Friday, March 18, 2016

All in a cream

Once upon a time, before she was married, before her four children were born, my mother worked as a Shiseido cosmetics salesperson at a make up counter in a department store. It was her first real job after she dropped out of high school in the years following her father's death. She had to help support the family. 

She became an expert on what and how to apply everything from moisturizer to mascara. By the time I was born, my mother was finished with her career at the make up counter. 

At home, though, my mother still treated herself to a facial regimen befitting a movie star. I loved watching her dot her special moisturizer along her cheeks and neck and then pat, circle, and stroke the cream into her skin in an elaborate ritual. The fragrance of her various creams and perfumes wafted into my nostrils as I admired my mom's beauty. I was mesmerized. 

I don't remember when the spell was broken. 

How can I take any of these product names seriously? 

Acne Solutions Emergency Gel Lotion
Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion
Turnaround Daytime Revitalizing Moisturizer
Super rescue Antioxidant Night Moisturizer

Who thought of these names? Do women really think of acne as an emergency? Is the yellow lotion in the little bottle dramatic and different? Oh yes, the price is both. Is my face a turnaround zone? Do I need to be super rescued by moisturizer? What???

For the record, I have no particular quarrel with Clinique. But really, Clinique, I don't buy this emergency or drama for your mama. Not for a hot moment. 


  1. I adore your parental reflections. That women are so concerned with these's the reality, I guess. In my head, I just heard Dolly Parton from Steel Magnolias say "there's no such thing as natural beauty," lol, but I disagree: there is!! I haven't worn make up in decades. My. Thank you for finding the energy to write such a great post. Hope you have a relaxing weekend.

  2. Sometimes you just have to wonder what those in marketing are thinking when you see the names of some products ... and not just cosmetics.

  3. Superb capturing of a time, place, and ritual, and such contrast from today's over-the-top marketing ploys.

  4. I love your last line," But really, Clinique, I don't buy this emergency or drama for your mama. Not for a hot moment. " "...drama for your mama..." I love it! Interesting , you took the time to analyze the names of these products. I love the way you capture your mother's gift applying these products. Your piece moves from a sense of enchantment to disillusion. I love it! Your mother's strength steps in as she undertakes a job to support her family after her father died. You absolutely need to publish!

  5. I love reading your mother's story, and then am totally surprised when the piece takes an entirely different twist. The fine art of naming…

  6. I really like this piece and agree with you about the names. I hate any advertising campaign that requires me to think of my body as an emergency!

    That said, I *adore* wearing make-up and doing my hair every day. I'm a bundle of contradictions.


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