There has been a major focus on health lately with Vogue's new health initiative and the Olympics just around the corner. I've long had an interest in all things health, body and beauty related. My first taste of beauty in book form came with Marie Claire's Hair and Make-up book. It was the late nineties to early norties, I was teenage-bound and completely taken with the possibilities that make-up and maintenance afforded. The transformation process fascinated me.
I guess all little girls have similar memories of their first experience of beauty and what being a woman was all about watching their mothers get ready to go out. There wasn't anything more exciting than witnessing the preparations for a special occasion, step by step. I remember the steam from the shower would pour out of the bathroom and mix with the room temperature air and I'd watch her wrap up her hair in a towel so it sat twisted on top. She'd be walking around in a fluster and I'd follow her feet, darting between rooms. The chosen outfits were laid out on the bed and in need of last minute editing.
With shaved legs, exfoliated, cleansed and moisturised skin, the make-up drawer would stay open as she'd dig around trying to find specific products. Applying the base with her fingers, it was sealed with a dusting of loose powder, she'd stand with her face close to the mirror, swiftly drawing her eye-liner on with a crayon. Adding two layers of black mascara with her mouth and eyes held widely open. She would look down at me, smile knowingly and continue. The eye-shadow was minimal usually just to define the lid. The blush came next, sweeping and generous, using her hands to make it more natural afterwards. Lip liner, she told me, was very important because it meant you could then just fill in the lines with lipstick. And voilà all done, or at least the make-up was.
My mother would then get dressed so it wouldn't ruin her hair later. Sitting on the bed, her best adviser, I would give my opinion and make sure she looked good. And finally the blow dryer came out with a rounded brush and hair spray to set, followed by perfume for the wrists and neck. When all the preparations were done I'd follow her downstairs, taking note of the sound of her high heels on the floor.
I would love to get my hands on Vogue's body and beauty book '77 and Scavullo on Beauty '76. Reading how past generations of women maintained and enhanced their health and looks is such an insight. Scavullo suggests 'Beauty must begin with self-confidence that builds up to an attitude of total self-respect...it's not letting any of your strengths go to waste. It's getting in touch with the positive power within you and using it to create a sense of yourself that allows you to care for yourself and others in the most affirmative way...'
The Beauty Investigator