Each week our no-holds-barred beauty blogger Grace Gold picks apart a hot topic beauty story. It’s our version of an op-ed…with lipstick, laser treatments and eyeliner.
In the black and white films of the 1920s, glamorous stars routinely slipped away from the table to “take a powder”—their Fred Leighton diamonds leading the way. In fact, ladies rooms with mirrored spaces and elegant decor became known as “powder rooms” for the perpetual beauty rituals that went on behind closed doors.
Today’s grooming practices are far less discreet. Women no longer emerge gracefully from the powder room, their lips and cheeks freshly rouged, and noses powdered matte. Now we often see—whether we want to or not—the entire process take place in public.
When I was a daily commuter, I would watch in fascination as women applied a full face of makeup on the crowded train, my stomach knotting at the thought of what would happen if we suddenly lurched; or worse, an elbow went astray while someone was mid-mascara.
While I often blot, lipstick and conceal in public, I can’t help but think of my junior high lunch aide, “Mrs. M” (as she had us call her) when I’m tempted to primp and preen. Mrs. M once silenced the 5th grade lunchroom by snarling in my direction, “That’s disgusting!” as my hand froze with my hot pink travel brush mid stroke, and everyone turned to stare. During my 10 minute detention that followed, Mrs. M explained that brushing your hair at the lunch table could cause hair to fall into and contaminate people’s food. ("Didn't your mother ever teach you that?") The truth is, I had no idea. I was just trying to make my hair look soft and wispy like 90210's Kelly Taylor.
On xoJane, Julie Schott showed a woman in a Connecticut train station curling a full head of hair while sitting on the lobby floor. The comments on the post made me wonder: Do we draw the line at a lip touch-ups, and take anything further to a private space? Or is today’s woman just too busy to care, and entitled to a refresher wherever she can steal one?
I’m tempted to give the time-pressed a pass—though I can’t deny there’s something so regal and classy about that Old Hollywood screen siren who emerges from the powder room in all her glory, with an aura of mystery trailing behind.
What do you think? Do you primp in public?