. Full lips carefully penciled in to create a thinner illusion.

“Thin lips are in this year,” he said.

Perhaps I looked great, but was too out of the fashion loop to know this. I smiled at myself in the elevator mirror and felt the layers of foundation crack.

When I met my friends for dinner, their jaws hit the floor. And not in a good way. That night, the only man who paid me the least bit of attention was our gay waiter. “He probably thinks you’re in drag,” my friend Pam snorted.

The original artist
That night I gave my face a thorough washing, relieved to find the old me buried underneath the layers of make-up. Slowly my freckles, full lips, and hazel eyes reappeared, suddenly a welcome sight. I studied myself in the mirror and thought, this is as good as it gets. But that’s okay.

Because this face reflects the work of the original make-up artist. I realize now that’s good enough for me.