the power of words

I was a bridesmaid in my first Jewish wedding on Long Island in November. On a Friday morning, I took the bus from Dupont Circle to Penn Station and then I hopped on the Long Island Rail Road to Ronkonkoma. When I emerged, A.’s mom picked me up and drove me to a salon to get a manicure and pedicure, and suddenly I was in a whole new world where the women smacking chewing gum said things like “Can I git ya a kwa-fee” and “You look gwor-gess.” Those may be the overused examples, but I heard them, and often.

It turned into a weekend of pampering. A. had scheduled hair stylists and cosmetologists to come to her suite in the Holiday Inn at 9 a.m. (the wedding was at 6 p.m.) to blow out our hair and paint makeup on the five bridesmaids, mothers, grandmothers and flower girls.

I sat in the high chair in front of a fit pretty 40-something woman in a white tank top and short blond bob who wanted to cake my face with foundation, blush and eye shadow. I asked her to make me look natural, and she said, biting her lip, “I really want to make your eyes pop.”

We talked about how my skin under my eyes needs to be more hydrated (I conceded) and then we talked about eyebrows. She asked me if I had ever had them waxed, and I said, “No…I prefer to be natural.” (She did not make me look natural…)

She said, “Yeah, you were a jock right. You got the Brooke Shields natural look going.”

Now, she probably didn’t mean it as a direct insult, but I took it as an underhanded cut. Let’s face it, no matter how pretty she may be, Brooke Shields has dark bushy unattractive eyebrows (or at least she used to and I knew exactly what this woman meant). And here I am, two months later, still thinking about Brooke Shields in the morning when I’m putting on my makeup. That doesn’t mean I’ll start waxing, in fact it makes me never want to in order to make a point. I’ll continue to pluck the old-fashioned way.

But my experience speaks to the power of words, and how some people may not realize the lasting impact they can have (in some cases they do and that’s the point). I stand by my contention that natural is more beautiful. I just hope I don’t think about Brooke Shields every morning the rest of my life.


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One response to “the power of words

  1. L.

    In high school, my male friend commented that a girl in our class, who was mean and overweight and wore a purple dress to the prom, looked like a grape.
    Twenty years later, being overweight myself, I still don’t wear purple dresses/suits/ensembles.

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