Food + Wine

Call Me Superficial but…

I’ve been growing my hair out since I gave birth to my daughter.  It was all going pretty well for awhile until I looked at myself in the mirror for the first time the other day and realized how crappy it looked.  I had just been styling it so quickly before I left the house over the last several months (OK, so I sometimes styled it…), and always felt that it looked fine.  Then I went to get my drivers license photo taken.  When I got my license in the mail, I almost passed out.  (And I thought I looked good that day!!)  I didn’t even recognize that girl in the picture.  She looked like the band mother of A Flock of Seagulls.  It was bad.  Even my husband told me I should go get the picture retaken.  So that day I decided I would have cute hair again.

I cut my own hair, and have since college, so it’s not like I just didn’t have the time to make an appointment for the past 7 months.  I just simply didn’t have the time.  Period.  So that night I cut it and made it cute again.  That made me feel better for a couple of days but then I felt yucky again.  (This also could have had something to do with the fact that I hadn’t sweat in 4 days, no matter how fast I ran or how deep I squatted, so I was incredibly puffy.  I was retaining so much water I could have started my own lake.)  So while my husband was on his way home from work the other day I asked him to pick me up a box of hair dye.  Before I got pregnant with my daughter, I had very short hair that I would dye very blonde.  My whole family has naturally blonde hair but I just wanted it to be really blonde so I would dye it.  Then I stopped once I became pregnant.  And since I wasn’t spending as much time out in the sun as I used to, my hair had become pretty dull-looking.  I knew that making it super blonde again would be the key to my superficial happiness.

So after we tucked in the kids that night, I went in the bathroom to dye my hair.  I also wanted to go for another jog that evening in hopes to break a sweat.  I figured I would put the dye in my hair, and while I was waiting the 45 minutes for it to set in, instead of just sitting and wasting time, I would go run.  I put the dye in, put on my shower cap and went to go get dressed in my running clothes.  Now, when I run at night, I make sure to not look cute.  I make sure to look as masculine as possible so no perverts want anything to do with me.  This all stems from a place where I have always been paranoid that somebody, somewhere, is always watching me.  I don’t know where it came from, maybe it’s because I spent the better part of my adolescence on a stage, but it’s the truth.  So when I night-jog, I wear baggy clothes so no curves are detected, I wear baseball caps, sometimes I even grunt when I run. (Yes, I am aware of how crazy that sounds.)

As I was getting dressed in my baggy shirt and even baggier pants, my very smart husband brought up a very good point.  He reminded me that if I did, in fact, break a sweat, the sweat would cause all the hair dye on my head to come streaming down my face and into my eyes.  (That’s why I married him, folks.)  So my brilliant idea was to place a sweat band on my forehead to catch potential sweat and voila!- problem solved.  Only, it’s not 1984 and I don’t have a sweat band.  I did, however have a white sash.  So I wrapped that sash tightly around my forehead, over the shower cap and stood up to walk downstairs.  When I saw the look on my husband’s face, I swear I thought he was considering divorce.  Then he just broke out in hysterical laughter.  I went back into the bathroom to see what was so funny, then I realized I may have never, in my entire life, looked so ridiculous.  We both were laughing so hard I thought we may wake up the kids.

Then we started laughing even harder at how when I first told him I was going for a run, he was so concerned about me and told me which route to take because of the better street lights, he asked if I had pepper spray, told me what color to wear, etc.  I was even going to bring my cell phone just in case.  But now, I kinda looked like Ralph Macchio’s stalker.  And smelled like ammonia.  I was walking pepper spray.

My poor husband, he thought he’d never have to see this girl again.

My jog was uneventful.   No sweat happened, but there was also no need to lift up the shower cap in order to scare off an attacker.
Days later, my hair looks good for the first time in 7 months, I feel better, and my jog yesterday resulted in a very nice sweat.


I, like many stay at home moms, spend the hours of the day taking care of kids, and worrying about those kids, dressing them, undressing them, bathing them, making sure they brush their teeth, eat right, etc. and very rarely pay any attention to myself.  I actually feel guilty when I do pay attention to my appearance.  I feel like that time I took to put on mascara or fix my hair would have been better spent playing with the kids or cleaning something.  But I gotta say that after this whole hair incident, I feel a little like my old self again.  Looking better made me happier.  And being happier made my kids and husband happier.  So I no longer feel like I’m being selfish when I put on a little make-up just to clean the house, or put on clothes without an elastic waist band just to take the kids for a walk.

So in lieu of a recipe this week I have decided to give some tips on how to make yourself look better in a very small amount of time.  Because, I have perfected the quick-get ready.  I’ve spent all my life doing my own make-up (on and off the stage), and my own hair.  And once upon a time, my husband and I used to run a photography business.  He was the photographer and I was the make-up artist and most of our clients were actors.  So I know a thing or two about cosmetics.
Here are just a few quick tips-

*Unless you have major blemishes on your face, mascara, lip gloss and a bit of bronzer on your cheeks are all you need to look pulled together in a short amount of time.  And I swear by black mascara instead of brown.  But for daytime, you can go with black on top and brown on the bottom lashes.

*Never underestimate the power of store-bought tanning lotions.  Jergens makes a great product called ‘Natural Glow Express’ that gives you a gradual tan on your face and body.  Use it as a moisturizer and lotion in the off-season and I promise you will look better without looking orange.

*If you have normal-oily skin and have blackheads, my mother and I swear by Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque.  It’s incredibly cheap and you can find it at most drugstores.  It pulls that gunk right out!

*Never wear shimmer powder on your face when you’re going to get your photo taken, the shimmer comes across as greasy under a camera flash.

*A white eye pencil or light concealer pencil on the inner rim of the eye can make you look like you actually slept last night.

*Do not waste your money on dry shampoo.  All it is is powder in a can.  Use baby powder on your roots to absorb the oil on those days you didn’t have the time to wash your hair.  It gives you an instant root boost.  A little goes a long way, you don’t want to look like George Washington.  (When I had red hair, I used to mix the baby powder with a bronzer so it better matched my hair color.)

*If you’re a natural blonde and your hair is not currently dyed and you just want a quick highlight, my mother and I use Sun-In, even during the winter.  Spray it on wet hair around the face-framing strands and then blow-dry to set if you’re not out in the sun.

*If you want your lips to appear fuller, trace along the center of your top lip line (the cupids bow) with a shimmer pencil (an eye pencil works great) and blend in slightly.  A small amount of gloss in the center of your lower lip helps make them appear fuller as well.

*If you’re getting your photo taken at the DMV, always put on more eyeliner and lipstick than you think you need.  Fluorescent lights take away half your make-up.

*Always keep a stash of make-up in your bag and/or car.

*And lastly, don’t feel foolish putting it on!  Remember, you will ALWAYS feel better after you do it.

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  • Reply Sebia Cooks October 15, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Abbey, you're such a good writer and funny! Thanks for making my day!

  • Reply Everyday Champagne October 20, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Ah! Fooled another one!!
    No seriously, thanks Sebia- that's incredibly sweet of you to say.

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