It’s not material obsession that keeps me busy as all hell; it’s basic survival. One of these jobs is utter immersion in makeup, skin and hair care. Is being a person preoccupied with "beauty" vain? Well, if giving a shit about yourself makes you vain, then consider me the contributing editor of vanity... oh wait!
The truth is sometimes I just want to talk about my feelings, of which I have many, without having to segway it into a product or technique. And I'm gonna do that RIGHT MEOW.
Out of basic respect that the skeletons in my closet don’t deserve, I won’t get overly specific, but mental illness and alcoholism have left a deep imprint in my family and my psyche, and I fight to keep those demons in their stupid box every day. This sometimes leaves me with stress and anxiety that carries over in my day-to-day life, and aside from seeing a therapist (I need to get on that), I’m always looking for ways to take care of myself and stop worrying about people and things I cannot change.
To those who, like me, tread lightly so as to not follow in our father’s footsteps, I salute you. To those who struggle, the rest of us are here to help you get up, even when we are feeling shitty ourselves. Just know that actions have fallout for your family and friends, and when you hurt yourself, you are deeply hurting others, too. You get used to the pain, only to sometimes have it knock you on your ass a few days later.
To keep the predatory negativity from creeping into my life more than is absolutely necessary, I used to binge drink/smoke/party/exercise and repeat. That was fun and all, but the wrong night would find me sobbing into my hands as the sun rose, crying about someone who I really don’t even know all that well. Breakdowns, whether momentary or for a few months, just don’t do anyone any damned good. Momentary is really the key word in all of this. I have to learn to let myself feel pain for a moment, even a long moment, and move on with my life.
Nowadays, I skip the bingeing mostly, but I have yet to pick up the workout/yoga ball that I dropped when transitioning my career. Beauty has filled that void, and I have to say, taking my sweet time to apply a whole bunch of makeup feels as good as running on a stupid elliptical for 45 minutes. Do I need to work out more? Yes, but for health’s sake because I kind of like my too-many-late-night-grilled-cheeses booty, but good posture and a kinda flat tummy are thing you can’t get from such habits.
I’ll probably hit the yoga mat again now that I’m writing about it and publicly shaming myself into being at least a little active again. Pedestrianism and all of the stairs I climb have probably saved me from accelerated sitting problems, but going from a job on your feet to a job on your butt can sure change things if you don’t do the bare minimum.
Though there will be no Clinique products in this piece, Clinique was the catalyst for this piece, as I read over their findings from a recent study they did into what makes women happy, straight from their mouths. I considered their answers along with what I know from my own life, and the numbers are interesting: 77% of women surveyed in 18 countries are "happy" with their lives. In Mexico this was 90%; 87% Mexican women also said that they felt beautiful, which means maybe I need to move there because everyone is sexy and happy. It's proof that being happy with yourself, your life and your looks is fulfilling and can be done.
Americans are on the low end; only 57% of women surveyed considered themselves beautiful. It likely has a lot to do with America’s really warped beauty standards. Can beauty make you happy if you aren’t happy with where you started? Probably not, but if you are learning to give yourself a break, putting on expensive foundation can be a joy and not a chore.
To combat my madness, I've been turning to beauty. I do those looks that require 16 products but look "natural," I follow daily and weekly beauty routines to the letter. I am surely overdoing it. But do I care? No. I think the only thing I have to worry about is punctuality when it comes to that. Being well oiled, well strobed and adorned with perfect brows and lipstick have helped me crawl out of TONS of ruts. I will straight up put on lipstick like Steve Buscemi and lean back in my reading chair just trying to deal sometimes, and it works.
I also have started reading up on techniques to chill when the rage is swelling up inside of me, as it is wont to do when people are being slow walkers or smashing their baby carriages into me or cutting me in line at the bodega.
The book One Moment Meditation is the type of thing being taught in seminars and to whole companies and organizations, and I can see why. I’m in the middle of the book and so far have calmed myself out of the red zone more than three times this week. This is a method of very brief stillness, a moment you take for yourself that isn’t steeped in physicality or spirituality. With this brief moment (around a minute or three if you count prep and after), I think I can make a change. I’m certainly working on it. As someone who is neither still nor calm, it can be hard, but I'm going to do my best to give myself a shot at SERENITY NOW!
I want to know how you make yourselves happy when you’re about to go Deb from Empire Records. Do you turn to exercise, food, drugs, sex, booze, makeup, dancing, the spa or some combination of these? Any tips for my fellow lost daughters out there who have to shoulder the pain of addiction and illness?
Photos: Maria Penaloza