“A smile is the best makeup a girl can wear.” Marilyn Monroe said that. I used to agree whole-heartedly and I smiled all the time, sans lipstick. As a young girl (and certified tomboy) I never really had an interest in makeup. I would rather use my first morning hours running barefoot after my brothers and chasing them up trees than primping before our bathroom mirror. I had four brothers and not the tidiest of dads-suffice it to say our bathrooms stunk anyways.
As an adult, I never had time for primping either, even with clean bathrooms, choosing to focus on the beauty in others and on my scholarly pursuits, of course. One such pursuit, writing, led me to a point where I came to realize that I needed makeup. I’d been invited to introduce my poem, “To the Audist,” at the unveiling ceremony of the 2016 edition of Pima Community College’s award winning magazine, SandScript. I was told to “dress up.” I had no clue what that meant. I researched images of “dresses at a book unveiling” and proceeded to be blinded by the absolute sparkle and glamour. Photo after photo of floor length gowns and high heels astounded me. So, off I went to Grandma to beg for help.
Grams and I hit up the thrift shops and at the second store, she proclaimed we had found the perfect dress. It WAS floor length… and it was plum. Plum. But okay. Once home, I immediately tried it on. With my hair pulled back starkly from my face into a low pony-tail and my bare feet drowning in the silky material of the gown, I stood in my (not stinky) bathroom, looking at myself in the mirror. I looked like a little girl playing dress up. The plum color made my skin seem pasty and my summer freckles stood out even worse than usual. I’m normally kind of shy and how the dress made me feel made it worse. I didn’t feel anything like those glamorous ladies in the pictures looked. I felt like I looked; that little girl playing dress up in her mother’s evening gown. I smiled at the thought and just knew I needed more help, so I appealed to the Facebook gods.
Luckily, a Facebook group was forgiving of my bumbling questions and a gorgeous lady in that group proved to be the answer to my problems. Deja, of Makeup By Deja Victoria, invited me to her studio in an absolutely stunning area of northern Tucson, and proceeded to spend a couple of hours completing the hair and makeup for my special night. She was friendly and professional, she explained everything she was doing. I received a lesson from waxing, shaping eyebrows, and in the application of everything from foundation to mascara. She curled my hair and put it up in this really complex half French twist with a pouf up top.
At the end of the appointment, I don’t think Ms. Monroe, herself, could have felt lovelier. I know that on any normal day, my smile really IS the best makeup I could wear. It doesn’t fade. It doesn’t wear out unless I let it. But you know what? I’ve always felt like I’m just me. I’m no gorgeous Marilyn Monroe with that thousand watt smile. That night needed to be special and it was. Tyra Banks said: “I love the confidence makeup gives me,” and it’s true. Deja Victoria’s work gave me the confidence to stand in the spotlights and under scrutiny to speak about a topic from my heart, without having to worry about how I looked. Under the spotlights, I smiled and I felt like if I wanted to be, with that makeup on, I could be a Marilyn Monroe too.