Body politics: first George's lips, now Barbara's face

ALICE STEINBACH

October 08, 1992|By ALICE STEINBACH

Forget the deficit. Forget the debates and family values and whether Yo-Yo Perot is up or down, in or out. Put Hillary-bashing and Bushanoia and Clintonesia on the back burner. In this year of presidential politics, it is now time to turn our attention to the burning issue of the day: Beautygate.

Here's the deal: Barbara Bush, a woman who is admired widely for feeling comfortable about looking her age -- she refuses to dye her white hair, doesn't go on crash diets, eschews cosmetic surgery, etc., etc. -- suddenly has been revealed by the Houston Post as a fraud!

Now, you're probably saying, "Alice, this news is more shocking than a two-headed hog trying to scuba dive in a sea of mud." But the story's really pretty simple. Let's raise the hood and see what's underneath.

Seems like Barbara Bush had her picture taken for a Houston Post profile story last August and then presented the newspaper with a cosmetician's bill for services rendered. The incident elicited this interpretation from Houston Post reporter Clifford Pugh in his profile of Mrs. Bush. He begins his list of "myths" about the first lady with this one:

"Myth No. 1," he writes. "Barbara Bush doesn't care about her appearance. Her aides maintain the first lady has little interest in such things as hair and makeup. Yet, after she was photographed for this article, her press office billed the Houston Post $75 for a makeup artist to prepare her for the pictures."

Well, now, these boys down in Texas like to play hardball. But so do the liberal media types in Washington, who only want to go digging for dirt like a mangy dog in heat. Take, for instance, the recent follow-up done by the Washington Post on this breaking story. It reported, among other things, that a cosmetician's bill was "sent by a Springfield, Va., woman who would only confirm last night that she does regular work for Mrs. Bush."

So there it is. It's not pretty and it's not what the American people want to hear. But if nobody steps up to the plate and accepts responsibility for anything -- including the fact that Barbara Bush wants to look good in the newspapers and is willing to pay $75 to do so -- how is this country ever going to compete? Particularly against some foreign news maker like Princess Diana -- a woman who, I have read, achieves her natural look with of an eight-step routine devised and applied by her makeup artist Mary Greenwell.

Now, some of you are probably saying: "But, Alice, there's more to this than just wanting to look good. There's the issue of who's pickin' up the $75 tab. See, in a country that's got a $4 trillion debt, somebody's got to ask if the average working American can afford this $75 surprise to bail out Barbara Bush's wrinkles."

Well, I knew you were going to take the gloves off and ask that. But I'm ready for it. In fact, as I told Phil Donahue and Larry King when they asked me that very question on TV, I welcome that question. Look, we're in a mess here in this country. And I'm here as the cleanup gal. I'm just a gal showing up after the party with a shovel and a broom to try to clean up this mess about Barbara Bush and this makeup image.

Here's the deal. First: In a White House where Betty Ford had a face lift, Rosalynn Carter had her eyes done and Nancy Reagan probably had both, what's the big fuss? Think about it. We're not talking a major overhaul here with Barbara Bush. Just a minor tune-up so she'll purr in front of the camera like a jaguar dining on an antelope's head.

Second: Life is not fair. If it were fair, there would be no need for lip liner or mascara or Preparation H used under the eyes -- the way Miss America contestants do -- to tighten up bags.

Now, none of this is pleasant. Poking your eyes with brushes. Covering your face with the kind of slimy goo that would make a wild mustang turn tail and run. There's not a single second of this that anyone would do for fun.

Except Cher, of course.

Third and last: I've worked out a chart that shows the difference between what Barbara Bush billed the Houston Post -- $75 -- and the bill submitted to Esquire a year or so back to touch up the cover photo of Michelle Pfeiffer -- $1,525.

Now think about it. Which cost more? Barbara Bush, $75. Michelle Pfeiffer, $1,525. It doesn't take a slick-tailed hyena rooting in rubbish to figure it out. And don't let those fancy Washington suits convince you otherwise.

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