Me in the ninth grade
Since I am now in the throes of raising a teenage daughter, I often reflect on the time when I myself was thirteen. I wonder if my daughter had met my thirteen year old self, would we have been friends? No way to know for sure.
I was a kid of the eighties, growing up in small town Alabama. Aggressively permed hair, full metal band braces and pimples were a part of my everyday life.
My mother wouldn’t allow me to wear makeup until I was thirteen. I saw other girls at school walking around with made up faces though. So to me it was the forbidden fruit. To say that I always adhered to my mother’s no makeup policy would be untrue. Sometimes I rebelled and broke into her stash after she left for work.
The problem was I always forgot to remove the purple eyeshadow before I got off the bus. Mom busted me every time. Having a daughter now, I completely understand. Why would you cover flawless, porcelain skin with anything? It is very unnecessary. But alas, I remember just how fun it was.
I also implemented a no makeup until age thirteen rule. Because I turned out pretty okay. It was perfectly fine with my daughter. She was never one to stress about her appearance. I often had to beg her to wear something other than sweatshirts and leggings to family outings. Which resulted in her wearing sweatshirts and leggings.
So imagine my surprise when my daughter became an expert in all things cosmetics at age thirteen. But wait. Let us go back.
Thirteen year old Tonja depended on her mother for makeup. Best I remember I got a tube of cheap mascara which was expected to last for several months. I had one color of blush, a couple of shades of subtle eyeshadow. Oh and a tube of Baby Lips lip gloss, which was all the rage back then. And SUPER cheap. All of my cosmetics came from the makeup section of Walmart. Or maybe Dollar General. Who knows.
I continued to wear makeup from discount retailers all through my twenties and thirties. If something isn’t broken then why fix it? My favorite eyeliner is still Revlon Color Stay, shade brown. Then beauty box subscriptions became a thing. They opened my eyes to a lot of makeup lines that I never knew existed. But also maybe it was the fact that I entered my forties. The subtle changes in my skin warranted shopping around for any product that could salvage my youth.
I thought I had really stepped up my makeup game. But then one day my daughter walked downstairs wearing highlighter that I had given her from one of my beauty boxes. Because I thought highlighters came in neon orange, pink and yellow. And were used to accent writing, not the face.
As she walked past me, I told her that I thought she had forgotten to blend part of her makeup. I gently took my finger and smoothed the patch of too bright makeup that was on her upper cheekbones. Then she went to look in the mirror and turned to run upstairs saying that I had ruined her ENTIRE face.
Clearly I had much to learn.
What I didn’t know was that my daughter not only understood highlighters, but also contour sponges and foundation brushes and bronzers. Mainly because one of her favorite things to do was sit around and watch makeup tutorials on YouTube. The only make up tutorials that I got was watching my mother sit at the kitchen table with her wet hair still wrapped in a towel, staring into a tri-fold mirror, as she applied her mascara. I did learn that mascara is best applied when you let your mouth hang open. So there is that.
It is not only true that kids learn from their parents but parents also learn from their kids. My daughter opened my eyes to a whole new world. A world that was a little more girly and kinda fun. Makeup was not just for hiding flaws. It can be fun and used to accent the good things.
Give my daughter an Ulta or Sephora gift card and she is in her element. So when the time came for me to buy a new tube of concealer, instead of heading to the drug store, I made a trip to Ulta. The store can be a little intimidating for novices like myself but the great thing is there are tons of knowledgeable sales associates waiting to help.
I was instantly approached by a young girl asking how she could help. I told her that I needed a new under eye concealer. She asked me if I needed full coverage, light coverage or sheer coverage. It must have been the lost in headlights look on my face which prompted her to ask more questions. She then took me to the Urban Decay section of the store and showed me a waterproof, full-coverage product that could last for up to 24 hours. No need to reapply.
Do I need 24 hours of concealer coverage for my tired Mom eyes? Absolutely not. But judging from the alarmingly bright concealer and yellow eyeshadow that the sales associate was wearing, I figured she knew stuff. So I bought it. And I actually love not having to reapply. Thank you Ulta.
And thank you to my beautiful daughter. Thank you for teaching me things that I didn’t even know that I wanted to know.