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Who’s That Girl?
May 27th, 2010 by Christina

I try to steer clear of whining about the physical decline inherent in midlife, because it’s so cliche.

Me, formerly flawless and well-lit.

But I recently experienced a moment of reckoning in a fitting room at Lord & Taylor, where I was all alone with fluorescent lighting and a three-way mirror. There was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. My 46-year-old self stared back at me in all directions. Who knew I had a little pouchy chin thing, plus the beginnings of the weirdness that happens to one’s neck–not to mention less-than-taut upper arms? Not me. Until then.

I walked out of L&T dazed and confused, and without having purchased anything. (I might have bought something had the lighting been less brutal. Seriously–has no one done market research and found that women will buy things if the dressing rooms are designed to flatter, not to appall??)

In my disoriented, highly vulnerable state, I wandered into one of the three Sephora stores near my office. (There seems to be a 1:1 ratio of Sephora to Starbucks stores lately.)

I’ve worn makeup since I was in junior high school, back when my skin was a creamy, smooth blank slate, open to subtle enhancement via a bottle of Maybelline Kissing Potion roll-on lip gloss and a streak of eyeliner inside the lower lids (remember that technique, gals my age?) A spritz of Love’s Baby Soft and I was good to go.

Now, at my advanced age, enhancement is the least of it. Correction is what it’s about, and Sephora is all over that, with displays devoted to wrinkle fillers, concealers, and the newest word in corrective makeup: Primers. These are all designed to bring your face back to a flaw-free baseline so that it can receive the more frivolous embellishments like eyeshadow and lipstick.

It seemed exciting at first, to think I could erase all my facial flaws simply by purchasing a few tubes and jars, but I soon experienced what I call the orange-juice dilemma, which goes like this: When I was a girl there was one kind of orange juice. From concentrate, period. Now, you can choose from OJ with some pulp, no pulp, a little pulp, tons of pulp, with calcium, without acid, with other kinds of juices, etc. Should you want no pulp, yet tons of calcium, or a little pulp with a soupcon of pineapple juice, you are screwed. It is truly panic-inducing (or is it just me?) and I often find it easier to go without OJ than be forced to prioritize like that.

With the face-fixers, it’s the same thing. Sure, you can have a perfect face, if you can decide which flaw to prioritize. Wrinkles? Redness? Age spots? Crepey eyelids? Dark circles? Shrinking lips? Acne scars? Oily skin? Dry skin? No skin? No one product seems to do it all, yet the time and money commitment involved in covering even a few bases seems mind-boggling.

I decided to start small, with a concealer that has two components. The first one “neutralizes” discoloration and the second layer does, um… something else. I forgot what, exactly, but I know it works because it cost $28, not including the special brush, which was only half that price.

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The Designer Divorce
May 17th, 2010 by Christina

Anytime you become a member of one of life’s many clubs, you’re introduced to new terminology. When you’re planning a wedding, you start tossing around terms like registry and flatware. Parenthood brings forth birth plan and lactation consultant. In the divorce zone, the lingo includes custody, mediator, and spousal support (that last one sounds like an uncomfortable device you might have to learn to live with after an operation, doesn’t it?)

Well, I was thinking recently about some of these terms and how one might want to customize them to suit one’s particular needs. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Joint Custody of Unpleasant Things. It’s easy enough to divvy up the days of the week and alternate important holidays with your spouse-turned-co-parent, but doing it that way is so random and risky. Either one of you could end up unwillingly accompanying one of your children to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese, or amusing them on a snow day, based solely on whose day it happens to be. Instead, I like the idea of a more personalized approach to custody. For example: I take the kids when they have fevers or respiratory ailments, but R gets anything involving a malfunctioning digestive system. R would probably prefer not to be on-duty for either girl’s first period—so, fine, I’ll take that along with bra shopping if he agrees to field any questions about the male reproductive system. You get the idea.
  • Mediator/Couple’s Therapist Who Admits She Likes You Better. Recently, a few of my pals who’ve done couple’s therapy shared a few tales. One guy said he probably would have stayed in his marriage if their therapist had just admitted that his wife was, indeed, wrong about one specific thing. We all totally got that. While the attempted neutrality of marital professionals is admirable, who are they kidding? They’re human, after all. In any triangle situation, someone’s the odd man or woman out even if he or she doesn’t know it. I, for one, could tell early on that our therapist knew which one of us was right about absolutely everything, and it’s so clear that our mediator feels the same way. Thank goodness I know how to interpret those subtle winks and facial gestures.

I wanted to come up with a third thing in this vein, but I couldn’t. So it’s your turn. What’s your personal fantasy twist on the customs of separation and divorce?

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