Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Brown Skin Is Beautiful—Now Put Some Make-up On It!



By DENENE MILLNER

My mother was incredibly beautiful—had this fiery red hair and high cheekbones and the smoothest, most flawless skin you ever did see. With her hair just so, she looked so much like Whitney Houston (the pre-Bobby Brown/crack-is-wack version) her co-workers on the line at Estee Lauder regularly used to ask her to bust a tune. (Um, just for the record, my mother couldn’t hold a note if someone tucked it in a Birkin bag.) She was, in a word, stunning.

What made her more beautiful to me, though, was that she was fly without make-up. She just didn’t wear a lot of it. A little mascara, some lipstick, and maybe some blush, that was it. I remember standing in the doorway, watching her blot her Fashion Fair maroon-ish red lipstick on a tissue, wishing for the day that I could slip a little of it on my lips, too. She’d smile—always that beautiful smile—and tell me, “If you want to keep that pretty skin, don’t wear make-up. Just keep your face clean and you won’t have to worry about bumps and all of that stuff.”

And, like a good daughter, I listened to my mother, because that’s what you did when you were Bettye’s child. I don’t think I wore much more than lip gloss until I was well into my sophomore year in college, and even then, I used it sparingly, and only on special occasions. And even now, as a mom with three brown babies of my own, I pretty much operate under the same philosophy: A bare face is the best face.

Well, I made the mistake of saying this to one of the most beautiful women in the world—the legendary actress Diahann Carroll. I had the honor and pleasure of interviewing Ms. Carroll for Essence magazine’s annual Hollywood issue, which hit stands just in time for their Essence Black Women In Hollywood Luncheon, going down at the Beverly Hills Hotel tomorrow. In the story, she dishes on her ground-breaking career, her roles as the devilishly delicious Dominique Deveraux on my all-time favorite soap, “Dynasty,” and how she, an African American woman, survived—and prospered—in the unforgiving, extremely white American film industry.

Needless to say, the glamorous Ms. Carroll stopped me mid-sentence when I flippantly said, “I don’t really wear make-up unless it’s for special occasions. I’m mostly bare-faced unless there’s something special happening.”

She fell silent—I’m guessing so that she could make sure I heard her gasp.

“Stop thinking of it that way,” she scolded me with that magnificent voice. “Think of the person you run into. You’re taking you! And that little attention you give to you means you really like you.

“Barefaced to me,” she sniffed, “does not mean you like you. I understand taking a holiday, but you must like you. It’s important.”

I tell you, by the time I finished that interview, I was so smitten by Ms. Carroll, I was naming her as one of my favorite celebrity interviews ever—up there with Lena Horne, Ossie and Ruby Dee, and yes, even the in-persons with Idris Elba and George Clooney. Um, yeah—that says A LOT about Ms. Carroll. Anyways, after I hung up with her from our hour-long interview, I literally ran into my bathroom and dusted my face with my amazing-but-hardly-ever-used set of Bobbi Brown foundation, blush, and eye shadow, applied my trusty waterproof Maybelline mascara and eyeliner, and finished it all off with my Aveda lip tint. And then I stood back and admired the work.

And Diahann Carroll was right: I liked me.

I put on a nice top, and some hot jeans, and even traded up from my Crocs to a pair of high-heeled mules because all that work deserved something adorable to go with it. And then I walked out the door tipping—you know how it is… like I was too cute. Nick loved it. And my girls did, too.

Later, when I took my daughters to Mandarin class at Angelou’s house, she opened the door and immediately asked me where I was going. “You got make-up on,” she said. “You got a hot date or something?”

I cracked up.

And told her, simply, that if only for today, I was practicing liking me.

That one was for you, Ms. Carroll.

To read my profile tribute to the incredible Diahann Carroll, as well as my domestic violence piece on two of the stars of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, pick up the March 2009 issue of Essence.


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17 comments:

  1. Go you! It sounds like a wonderful interview, and she sounds like someone I'd love to have over for girls night with a few drinks and a night of 'good talking'.

    I don't know if I'll ever forgo my naked face, but it is certainly food for thought.

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  2. I liked both articles that were in Essence.

    I know just what you mean about the make-up thing.

    I'm still getting use to it all. Someimes I want to be glam other days I want to fade to black and be invisible.

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  3. What a wonderful post! I agree 100% with Ms. Carroll, make-up does give you that extra pep in your step! You go girl! I read your article on the Real Housewives. It was very good!

    Best!

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  4. Oh my. I bet Ms. Carroll would have A LOT to say to me! Hee hee

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  5. When a Lady speaks...I have to listen, to both of you!

    I know some days I'm like you, rockin my "comfy cozies", but there are days when I want to glam it up. It does make a difference in the way I "tip".

    Enjoy both, I say, go natural and go glam. Different days call for different looks. There's room for them both.

    ...liking myself either way is key, in my opinion.

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  6. You know Momma Migozo and Ms. Carroll are from the same school of thought- a lady should never leave the house without a little "enhancement". I now must admit that I totally agree- even if its just lipgloss. Thanks for the post because I have not been following either of their advice lately!

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  7. a girlfrind of mine is a MAC makeup artist and she has been dying for as long as we have been friends to get at my bare face.. I let her and the whole time she sounded like Ms. Carroll, and on her urging every now and again I don't go all out but I go thru the basics and it does make me feel better and people notice they don't notice the make up but they notice that I feel better about me and thats worth the extra wear on my skin I think, at least every now and again..

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  8. Well, I believe that a little make-up goes a long way. I try not to leave the house without mascara and some lipgloss. The lipgloss be poppin!

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  9. I agree with your mommy and Diahann Carroll. A little goes a long way. But getting all glamed up every now and then can make a girl feel good about herself, and even turn a few heads.

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  10. See, now you gonna make me go back and read through the interviews tonight, lol. I didn't even notice that you wrote that piece, but I DID notice your wonderful article on the Housewives. Loved it and what a very necessary piece I might add. DV is a running theme these days and so common that its sickening. Thanks for providing us the personal stories of Lisa and Nene.

    Now... about this whole make-up to like yourself thing, lol. I don't know if I really agree with Ms. Carroll on that one. I think that one should be able to like/love themselves with little effort. That one should not have to put on a different face just to be able to see the true them, you know. I don't know, that's just my view.

    With that said, I'm glad that you had fun getting all made up/taking a little time for "you" and happy to hear how much your family loved it.

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  11. Now see Ms. Bar? That's EXACTLY my philosophy--that I'm SO happy being Denene. I look in the mirror, and I'm happy with my face exactly the way it is--without all the extra. But the extra IS cute sometimes. For me, it's meant for special occasions, but there are a LOT of women who think it's necessary all the time. I don't know about all of that!

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  12. Wow! I'll buy it for sure! What a nice note. I need to wear more makeup! I get tired of it since I have to wear so much for work. I enjoyed this post, and can't wait to read the interview!

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  13. Very interestng. Like you my mom always told me not to wear makeup to preserve my skin. I still think there's some truth to that, but a little mascara and lip gloss does go a long way!

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  14. Very cool that you've met such amazing people. And if I follow the gorgeous Ms Carroll's thinking...then I must LOVE LOVE LOVE me because I slather the stuff on lol

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  15. Most mornings I have to chose between make-up or hair that is not pulled up in my tired ponytail! I do love the way I feel after I have put my face on. You should try the blackest black mascara by HIP. I used to be loyal to Maybeline before I tried it. Girl, I am addicted. My lashes look so long and thick when I use it. I have no idea how you do all that you do juggling career, family, blog ect. Keep it commin!

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  16. beautiful job!

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  17. Uhm, okay. Make up does not make me feel "more" anything. I usually forget I am wearing it. Happy you get something out of putting it on.

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