makeovers at the beauty counter of happiness

why i read it: because it’s a tiny book (not teeny tiny like the last one, but the size that’s also often found in the cashwrap line). because i’m on that sentiment quest.

what i liked: my grandfather sold movie magazines in his stationery store. he let me read them for free if didn’t get them dirty.

reading about lana turner’s life was a lot more interesting than reading about pocahontas in school (p. 41).

when i ask olivia how’s school, she says, “fine.”

she’s much more specific when we go shopping. she’ll try on a pair of jeans, make a face in the mirror, and say, “gross. they stick out. the pockets suck. nobody wears this kind.”

“you know,” i often will say, “when i was your age, i thought i looked awful in everything. but when i look back now…”

before i finish the sentence, olivia gets that glazed look in her eyes she always gets whenever i start a sentence with, “when i was your age.”

she must have learned that from my mother (p. 45).

dear olivia,

you probably won’t understand much about this letter, but since i’m never going to send it to you, that’s all right.

i just got off the phone with your mother. i can tell from her voice that she’s mad at me.

it always amazes me how little influence i have on making her happy, and how much influence i have on making her unhappy.

i was watching a television program this morning and a famous psychologist was telling everybody that happiness is a state of mind. i haven’t a clue as to how to drive to that state.

but whenever i’m sad, i think of you–and then i smile. maybe that psychologist knew something after all (p. 50).

the summer i was thirteen, eileen ford, the manager of the ford model agency, had a radio program on saturdays at one o’clock on which she’d reveal the beauty secrets of famous models.

listeners could write her letters about their beauty problems, and she’d pick some to answer on the air. she wouldn’t use the person’s name if she read their letter. i wrote her a letter.

one saturday, i was eating a can of franco-american spaghetti and listening to her program when she read a letter about someone with all my beauty problems: bitten nails, shiny nose, stringy hair, flat-chested, big feet, bony knees, buck teeth, near-sighted, and shy.

i got so nervous, i ran out of the kitchen. a minute later, i went back to listen. by then, she was reading somebody else’s problems.

i always wondered if my life would have turned out differently if i’d heard her advice (p. 54).

i’ve always checked out other women. i do it on movie lines, at shoprite, in mcdonald’s. i think to myself:

that’s the wrong hairstyle for her.
doesn’t that woman have a full-length mirror at home?
oh, blondie, you need your roots done.
those shoes have seen too many rainy days.
dangling rhinestone earrings don’t go with sneakers.
nobody will take you seriously with those nails.
hey, missy, it’s time to call jenny craig.
no one looks good in that color .

it’s all i can do to stop myself from walking over to a total stranger and saying, “honey, lose the horizontal stripes” (p. 82). [that color? she means burnt orange, yall… i’m just saying]

“you see someone on the street and essentially what you notice about them is the flaw” (diane arbus–p. 83)

once i dreamed i was in a fancy mall. it was probably the short hills mall in new jersey. the stores were all boutiques selling designer body parts.

i charged a pair of manolo blanik feet, a chanel chin, and a perfectly matched set of boobs designed by vera wang exclusively for me. on my way out, i picked up a versace midriff on sale. for the first time in my life, i was finally perfect. 

when i got home, my husband took one look at the bill and returned me (p. 92).

no one really cares how you look when your get older anyway, as long as you close your mouth when you chew and don’t drool.

but every few years somebody does research and once again discovers that beautiful people have an advantage in life, taller people get better jobs, thinner people are more successful.

even though i know better, i still fuss with eyeliners, blow dryers, and diets, hoping i’ll become become better looking, taller, thinner, and happier.

who lives without contradictions? but who wants to live without hope? (p. 105).

what sucked: for all the things i liked, and it looks like the number was a lot, the book overall was just kind of blah.

having said all that: the first third of it sucked a whole lot more than the last third.

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