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COLUMN: Making-up an excuse to omit Christmas list items

The other day my daughter was reading off her Christmas list.

"My own room, my own laptop..." it began. I think she likes to start me off with a laugh to get me in a good mood. Either that, or she is perpetually optimistic.

Further down the list, she gets a bit more realistic. "Cute tops" confuses me though - does she really trust me to pick out "cute" tops for her? I do everyone a favor and skip that item.

When I see "makeup" on the list, it gets a bit more involved. She goes into such exacting details that I'm shocked she doesn't include the UPC codes and PowerPoint presentations.

This is where I launch into my "you don't need makeup to be beautiful" speech.

As anyone who has ever known me would attest, I have never been a fashion plate. In fact, I find it a bit cumbersome to keep up on the latest styles, makeup tips and hairdos -- although I did cave in a few years ago and gave up my late-1980s perm ritual.

I've known some women who are perfectly comfortable simply running a brush through their hair, washing their faces clean and tucking in their shirts for the day. I've always envied them. They look so carefree and comfortable in their confidence.

I, on the other hand, can't quite pull it off.

Oh I've left the house with the ponytail I slept in and no makeup on. But those had only been times when my kids missed the bus and I was caught in my pajamas. The only saving grace was that I knew I wouldn't have to get out of the car. It didn't matter if it was overcast: I still threw on my sunglasses to hide my non-eyelinered eyes.

I think I remembered going out in my sleep pants and T-shirt sans makeup one other time, but that was on the way to the hospital at 3 a.m. to deliver a baby. At that point, I really didn't care what I looked like.

What this boils down to is this: I am a hypocrite.

I tell my daughters that they don't need makeup to be pretty, yet I refuse to walk into a store when I don't have my eyeliner on.

I tell my kids that they don't need new clothes to look cool, but I was completely embarrassed when I discovered the pants I had gotten at a thrift store had a hole in a most unbecoming place.

I tell my daughters that they need to be grateful for the full head of hair that they have, but I have spent hundreds of dollars in my lifetime trying to alter mine to make it more manageable.

I knew I'd hit rock bottom the other day when I was forced to leave the house earlier than I planned (kids missed the bus again). I threw my sunglasses on and my eyeliner in my purse so I could apply it in the car before I went into the office.

As I sat in my freezing vehicle outside work, I pulled down the vanity mirror and opened the eyeliner pencil lid.

To my horror, the crayon broke off and fell onto the floor!

It was like watching it in slow motion as it fell onto the car mat, mixing with all the melting snow and sand.


For a brief second I thought I could dust it off and smear it on my eyelids, but I knew it was useless. Besides, I tried it and there wasn't enough left.

So there I was: I couldn't go buy more because I couldn't walk into the store without makeup on, but I REALLY couldn't go into work without makeup on either.

Luckily I had a spare pencil at home.

It's not that I think I turn into an Elizabeth Taylor beauty with the makeup, but I have to admit it does make me feel more confident to look people in the eye. I suppose I shouldn't begrudge my daughters that if they use it simply to highlight their features -- not hide them.

On the other hand, I'm not going to push them. My youngest is not interested in catering to current fashion or makeup. She is perfectly comfortable in blue jeans and T-shirts, a hairbrush and no makeup.

One weekend when I had just woken up, washed my face and put a ponytail in, she put her face close to mine. I looked at her creamy complexion, almond-shaped blue eyes and blond hair framing her heart-shaped face -- so pure and innocent. She said "Mommy, you look pretty today."

Aww. I wonder if she has a laptop on her Christmas list.