It wasn’t until I turned 30 that I began wearing make-up. Only on the rare occasion during my 20th decade would I smack on full war-paint. I hated shopping, always bought shoes in black or brown, wore the same accessories with every outfit and rarely did my hair. I was a shiny-faced, frizzy haired, blah-dressed mess who – swaer to God – didn’t know what a Manolo Blahnik was.
I reasoned that I was too busy with studying, working and writing to waste time on such feminine foolishness. I wanted to cultivate my brain not my look. But when I showed up to work in my boring shoes, black pants and button-down shirt that didn’t quite fit, I felt ungainly and awkward around girls who wore make-up.
But then I turned 30 and became one of those girls. I bought red high heels to wear with my white and red cherry dress that became the dress Will admires in the second chapter of Hot Tamara. I went to a hair stylist on a regular basis, rather than pop into a Fantastic Sams when I was bored on a Sunday afternoon. I truly crossed the the threshold when I bought make-up, Bare Escentuals to be exact, and actually wore it on a fairly regular basis. (I have really oily skin and this is the only foundation that doesn’t wreak havoc on my skin!) Suddenly I no longer felt imtimidated by women who wore scarves and used handbags that coordinated with their ensemble. I felt like my outside reflected my inside.
When I wrote about this transition through Isa Avellan, my heroine of In Between Men, I wondered if I was breaking the rules of chick lit. But then on second thought, I realized I didn’t care and wrote it anyway. So it was really cool to find Amanda Maria Morrison’s keen and flattering review of IBM in The American-Statesmen. She said, “It’s easy to root for Isa, a devoted mother and champion of immigrant rights who nevertheless has ‘always been the girl with the books pressed to her chest, eyes on the ground.'”
And then she added: “In order find her inner vamp — who appears in ghostly visitations as Joan Collins — Isa pays a visit to La Diosa Salon, where her comadres perform an emergency hair-and-makeup procedure. With a wink toward magical-realist fiction and telenovela drama, Castillo describes the post-op moment in which ‘every eye in the salon was wide with astonishment and chests rose and fell with excitement upon seeing a miracle’ — Isa in eyeshadow.”
God, I’m shameless in that I love a great review.