Glamour girl turns too quickly back into yuppie mommy

May 29, 1994|By SUSAN REIMER

"I will never look this good again."

Once you are on this side of 40 and the decline begins, you can say that to yourself every morning with some certainty. You will never again look as good as you do right now.

But this is particularly and painfully true as I look at the photographs made of me at Elegant Images in Columbia Mall. Hair poofed to the max. Makeup as thick as peanut butter. Bare shoulders skimmed by satin and silk. I will never look this good again.

I went -- in the name of investigative journalism -- in a work shirt, khaki shorts and my yuppie mommy white Keds. No makeup and curling iron. I wanted the transformation to be complete. And it was. I had no idea I was so beautiful.

Glamour isn't my style. I am a workaholic mom whose clothes and makeup have all the zip of 'Nilla Wafers. I once prepared for a fancy Christmas party by having my nails manicured red, and my daughter thought she'd finally gotten the Sparkle Beach Barbie mom she thought she deserved.

My husband says he likes me "plain," and I never have had the nerve to ask if that means he likes me without adornment or if he likes me because I am plain. His response to my trips to the hairdresser is: "What's wrong, honey? When you have problems, they usually come out in your hair."

But the folks at Elegant Images understand me. As I sit in the makeup chair and watch April Jurasevich's sponges and brushes uncover the me that was there all along, she predicts that I will say what everyone says when they see the finished product: "That doesn't even look like me." And she is right.

There are plenty of women who want to not look like themselves for at least one afternoon. Elegant Images, a franchise and subsidiary of Segall-Majestic Inc., the Baltimore company that has been doing my children's school photos for years, is booked solid most weekends.

I spend three hours in a cross between a beauty salon and a model's photography session. After Kelly Loudermilk goes after my droopy locks with a rat-tail comb and a can of hair spray, there is a wall of dress-up clothes for me to choose from: furs, denims, leathers, lace, jewels and sequins.

Some trick lighting and some soft focus camera work, and I look like Joan Collins, Heather Locklear or Cher. Benefit Ball Barbie or Biker Barbie. Take your pick. And all for not much more than the cost of those family portraits we do every couple of years.

"Before Christmas and Valentine's Day are our busiest times," says owner Billie Roogow. "Wives, girlfriends. Women want to do this as a gift to their husbands or boyfriends."

And maybe to themselves.

"Everyone can be more glamorous than they are," says Billie diplomatically when I ask what kinds of miracles her staff has had to perform.

I feel awkward in my costumes and the gaudy jewelry, but the photographer melts my reserve with his boisterous cheerleading: God, you're great! What a smile! Give me another one. Are you sure you don't do this for a living? You look incandescent."

And I feel incandescent. As if I am glowing from someplace inside. Where have these black lace gloves been all my life? How could I not have known how spectacular I look in a beaded bodice?

It is over too quickly, and I am back in my khakis and my Keds, padding toward my car, looking from the neck up like Sharon Stone. Feeling kind of silly, looking as good as I do in a mall full of half-nuts bare-faced mothers doing their Saturday errands.

When they see me, my family recoils. They try to be polite -- I think they know I will cry -- but even my daughter takes a step back. "I think they did too much, Mom," she says.

Hurt and trying not to show it, I leave to drive around the neighborhood, hoping to find a girlfriend to giggle with. Someone needs to see how beautiful I am before I no longer am.

There must be witnesses.

Back home, I pucker my lips in the mirror before I step into the shower. They make a luscious rose and satin bow. I didn't know my mouth was so pretty.

The water washes the temporarily new me down the drain. The me I knew I was all along. The me I will never be again.

And I think to myself that I will start to wear lipstick.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.