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Southern Girl Academy: Make-Up

I am so pleased to have been asked to share my wisdom on Southern women and makeup with the good students of this Academy. Let me just say that, by virtue of your being here, you have proven yourself to be a fine, upstanding creature who, even if not already blessed with the good sense, natural grace and devastating charm of a Southern woman, is at least on the right track to developing those virtues. For that, you are to be commended.

mascaraMy background with makeup and beauty is rich and long. I was born of a beautiful Southern woman who has always made great efforts to put her best face forward, and who has  passed along her secrets and wisdom to me through the years. What I have learned from her, and other attractive women in my life, could fill a book, not a blog post. Also, I have always had a natural curiosity about decoration and enhancements that has played out from my chin up more so than anywhere else in my life. Perhaps I could have been an artist, but my eyes became my favorite palette at an early age. This curiosity has culminated in a professional MAC makeup case overflowing with products of all shades and formulas, and that contains no less than 10 different types of mascara at any given time.

Those are my qualifications. Now that you know more about me, I trust you will take my beauty advice to heart. Here are what I like call The Basic Rules For Being A Southern Beauty.

  1. You must accept the fact that there is no such creature as a natural beauty. You know who comes closest to having natural beauty? Two year olds. And even they could use a touch of concealer from time to time. I have seen some of the world’s most beautiful women up close, and honey, there ain’t nothing natural about them. I don’t care how cute you think you are, or how busy your lifestyle is, trust me, you need some enhancements. If you think you can get by with a natural look, you must understand that it takes a deft hand to create that illusion.
  2. cliniqueYour first experience with makeup other than Bonne Bell Lip Smackers should never be before age 12 or 13, and should be at the Clinique counter. Girls, please stop bugging your mothers to let you wear makeup if you’re any younger, and please stop thinking you can start with Chanel or Dior. (You must earn that privilege, after you’ve both mastered the art of seduction and earned a paycheck that justifies owning a $50 lipstick.) You should start with either Aglow or Berry Delight blush, and either Adore U or Baby Baby lipstick, depending upon your skin tone. That is it.
  3. As you get older, you will graduate into foundations, eyeliners, bronzers, and the like. The possibilities are endless. Just remember that you must always, as mentioned above, know your skin tone and your “colors.” All good Southern women have, at one point, learned their “season.” If you don’t know yours, get yourself to the nearest department store makeup section and have a consultant help you figure it out.
  4. Maybelline Great LashFor minor purchases, drugstore makeup brands are perfectly acceptable. In fact, when you tell people that your beautiful new gloss is by Maybelline, they will admire your thrift and resilience (two important traits for Southern women to have, a la Scarlett O’Hara). But for complete overhauls of your look, get thee to a professional.
  5. There are a few makeup items you must have on your face and on your person at all times. The first is some type of foundation, concealer or powder. Everyone has pores, everyone has blood vessels, therefore everyone can use some smoothing out. You must always have on mascara, whether light or heavy. If you don’t, people will wonder if you’ve fallen ill. You should always have a bit of color on your cheeks. Pinching them is only a very temporary fix. And you should always have at least a slick of gloss on your lips, preferable something with a tint. Ladies, Chapstick doesn’t count. It is not makeup. It is something that people who live in very cold places (i.e. Yankees) must wear because the good Lord has seen fit to punish them.
  6. If you have an outstanding feature, by all means, play it up. But don’t whore it out. For example, if you have luscious, full lips, draw attention to them, but don’t feel the need to always lacquer them in a dark color. If you have perfect almond-shaped eyes, you should certainly draw attention to them by using multiple shades of eye shadow at one time, but don’t try to wear a smokey, dramatic look every day. The rest of us can only take so much of your perfection before we get just a teensy bit jealous. And a jealous Southern woman is not something you want too much of in your life.
  7. Lancome Julia RobertsAs you get older, you should avoid very shimmery finishes on your eyes and very dark, matte finishes on your lips. Both of these things are aging, and can look downright silly on anyone over 40 or so. However, if either of those have been your signature look for more than 10 years, you may consider keeping them so as not to confuse the men in your life. You might just consider toning your signature down a bit.
  8. And speaking of signature looks, if any woman in your social circle tries to copy and steal your signature look, you may feel free to give her withering looks. Just make sure your withering looks are done with as little facial movements as possible, so as not to crease your eyeshadow or smear your lipstick or anything like that.
  9. wine  galss lipstickYour makeup should never be anywhere other than on your face. Your foundation should not smear off on your collar or your friend’s face as you air kiss her. If it does, try a new formula, or a lighter touch. Your lipstick should never be left behind on a glass. Here’s a trick: Before drinking, as you bring your glass to your mouth, slightly moisten the rim with your tongue. This will keep your lipstick from attaching to the surface.
  10. A Southern woman will always let a friend know if something is amiss with her makeup, but in subtle, non-intrusive manner. A gentle caress can wipe away a stray eyelash, and a slight flick of the tongue along with pointed eye contact can alert someone to lipstick on her teeth. Remember, you look better when surrounded by other lovelies, so don’t let your companions look like fools. For more than a few minutes, at least.
  11. Whenever possible, always apply your makeup in private. I know many say it is acceptable to reapply lipstick at the table, but really, if you can excuse yourself to the ladies’ room to do this, you should. Part of what we’re doing when we wear makeup is creating an illusion, a mystique, which is defeated when we share our boudoir practices with the general public, or even our husbands.

Finally, I’d like to wrap things up with a visual aid.

dolly parton

The woman on the left is Dolly Parton, a consummate Southern woman. Although her makeup is heavy, she still looks lovely. Notice the carefully crafted look on her eyes — they are works of art. And her lips are perfectly sculpted. Though this look is too heavy for everyday wear, Dolly is a performer, after all, and her makeup suits both the occasion and her features.

Tammy Faye Bakker

The woman on the right is Tammy Faye Bakker. Contrary to popular belief, Tammy Faye was not a Southern woman. She was from Minnesota. Enough said.

Amy Bradley-Hole achieved the perfect liquid line about the time she was acing her SATs. She’s been coaching friends and family into the most beautiful version of themselves ever since. She knows the only natural beauty is inside, that’s why the outside can use a little sprucing up. In fact, she’s been known to go shopping in the rain to prevent a friend from wearing back-up makeup on purpose. You can follow her on Twitter @amybhole.


21 Responses

  1. I LOVE that a visit to the Clinique counter at age 13 is basically a Southern Girl rite of passage. My mom took me by the hand, delivered me to Miss Molly in her white lab coat (I still remember her name) and said, “Give us something her daddy won’t notice.” I got Naturally Glossy mascara, Sandstone eye shadow, some concealer, a powder compact, Nude blush, and Creamy Nude lipstick.

    Still, despite Miss Molly’s excellent introduction to makeup, I may need remedial tutoring in eyeliner application, particularly of the liquid variety.

  2. Love this, Amy! Great job!

  3. I agree with everything you said. I got a little misty. You were raised right. Bravo!

  4. Solid proof that I still have on my makeup training wheels – I still shop at Clinique. Probably because I took myself there when I was 20. What can I say? I was (and still am) a late bloomer.

  5. Every good Southern Girl should have a Clinique Lady of her own on hand when her daughters start a’blooming. That very same Miss Molly has been in my “family” for years. I even babysat her daughters.
    Words cannot describe my joy when I received my first pot of Clinique’s Air Kiss lip gloss.
    I’ve since graduated to Lancome (and, yes, Maybelline) and I’m a sucker for bazillion-dollar Dior Blackout mascara.

    My favorite line in the whole post is in Amy’s bio- the one about makeup-shopping in the rain. That’s true dedication, to beauty and friendship.


  6. Hallelujah, Amen! I’m good at thrift glam. 🙂

    I like the Tammy Faye Bakker comment but I must admit the …Chapstick doesn’t count. It is not makeup. It is something that people who live in very cold places (i.e. Yankees) must wear because the good Lord has seen fit to punish them…. Made. Me. Laugh.

    Good job!

  7. Well dang.

    I’ve never been to the Clinique counter and I have a 13 year old daughter experimenting with eyeliner.

    Solid proof that none of you people should be hanging out with me…

    FABULOUS post, friend!

  8. I remember excitedly inheriting my mother’s Avon, a tiny pot of creme foundation and a nearly used mascara were all that was allowed in the beginning. Now I’ve graduated to wondering where I can sign up for lessons on eyeliner and applying false eyelashes.

    p.s. Totally agree on the mascara. And I’m a winter.

  9. I didn’t know what Clinique or a make up counter was until I was 30.

    I mourn those lost years. Thanks for the wine glass tip!

  10. I was 11 when I went to the Clinique counter for the first time. It was a combo visit to Clinique and Estee Lauder actually. Believe it or not, my Daddy took me, because I had been getting into Mother’s makeup and wearing it.

    Also, Momma to this day says “don’t you think you should put a little more color on your face?”

    While I love Maybelline, Chanel’s Inimitable Intense outrageously priced mascara is perfection in a tube.

    I’m an Autumn. However, in the beginning was a spring. My tone has changed as I’ve gotten older and those colors suit me to a T!

  11. […] I have, however, still been doing some writing. In fact, I just wrote a lesson for the prestigious Southern Girl Academy. I suggest you go read it. And I suggest you do what I say. And I suggest that in my absence, you […]

  12. OH lord. My Mama completely failed me in this area of my life. I didn’t discover the Clinique counter until I read that Black Honey was the PERFECT shade of lipstick in a fashion magazine and had to find out if it was true.

    It was. I still love that stuff.

  13. I left a comment and it didn’t show! Let’s try again.

    My Daddy is actually the one who took me off to the Clinique counter for the first time. I guess he got tired of Momma complaining about me getting into her makeup. It was a bonding moment of clear lipgloss, translucent powder, clear mascara and the palest pink blush they had. Too bad they didn’t realize I was an autumn.

  14. Hit the nail with with Clinique intro. Made me laugh because it was such the thing to do in my circles.

  15. I was already enjoying my first look around the Southern Girl Academy this morning, but this post sealed the deal. I love, love, love your site and this post.

    I totally took my daughter to the Clinique counter when she was 12. And I always wondered why Tammy Fay just couldn’t get her look right. Now I know, she was a Yankee gal! Enough said.

  16. […] received this email from a friend who’s had a rough couple of days: Question for the SGA Makeup Master: Do you have tips for hiding/dealing with the aftermath of tears? Due to tears I’m […]

  17. […] I have, however, still been doing some writing. In fact, I just wrote a lesson for the prestigious Southern Girl Academy. I suggest you go read it. And I suggest you do what I say. And I suggest that in my absence, you […]

  18. This is such a witty, brilliant article! I wear quite a bit of makeup for work but my colleagues think I don’t. I’ve just about perfected that natural look (if their comments are anything to go by).

    I think I should print this post out and hand it to all the Londoner’s who apply their makeup on the train. I appreciate the ability to multitask but I wish they would just wake up earlier and do it at home!!

  19. […] is a tough time for me, makeup-wise. A while back, I wrote about how I will not go without makeup. But between trips to the pool and lake, extra workouts (so as not to embarrass myself too badly at […]

  20. ._. Yankee gals be feeling offended.

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