Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Friday, 4 December 2009

A thousand faces

Soon the novel will require me to be plausible about women's make-up.

Such technology! Such techniques! Masochistically shaped eyebrows. Pornographically shaped lipstick. Blusher (On and off like a traffic light?) The deliberate wickedness of eye-shadow. Foundation that wots not of foundation garments. Gloss like lubrication. Lashes heavy with soot. Cheek contours with colour gradations. Spangles. And where does make-up end? On the jawline? Just underneath? Round the back?.

More important: what's it like to have two - or more - faces? I speak as someone who fears barriers between himself and his self-imagined image. An incautiously bought trilby, quickly discarded. Tight shirts. Even an abhorrent wedding ring, especially if it no longer slides off. Yet a woman may transform herself with lipstick alone. Smudge it for pathos. Sharpen the outline for ruthlessness.

My criteria for feminine looks belong to the era when make-up predominated. I failed to respond to Julie Christie and her tousled naturalness. I am sidelined, emasculated but fascinated.

Novel progress 8/12/09. Ch. 7: 4463 words (finished, unread). Chs.1 - 6: 28702 words. Comment: Hatch: bright light and darkness.

17 comments:

Avus said...

Well, you could always try lipstick, yourself BB.
As to Julie Christie - she rather floated my boat! (See the film "Far from the Madding Crowd")

Eleanor said...

OK. When I can stop laughing I'll try to respond in helpful detail.

marja-leena said...

Made me chuckle, especially your labels "art, medical"... the latter makes me think of face lifts, nose jobs and other reconstruction. But some men do that too, the infamous Michael Jackson comes to mind. Is this about REAL people?

Sir Hugh said...

I can't comment on this one, and even if I could I wouldn't admit to it.

The Crow said...

Emasculated? Seriously?

Well, damn! There goes my favorite fantasy!

;D

Barrett Bonden said...

Avus: You're nobbut a lad. I'm not surprised you fell for JC; your floated boat probably sank over Kylie Minogue. Talk to me instead about Rita Hayworth, Virginia Mayo (I did a sonnet about her), Linda Darnell, Marie Windsor and Veronica Lake. All dead now and with them my adolescent dreams.

And no I can't put on lipstick and wear pantyhose. If I felt disturbed by a reflection of me wearing a Tyrolean trilby (see post) I'm not going to make it to first base with false eyelashes.

Eleanor: Here's the situation: a professional woman aged forty, cylindrical shaped face, slightly prominent front teeth, close-cut hair with strands of grey, is required to shape up cosmetically at image adviser's recommendation.

M-L: It's not an accusation, I know about fellas tarting themselves up but I don't care to write about them. Real people? Are you saying women don't use make-up these days? The second para didn't imply my character was going to go the whole hundle.

Sir Hugh: Nothing sexually dubious about climbing boots, I agree.

The Crow: I'm flattered but you gotta shift out of first gear. What you're havering about is only the second meaning. The first is: "To deprive of strength, vigour, or spirit." That's me to a T.

The Crow said...

Shifting, even as I type.

My favorite RH movie is "Gilda."

:)

herhimnbryn said...

Make up for 40-50 old female?
Less is more.
Subtle.

Plutarch said...

Watching a woman apply make-up in a mirror is always revealing. We are witnessing the processes of a relationship, of which one is not, in the normal course of events,remotely aware.

Rouchswalwe said...

Only a wee bit of eyeliner for me ... getting older, so subtle is the key. I always held Julie Christie as an idol of mine after seeing her performance in Dr, Zhivago, but I'm not blond. Make-up is too much trouble for me, affects the taste of the ale. Yuck!

Eleanor said...

I may be able to help with this BB, now...let's see...

A 40 year old woman in need of an image make-over would probably be cynical, if not deeply suspicious, of make-up. She may very well find herself perched precariously on a tiny stool in the beauty department of a large store, having "the works" applied to her face by a 19 year old sporting two tattoos and three facial piercings. She might then walk into the bathroom, scrub it all off, and have a good cry.

Eventually she'd find a kind soul who'd help her buy some very subtle blush, eyeliner, eyeshadow and lipstick. Mascara too. Oh, the lipstick must never be glossy, the teeth that stick out a bit....not good with gloss. She might find it easier to be accompanied by a dear friend who's an artist and likes to discuss the colour palette. Artist friends are great that way.

She'd never agree to foundation, that's a big big step.

A trip to the hairdresser would be far more important than make-up though. She'd want to get rid of those greys pronto. I think she'd be absolutely delighted with that!! Also, she'd decide to grow the hair out just a bit more, so it's a short bob, tres chic.

I like her already. What's her name?

I think only very young and rebellious women nowadays would view make-up as ruthless, sexual or deliberately wicked. Most women see it as a bit of camouflage to hide their flaws. Terribly sad really, not nearly as much fun as in the past.

Eleanor said...

I'm back, I'll try to be brief.

Your wonderful descriptions of make-up reminded me of my favourite scene in Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds". Shoshanna Dreyfus is preparing to kill the Nazis and she is shown applying her blush and lipstick like war-paint. Make-up can indeed by ruthless. I wonder if your character would discover this?

Barrett Bonden said...

Oh, ye ministering angels (Erm, that's the secular sort I wouldn't want to see any of you hunch-backed with wings). A million kisses.

The Crow: Just seen "The lady from Shanghai" again; total rubbish but it didn't matter. Otherwise it's "Pal Joey" where old-style beauty eats modern beauty alive.

HHB: An excellent start. It fits even more of the character than I felt able to include.

Plutarch: I agree. One of the great life-affirming moments is to watch a woman open her mouth and whip lipstick round the resultant circle in 2 sec. flat. Or does that sound laddish? Unfortunately your premise presumes a male viewer; at the moment that doesn't fit. But it might.

RW (sZ): Lipstick and wine, I've always worried about that. So, subtle it is. A wee bit of eyeliner - without anything else? At what point do questions about make-up cross the boundaries of propriety? Comfort yourself that the person across the table is getting older too. By the second. And I'm sorry for stirring up the JC fan club. I like her too and I was only using her as a milestone in beauty fashions. Mind you, it was a shock to see her as Gertrude.

Eleanor: You've done me proud. I should say that the cosmetics gallimaufry in my blog wasn't intended as a shopping list for the novel; I was simply trying to show I didn't start from ground zero. The idea of a tattooed and pierced operative is repellently wonderful. And, of course, hair is the point where styled and shaped grooming starts and is easier for me to understand; hence I didn't mention that. That's a very good point about make-up being a sort of age boundary and the dilemma suits what I have to say. Who is she? I've been a bit too teasy-weasy about her in the past so I'll do a post about her pretty soon, given the help I've received.

Eleanor, part two: Haven't seen the film but, inevitably, will. As you've probably guessed, though, youth doesn't get a look-in in my novel.

Lucy said...

For the novel eh?

That's your story...

Julia said...

Comment boxes that take a life of their own, I love it!

What is the character's career? In case you've read it, I think that David Lodge's Deaf Sentence has a good description of his wife's midlife makeover which might help. Also, I agree with Eleanor re the hair. Any advisor is going to suggest a more flattering cut, color and probably some highlights to deal with the gray. A dash of color on the lips is good too but if she sports bucked teeth I'm guessing the advisor would also suggest color elsewhere, to avoid attracting all attention to one spot on her face.

Barrett Bonden said...

Lucy: You're as cynical as a hideous old journalist. But I must confess my reaction was: what have I wrought?

Julia: Some of your questions will be answered in the next post. Great suggestion about David Lodge, I usually read all his stuff. His novel, Nice Work, touches on a couple of the points I'm looking at, especially the obscurity (to most people and the media) of manufacturing industry. Teeth not quite bucked: the poor lady actually exists albeit as merely the external shape of my character. Yes, hair more important than make-up (as I mention, above) but hair is something I've studied. A real merry-go-round, eh?

Hattie said...

For a change of persona, you could try growing a beard if don't have one or shaving it off if you do have one.