This is the title of a chapter from "French chic: the secret to french style", by Ali Martine. (I am so going to buy this book). But in the meantime, I thought about French women inheriting their beauty rituals, & myself.
My own mum never had time nor space (she worked & had 8 children & helped bring up some more) to do beauty rituals, but my Nanna, whom I lived with in my teen years, she certainly taught me quite a few things. Just by her own example & standards. One was personal cleanliness. I swear that no-one does as much washing as I do. Except my own 2 daughters. My hair has always been on the oily side so I have to wash it nearly every day. Nanna taught me to brush my hair, so I do, every day, bending over from the waist & just brushing. But I have never mastered the ancient ritual of hairdos, even though Nanna (and one of my daughters) tried to encourage me there. And to use just a little bit of makeup, so I still do, nearly every day. I have never managed to do the nail polish thing very successfully. Nanna always had beautifully polished nails which she manicured herself, but alas! I am a total failure at doing this.
Nanna was adamant that no-one needed lots of clothes, & I have always lived by this. She was most vexed by my lack of colour sense, but I have managed to improve this vastly. Mostly because she felt that it mattered. And I have discovered that it does. I even did a colour consultant course with Grace Cosmetics about 20 years ago & found that, of course, the correct colours for our skin tone make us look & feel so much better. I watched Nanna make youthful clothes with classic lines for herself, & have borrowed this too. Not the dressmaking, I am not so great at this either, even though I can & have done it, it's just that others do it better than me. And, from Nanna's example I am a great mender of clothes, which so delighted 2 of my grand daughters. There is something special about your grandmother mending your fave clothes.
I was a little spitfire when I was younger, but Nanna taught me, again by example, & also with behaviour guidelines, how much happier one could be if one was nice. It works. It was easy to quickly learn. She taught me the value of love & laughter, of routines & self caring. She trained me to be tidy, which I am not. I have to work at it, always. And I do. I know how much happier I am when things are put away, I think more clearly, & I feel most virtuous.
But I have been a bit useless at passing all this on. I thought that my daughters would just absorb it all, from moi. They didn't. They each have their own characters. Perhaps in many ways I had actually been like Nanna after all, & therefore found it so easy to emulate her. One of my daughters is quite like me so she picked up from me things like having certain clothes ironed, shoes clean, house tidied, somewhat elegant clothing. We have, on occasion, each bought the same top, & each summer we both buy cheap black canvas shoes which only last a season. And I introduced her to face washes, moisturisers & sun block at an early age. Sadly, we were all just frying in the sun when my eldest was young, & face washes didn't exist.
Something strange has happened instead of me grandly passing down rituals. One of my daughters takes me shopping to buy important things like make-up primers, & mineral face powders. I need to know these things! She sorts me out, make-up wise, & has been doing so for years now. A beautician friend, Camellia Iordache, teaches me what I need to do to look after my skin. My eldest grand daughter is a veritable mine of information & I'm often trying to find out where she bought make-up & clothes from. We have similar tastes. I am inheriting beauty rituals, in reverse.
Recently I bought myself some Palmers cocoa butter skin lotion. It smells so delicious! One of my daughters uses it, so I know that it is good as an inherited thingey. And pawpaw ointment, as it's always in her make-up bag. I didn't know what to do with it at first, but Molly Sims, supermodel, said to put it around your eyes & on your lips, before bed, so I quite often do. And I put it on on little rashes that I get. The latest copycat find is very cheap but fantastically effective face wipes. From Kmart. Way better than the expensive ones that I've used. Another inheritance. As is the oatmeal facial scrub that was recommended.
I do now have bath mitts for scrubbing moi in the shower, good nike type shoes for daily walks, I now buy cheap slippers each winter then throw them away at the end of winter (I spent years not using slippers as I loathe grubby slippers), & use both a hottie & a mink blanket to heat my bed when it's cold. I have used eyebrow dye, & recently changed my mascara to the latest Great Lash one. All reverse learnt.
It has all left me wondering if other kiwi women inherit their beauty rituals from their kids & friends. Quite opposite to the French.
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