Thursday, 12 August 2010

Bright-eyed and jammy-lipped: my first cosmetics

I made my first jammy-lipped foray into makeup with Avon's Little Blossom range, with its sugared almond packaging. It was a Christmas morning, and I'd just unwrapped all of my presents within the space of five minutes, in that haphazard, small mad-haired child tornado way, barely registering my parents' indulgent smiles.

Wide-eyed, I inspected my gifts of and silently cross-compared them with my big-girl red coat and big-girl watch with a frog on the face. Confirmation. I bore everything upstairs jealously and promptly hid everything in the attic so that I could consult my new 'collection' at my leisure and away from prying eyes. There was a reason for this childish hoarding: every Christmas, upon receiving my Advent Calendar full of chocolate, my dad would pretend-threaten to purloin it and eat all of the chocolate. I learned quickly and hid it behind my dresser every night and privately worried about a moustachioed fat man who wasn't Father Christmas slipping into my room in the depths of a dark night and stealing away with the precious calendar and its tasty contents.*

A moustachioed chocolate-thieving man identified as NOT Father Christmas.

So, hence the paranoid hiding of my newest favourite thing: a strawberry-tinted lip balm, a little bottle of perfume and a special sugared-pink peel-off nail polish from Tinkerbell. The lip balm smelled like strawberries and painted my lips a Riding-Hood red. I don't remember being especially particular about its placement on my lips; general vicinity of the mouth was fine. The perfume I'd splash on with aplomb; it didn't have a spray nozzle like the ones I'd seen my mother use, so at age 5, I successfully learned to just 'wing it'. The nail polish was the crowning glory, the one thing I guarded more jealously than all my gifts, leaving pink paint chippings all over the house, a non-toxic homage to Hansel and Gretel.

Obsession born, I'd later skulk about playing spectre to my mother's every movement, and waiting for her to become preoccupied by answering the phone or talking at the door, and then I'd launch a full-scale strike upon her meagre little stash hidden away in the bathroom. It was a calculated strike with every second accounted for in an every-girl-for-herself reconnaissance mission. The thing I coveted most was a palette from a high-street store,with unctuous, waxy-smelling lipsticks and a few eyeshadows, the most important of which was a pigeon-grey (because pigeons are darker in colour than doves, so that's what we're calling it), and it was selected because it was the darkest colour, and therefore, the best.

I'd daub it all on clumsily, occasionally stopping to powder my nose with a little powder puff like a grown-up, or launch a small-statured assault on a bottle of Clinique foundation at least 3 shades too dark and 2 years too old.

I'd always get caught and scamper happily back to my bedroom after having been told off in the most franglais style possible: my mother would utter 'Lá! La-la-la-la-la-la!' in an accusing rhythm whilst wagging a finger.

Don't let the innocent façade pull you in; that's the mistake my parents made (PS: Dog not mine!)

I can only assume it was her version of saying 'tsk', but for someone who grew up with the term of endearment 'puppet' as their mother couldn't pronounce 'poppet' properly (and that alone took me until I was 21 years old for that epiphany to happen), I can only go by what my mildly-trained ear tells me.**

I think it was always my mother's indifference to makeup and her refusal to let me have ALL OF HERS which was the problem. I argued with her relentlessly in a supermarket, aged 6, when she wouldn't buy me an obnoxious pink nail polish. There may have been feet-stamping. There may also have been a minor tantrum. I got it in the end and bore it home proudly, despite my father's unadulterated horror and refusal to let me eat dinner until I'd cleaned it off again.

And that was that; absence only makes the heart grow fonder, after all.

When I was a little girl, I believed that uttering arbitrary syllables meant I was 'speaking French' and that my dad's Adam's apple was actually a walnut (so he told me) that he'd accidentally swallowed whole. I believed, on a fateful trip to Scotland, that a plastic model of the Loch Ness Monster floating in a pond was the real thing and genuinely believed that when I grew up, I'd become a princess, despite the logistics of my parents not actually being of royal blood. When all those silly childhood fantasies faded away a little, I was left with one remaining: that even if nothing else were true, my mum should definitely have let me play with her makeup a little more.

It was only rude not to; she'd already unknowingly created a monster.

How did you all first get hooked?

An excellent demonstration of the more impressionistic route in makeup application (of a 6 year old child).

* Other strange behaviours I exhibited as a child included hiding my toast crusts in the drawer under the table: having been informed at an early age that eating my crusts would give me curly hair, I took a strong dislike to them and hid them rather than eat them. It's a shame really, considering I now spend so much time trying to get my hair to curl even the slightest bit. We're not here to talk about my idiosyncrasies, but I could tell you were all curious...

** Other words my mother still can't say after 35 years in England: squirrel (which she says 'scure-rel'), crisps ('crips') and farce ('fast'). Invariably these days, my mother will also call out the cat's name when she means mine, so it's not like her idiosyncrasies have waned over the years...


  1. Oh wow! I loved this post! You really made me smile!

  2. My first memory of make up is me grabbing a bright pink and a red lipstick, and scrawling all over my face! Not exactly sure how old I was, maybe three or four. According to my Mother, it stained my skin for about a week! xx

  3. Well my first memory was my mom's make up too!
    When she and my dad went out almost every Friday night it was me and the makeup (and my brother, but yaaaa, who cares about him :p ) in the house...
    And sometimes when she came back it was the makeup on me, my teddy bears and the walls (my bro's work).
    Also la means no in Egyptian!So your mom may have it right by accident :p
    Lovely post!

  4. I loved this post too. I've been discretely chuckling away to myself through out and awwh for the cute photos(not saying you are no longer cute any more)!

  5. Cami this post was amazing! really enjoyed reading it! You should be some sort of journalist! xxx

  6. So gorgeous!! What a cutie.
    I had exactly the same style haircut when I was younger too. The chin length bob with the fringe. Maybe it was the late 80's style for young hipsters like ourselves?

  7. Hi hun, I tagged you in my latest post

  8. @mizzworthy I'm glad you liked it! I loved writing it :)

    @missmascara1983 Hahaha, I used to do that! My older brother did as well, strangely... there's a picture of him emerging from my mum's room with his best friend - both of them in oversized wellies and covered in lipstick! xx

    @Ria I think it's just a compulsion for small kids to explore stuff they shouldn't. Interesting fact about the Egyptian, I will let her know :D xx

  9. @L.F Haha, that's exactly what you're saying... I'm no longer cute, sob...

    @scouselovesmakeup Glad you enjoyed, miss :) I'd love to be a journalist, but unfortunately it's a dying art now :( xxx

    @pepperandbaxter ... or it was for our 80's hipster parents ;)

  10. I remember this little girl!
    I also remember 'crips' haha!
    Love you Bamilla ;)

    Emmie xxxxxxxxxxx

  11. My first memory of makeup was from ballet recitals. I'd always been a tomboy (and still am to this day, despite being a "grown" woman of 22), and spent my free time climbing trees, playing basketball, and trying to be just like my big brother.

    At some point, however, I'd become enamored with the idea of being a real-life balerina. After a great deal of pleading, my dad enrolled me in classes at the age of 5. I fell in love, and would dutifully prance off to ballet practice three nights a week.

    Every spring we would hold a recital in the city convention center. I spent the morning of every performance perched daintilly on the edge of my parents' bathroom sink as my stepmother applied my stage makeup (Ruby red lipstick, dark eyeshadows, copious amounts of blush, and layer after layer of mascara). Talk about feeling like a princess! I stuck with ballet for the next twelve years until I went off to college. My interests have changed, my schedule has filled, and ballet is now just a fond memory. Makeup, however, is forever.


I respond to all of your lovely comments, so be sure to check back or subscribe to email follow-ups, particularly if you've asked me a question!


Related Posts with Thumbnails