I never had that Kodak moment where Mom stumbles into her bedroom to find 4-year-old me with red lipstick smeared across my mouth, drowning in swathes of silk and strands of pearls, toddler feet wobbling in heels about 10 sizes too big. Actually, I never knew that this was supposed to be a normal thing; in fact, it wasn’t until I buried my nose in novels that I realized I was the oddball who skipped out on what seemed to be every little girl’s rite of passage.
Apparently there are a lot of women who will forever fondly recall that time when she dipped four pudgy fingers into her mother’s most prized tub of anti-aging night cream.
I never had that moment. Nor do I have any recollection of my mother twisting up a fresh tube of lipstick, much less owning one. The sheer concept of having medicine cabinets stocked with skin care and beauty goodies fascinated me – I only ever remember finding holographic Band-Aids in mine. Bathroom countertops at my friends’ houses were overrun by lotions and potions, whereas mine were sparsely decorated with minimalism in mind: soap, toothbrushes, and toothpaste. And generic lip balm! Sadly, not the cherry one, just the original black tube. (Why does it even matter, my mom had asked when I pleaded she buy the magenta tube instead. Don’t they do the same thing?)
But before I completely discredit my mother, I’ll give her this much: she did have the swathes of silk and strands of pearls, just no makeup, no magical tubs of potions and lotions, no high heels. What she lacked in product knowledge and overall beauty know-how, my mother more than made up by showering me with Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, and feminism.
It was at my insistence, when I was 16, that she try something called an exfoliant, proudly explaining the importance of a regular scrub (in hindsight, an Alpha Hydroxy Acid based cleanser would have been the better choice, but hey – #startedfromthebottom). And it wasn’t until she was 48 that she tried her hand at an actual skincare regimen.
… all thanks to me. I take full credit for introducing Mama to her first anti-aging product. (If you’re reading this, Mom, you’re welcome.)
Her first so happened to be my favorite: the amazing Vitamin C Serum.
“What is this?” she asked, blank-faced.
I pointed to the label on the green glass vial; she squinted. I sighed, told her (for the umpteenth time) that she needed bifocals, and that this little green glass vial was the Vitamin C Serum.
“What’s a serum?”
A week later and she was noticeably glow-ier, and having never thought mature skin could look this revitalized, began gently pressing for more recommendations of things to try. She was amazed at what a little something extra could do for her complexion, now brighter, smoother, more even in tone. You can only imagine my pride when I walked in on her, in my bathroom, layering eye creams and serums and masks. Now this – this – was an Instagram-worthy moment. (Kodak was so ‘90s.)
Fast forward a few years. She’s currently 51, still sans bifocals, but well-equipped with a skincare kit carefully curated by yours truly. She gave me everything I have now; the least I could do was repay her in some kind, show her a little something new, prove to her that beauty could be had at any age, and yes, of course she deserves to pamper herself.
I suppose it all comes in full circle. Like mother like daughter. And like daughter, like mother.
. . .
Let me live vicariously through you — what’s your very first beauty memory?