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The beauty business

Nowadays weddings are mass entertainment shows with the bride and groom as the main stars and the hapless parents, siblings and extended family the supporting cast

Gulf News

I recently underwent a makeover in the hands of a beautician. Many well-meaning friends and relatives somehow convinced me that, since I was mother of the groom, I had to stand out in the crowd. The beautician’s services extended not just to hair and make-up but also to helping you wear your clothes in the most flattering manner possible.

Now, if you have ever been closely involved with a wedding, you’ll know that nowadays they are no longer simple affairs that concern a young man and a young woman vowing eternal love and tying the knot. No, nowadays weddings are mass entertainment shows with the bride and groom as the main stars and the hapless parents, siblings and extended family the supporting cast. These shows extend for at least two or three days and the audience had better be entertained, and entertained well!

So, keeping this in mind, it is obvious that I had to look “presentable” which obviously meant enlisting the services of a beautician. Now, this may sound easy, but it is far from easy. Beauticians — or rather good beauticians — had been pressed into service months ago. So it was with great difficulty — and after a great deal of coaxing and cajoling — that a beautician was hired for me.

She purposely kept the price a secret, but when I met her a day before the scheduled events, and she quoted me the rate, I had a mild heart attack.

“I... I’m not the bride,” I quavered. “Just the groom’s mum.”

“Yes, I know,” she answered. “I normally only do bridal makeup and never work without getting a full down payment, but in your case I just said yes. I’ve turned down many other lucrative offers just because I had committed to you.”

A ‘favour’

Well, what more could I say or do except cough up the money in one go. After all, this young lady was doing me a favour, not vice versa!

On the scheduled date, she arrived with a big black case and two young assistants. The black case opened up into many compartments, each containing all the tricks of the beauty trade. There were other strange tools that resembled medieval instruments of torture that I in my frazzled state dared not ask about. For the next hour, I humbly submitted myself — body and soul — to the lady and her assistants. I could not — dared not — see what they were up to as they curled and ironed my hair first, putting in all manner of sprays and creams to tame my stubborn strands. Then came the turn of my face, which was scrubbed and then dabbed with what was termed a base, much like how an artist prepares his canvas.

‘I don’t want to look young, or try to look young,” I croaked from under the layers of paint with my neck tilted back at a precarious angle. I had horrors of looking like a wannabe with a pancake face and, worse still, of inviting muttered comments like mutton dressed as lamb.

“Don’t worry. Keep your eyes closed and your mouth open,” was the tart reply as she continued painting my eyelids and my lips. Finally, I was helped into my dress and then only allowed to look into the mirror.

What I saw was a face I scarcely recognised as my own! My hair had been swept up and curled and set in what I considered to be a style from one of the Elizabethan paintings of yore. My face had been painted artfully, and I did not in any way resemble a geisha girl. My dress was carefully arranged, with pins holding up the drape.

Was it worth it all? Well, that’s hard to say for someone like me who normally takes around two minutes to do my hair and face and who found the entire process a bit of an ordeal. But I guess sometimes it’s OK, even fun, to subject yourself to a pro who can make you look more glamorous.

Padmini B. Sankar is a Dubai-based freelance writer.