"Shall I tell you what the real evil is? To cringe to the things that are called evils, to surrender to them our freedom, in defiance of which we ought to face any suffering." ~ Lucius Annaeus Seneca
The pressure for women in our culture to be skinny, gorgeous, de-wrinkled, tight-bottomed, big-boobed, and balloon-lipped is an evil yet to be tackled. According to magazines, billboards, TV ads, and fashion gurus, every woman who isn't a Heidi Klum clone, or close to it, should wrap her body in cheesecloth and squeeze out the hideousness until all that's left is a plasticine replicant of her former self. Or if not that, then she should spend a month or two at a Female Restoration Institute until her shape, hair, skin, and lips are trim, voluminous, porcelain, and pouty respectively.
If a woman is anything less than magnificent, she’s an abomination, and she shouldn't leave the house. Until she can muster up enough time, energy, and dough to morph into the pinnacle of pure perfection, she should opt out of the social milieu entirely and grow moldy in the basement.
I admit to have fallen into the trap of spending big bucks on creams and lotions to debilitate wrinkles digging trenches around my eyes, mouth, neck, and brow. And I've even sat in the cosmetician's chair for the full make-over—colors and shades chosen specifically for my skin tones: light beige foundation, buff powder, three levels of smoky teal eye shadow, navy blue eye liner, thick, black, lash-lengthening mascara, light-brown eyebrow pencil, suntan bronzer, ruby blush, peach lipstick, and coral lip liner. The transformation was astounding. I looked exquisitely sullen and devious from the neck up—like Cat Woman in pedal pushers and sneakers.
"Now it's easy to apply these items, Ellie, real easy," the cosmetologist had said. "I'll draw a picture of your make-up routine and write out the steps of your skin preparations."
Using my unique color pallet, she painted over a sketch of a woman's profile so I would know exactly which colors to slather, smooth, spread, glop, or powder on and over the appropriate parts of my skin, eyes, lashes, brows, cheeks, and lips.
Then she wrote out the steps I should take prior the final make-up application. Scrubbing, sloughing, cleansing, reactivating, tightening, rehydrating, and moisturizing—each step requiring a specific lotion, mitten, bar, cream, gel, stone, astringent, paddle, cloth, or spray—each step "absolutely essential" to my beauty regime.
"And we have all of these items right here." She waved her hand down the shelves of skin care products.
Walking away without purchasing the items necessary to a Researched-based Years-Off-Your-Age Skin and Beauty Treatment is akin to wearing dirty underwear. Why a woman wouldn't take full advantage of a Personalized Beautification System was beyond understanding.
"Do you already have these items at home?" she asked, apparently astonished that I used such products considering the condition of my face.
"Similar," I said, thinking of my oatmeal soap and Cold Cream. "I probably have enough."
“What do you use to cleanse?”
“Ah, mild soap,” I said.
“Ooh, nooo! Never use soap on your face. That’s why your skin is so dry—and why those crow’s feet have a foothold there.” She tapped my temple, and then she pulled a bottle off the shelf. “Here—you must use this—Eau d' Savonette. It’s wonderful—especially for your skin type. It’ll take years off your face. You’ll notice a difference in less than a week.”
Three ounces. $55.50 . “How long does this last?” I asked.
“If used correctly, it should last you . . . I'd say . . . at least two months.”
$55.50 times six. $333 a year. $16,650 to wash my face for the rest of my life.
“And of course you’ll want this specially formulated, age-reducing moisturizer.” She reached for a small jar. “Even if you buy nothing else, you must use this—Le Crème de Hydratante Amande or the cleanser won’t work as well.” She opened the jar and breathed in the aroma. “Hmmmm, I love this stuff. It’s my favorite of all the scents. Isn’t it wonderful?” She stuck it under my nose. Almonds and vanilla.
“How much is that one?” I didn’t think I’d buy it, but I was curious. “And how long will that last?”
“This goes for . . ..” She turned it over. “Oh, guess what. It’s on sale! It usually sells for $95.00, but it’s on sale for . . . wow! $87.50.” She looked up. “I think the sale ends today—I can find out.” She put the jar on the counter and started off. “Oh. I forgot." She turned around. "That jar should last you, ah, if you use it without fail, day and night, about three months.” She walked off to check on the sale.
I recalculated. $87.50 times four. $350 for the first year, $17,500 for the rest of my life.
Altogether, I’d have to spend $34,150—until I was dead—if I wanted to take years off my face.
Might be worth it. They’ll look into my casket and say, “My, but doesn't she look young. Wonder what she used."