Sunday, 18 March 2007

"Intervention" published March 18

It wasn’t one of the best lunches we’ve ever had. Me, my three friends and the intervention. From the moment I sat down I knew something was up. The nervous looks across the table, the stilted conversation followed by the hastily whispered “do it now!” from one to the other, and the silence which followed.
She cleared her throat. “Umm first of all I just want to say that we all love you, and care for you so please don’t take anything I’m about to say as a criticism of your behaviour. We’ve asked you here today to help. To help you make the changes to your life that we feel need to be made…now.”
I didn’t know where to look. What on earth were they going on about? It can’t be my drinking because I’ve halved that in the last year. It can’t be my drug abuse, because I don’t do drugs. So it must be my weight. Maybe I’ve developed that thing that anorexics have where they look in the mirror and see a fat person, despite being thin only I’ve got it the other way around. I’m actually huge and in danger of being too big to squeeze through my front door, but all the time I look in the mirror and see a size 14.
“It’s your lipstick,” she finally spat out. “It’s got to go”
They all sighed with relief now that it was finally out. The latest hurdle in our foursome friendship had been leapt and now they could all relax safe in the knowledge that change was on its way.
It’s called Deeply Chilli and it’s made by Revlon. It was discontinued but I managed to get 10 of them when I was in Norfolk Island once. Before that it was called Raisin, again by Revlon.
I’ve worn red lipstick as long as I can remember which is sometime in the 80s and I’ve always thought it went well with my brown eyes and gave me an air of sophistication. More Paloma Picasso than Marilyn Munroe. More Katherine Hepburn than Jean Harlow. There’s just something about red lips which says strong.
But they say that the tragedy of the ageing woman is that we refuse to give up the look we had when we were in our prime. We continue to wear the same eye-shadow, shape our eyebrows the same way, die our hair the same colour and wear the same coloured lipstick. And what precisely is wrong with that?
One must follow trends, apparently, which since the millennium rolled over has been to look “natural”. Precisely what part of “natural” means wearing make-up? Surely the whole point of making up is to hide how we look naturally? Especially at my age.
At my intervention I was presented with something Revlon also make. It’s a gloss with sparkles in it and a little bit of foam on the end of a stick and it’s called Coffee Gleam.
I was instructed to wear it. I was to banish my Norfolk Island stash of Deeply Chilli to Women’s Refuge and even though it would be hard and there would be times when I felt a little naked, it would all turn out for the best.
I should have seen it coming. I’d been in the TVNZ make-up room a few times for my brief appearances on the telly and had been asked in subdued but incredulous tones if “that” was the colour I wanted on m lips. When I insisted it was they had to leave the room and fossick in a draw labelled “Angela D’Audney” before reluctantly brushing it on.
So I wore Coffee Gleam. Strands of hair got stuck in it in the wind and began to form dismal clumps of Coffee Gleam, my lips looked shiny for about a minute before I ate or drank it into my system and concerned people said I looked a little washed out.
Just yesterday I found an old Deeply Chilli lurking under the seat in my car. It was like finding a dear old friend and before I knew it we were reunited.
“Nice lipstick!” shouted my nine-year-old daughter who was herself wearing Scandalous Gold on her lips having raided her friend’s mothers’ make-up drawer.
“Are we going out somewhere very dark?” asked my husband, so unaccustomed to seeing the red part of my face formerly known as my lips.
I looked in the mirror and saw a woman I hadn’t seen for six months and felt much better.

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