Monday, February 22, 2010

The Power of Make-Up

Tonight I pampered 33 of the absolutely most beautiful women I've ever seen. Unfortunately, you'll never see them on the catwalk, gracing the pages of fashion magazines, or larger than life in all their celluloid fabulousness.

These women all live at Clearbrook and all have some form of developmental disabilities. Tonight was a special spa night for them. Clearbrook treated them to a dinner of sub sandwiches and then they had their nails, hair, and make-up done. I did the make-up.

Some of the women couldn't wait to see what was in my bags; others were shy and timid.

As I began to set up, a woman named Rochelle walked up, sat down, and proceeded to quiz me. What's your name? Where do you live? Is it nice? Where do you work? What is your religion? What church do you go to? Are you married? How old are your kids? Do you have a cat? What kind? What's his name? Immediately, I was put at ease.

A few minutes later the first group of women walked in and I suddenly got nervous. I teach women how to apply and wear make-up all the time, but they all have advanced motor skills and know something about make-up. For many of these women, this was their first experience with make-up . . . ever.

Immediately, they asked if I was going to do their make-up for them. I don't ever do anyone's make-up. What makes Mary Kay unique is that we teach women how to do it themselves rather than doing it for them, but I was momentarily re-thinking whether this was the right move with these women. Exuding confidence I didn't really have, I told them I was going to teach them how to do their make-up. Some weren't sure they could, but I assured them it would all be all right. The more I said it, the more I believed it.

By the end of the evening and with only one mascara mistake that we quickly corrected, almost 33 women had been pampered, taught a new skill, and had smiles on their faces the size of Texas. They told me about their boyfriends and couldn't wait to show them their new looks. They ooh'd and ahh'd over each other and giggled about lipstick application. Some of them told me about their jobs and helped each other when I didn't have enough hands or couldn't answer all the questions at once. They all had a new confidence about applying and wearing make-up themselves.

After everyone finished, the ladies all clapped for each other, thanked me profusely, and went on to their next stop - hair or nails. I thought I was done and had begun cleaning up, when one last woman walked in alone with one of the staff members. She said she changed her mind and wanted to try some make-up, after all. She had been unsure before because people told her she didn't look good with make-up, but she wanted to try. Without hesistation, I pulled the make-up back out and told her she was the luckiest woman of the evening because we got to work one-on-one and she'd get the most attention. Ten minutes later, her eyes were beaming with pride and we couldn't get the mirror out of her hand. She not only looked beautiful, but she had done it herself, as they all had, and she was overflowing with pride.

As we were finishing, another woman walked back in and wrapped her arms around me to say thank you.

I honestly don't know who was more affected tonight, me or the beautiful women of Clearbrook. They learned a new skill, gained confidence, and were reminded they are beautiful. I re-learned the power of making a woman feel good about herself; that no matter who we are, whether we have disabilities, or are fully able-bodied, and no matter what our skill level, we all want to feel like the most beautiful woman in the world. I fell in love with my job all over again.

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