Fashionista, Part 1


Genetic engineering is in the news again. I say, bring it on.

When they passed out the genes that give women a sense of style, skill with a curling iron, artistry with the paint pots, I drew blanks. Genetic engineering might be the answer.

A church committee chairperson called and invited me to participate in a church fashion show. I agreed, thinking I might give other glamour-challenged women hope.

Besides, I thought my pastor/hero and role model would be a good sport and say yes too. Ha. They didn’t even ask her, in respect for her dignity. I guess I don’t have much of that either.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve never enjoyed primping and powdering, clothes-shopping and hairdos. The reason I’m sure this is a genetic deficiency is that my Mom was the same. We shared genes for fine straight hair and lack of style.

“You’re so nice and tall,” Mom always said of me. Her 5-foot-2 saw my 5-foot-6 as elegant, and she thought I looked swell no matter what I wore.

She also said, “What’s wrong with the dress you have?” a lot. And”Why do you need another one? You can only wear one at a time.” So I never had much chance to develop my under-endowed femininity.

In retrospect, I’m beginning to think my denominational sisters invited me in a well-intentioned demonstration of pity. A charity case, as it were.

I said yes, assuming I had committed to one hour, one evening, a month away.

Again, ha.

Jody: Sallie, could you come over Tuesday so I can work out your makeup?

Sallie: My what? (My idea of serious cosmetology is to scrub a mascara brush across my lashes and to grind a lipstick against one lip, then mash both lips together.)

J: Your makeup. Wendy and Joanne are coming too, and I’ll help you. It’ll be fun.

Around Jody’s kitchen table we models-elect sat looking at little compartmentalized trays containing what appeared to be several colors of caulking compound. Jody was asking me what kind of cleanser and moisturizer I use. I didn’t know what she was talking about. So while the others dipped confidently into the dabs of caulk, Jody personally took me in hand.

The green stuff hardened on my face, a blessing actually, because it prevented my features from registering the terror I felt. But true to Jody’s word, it wiped off with a wet cloth, and the application that followed was pleasantly tingly.

“What color group are you?” she asked next, holding up a chart of paint chips.

“What do you mean, what color group?” I snorted. “It’s pretty obvious I’m doughy-white with mouse-brown hair and blue eyes.”

“No, no,” she explained patiently. “Do you tend to choose clothes in cool blues, warm pinks, or exciting yellows?”

“Oh. I like blue, I guess,” was my reply, safe enough since blue seemed to dominate every group on the chart.

Apparently this was an important consideration for the colors that would go into the next batch of caulking compound.

“How do you put on your foundation?” was the next question, and I almost smarted off that I hadn’t worn a foundation since my mother made me wear one under my wedding gown. Mom’s unstated philosophy seemed to be, If you think you’re old enough to get married, you’re old enough to be as miserable as the rest of us.

Then I realized Jody was talking about stuff you smear on your face to cover up pores. Long ago I had figured out that if you didn’t put junk in your pores, you wouldn’t have to spend the rest of your waking hours trying to clean junk out of your pores. Just skip the middle step — wash your face when you get up and when you go to bed, and your pores will thank you for it.

After Jody finished the plastering, she assured me she’d “do” whatever coloring my cheeks required. She let me do my own lips. “Take this,” she said, handing me a tiny pink-tipped pencil, “and make two little tents at the top of the upper lip, then connect them to imaginary dots at the corners of your mouth. Then draw a straight line across the bottom of the lower lip and connect the ends also to the corner dots.”

I replied suavely. “Huh?”

Actually, it wasn’t that tricky — except that the pencil tickles like the dickens, and it’s hard to connect dots that keep jumping all over your face. Painting in the middles was just about as ticklish. Jody had the foresight to give me a very inconspicuous color. I think she knew a lot of it was going to miss.

She sponged color on my eye lids and let me scrub on mascara. Then she let me look.

I was amazed. I was still me. Nothing had changed much, unless invisible pores count.

Well, I thought, driving home, that was probably the worst of it, and that wasn’t so bad. All I have to do now is pick out some outfits, let someone mess around with my hair, and learn to walk into the church fellowship hall with one shoulder in front of the other.

Piece of cake, I thought. Ha.

To be continued . . .

[Sallie Satterthwaite of Peachtree City has been writing for The Citizen since our first issue Feb. 10, 1993. Before that she had served as a city councilwoman and as a volunteer emergency medical technician. She is the only columnist we know who has a fire station named for her. Her email is]