When I was very little, I thought my mother was the most beautiful woman in the world.
She was more beautiful than Dorothy, more beautiful than the Childlike Empress, more beautiful than Cinderella or Ariel. I never noticed a difference between the mom who was at home with me all day, wearing no makeup and a faded denim dress, and the one who got dressed up to go out with my dad and leave me to a babysitter.
My earliest memories are of watching my mom get ready. They’re of the makeup on the bathroom counter, shiny boxes of black and silver, and sitting beside her to watch her apply it. They’re of her perfume bottles: Chanel No. 5 and Dior Poison. They’re of the way she smelled: Lubriderm lotion and cigarette smoke, or cashmere and pearls and perfume. I remember being picked up by her and smelling that mysterious, adult perfume coming from her skin and thinking that when I grew up, I was going to be just like that.
Everything I know about beauty I learned from my mother.
While my brother is a carbon-copy of my dad, I take characteristics from both parents. I always complain that I got the worst of our genes: the bad eyesight, the hair that is neither curly nor straight, the Norwegian sturdy legs and thighs. I’m being dramatic. I also got the bluest eyes.
People will say I look like my mother, but that’s only a trick of the light.
When I fill in my eyebrows every day of my life, I’m only mimicking what I’ve seen her do. When I buy Lancome mascara, it’s only because that’s the one she buys. I tried to wear Chanel No. 5 like her, but I guess I’m not quite ready for it yet. So I bought the “younger” version. I realized one day that I do my makeup exactly like my mom does hers. I use coppers and golds and sable brown shadows because that’s what she used to enhance her eyes, which are lighter than mine but still as radiantly blue. I bought a bottle of Dior Poison once solely to spray it in the air and pretend I’m child Kara watching my mom and dad leave for dinner. I still want to be her.
I look at old pictures when I’m home of my mother all vamped up for a wedding in a black dress that almost fits me now (my boobs are too big). Or at her own wedding, with dewy skin and a big gauzy hat. She’s always looked mostly the same: short, wavy hair, lots of mascara and tan skin. Every little girl wants to look like her mom when she grows up, and I’m lucky that I still do.
Now that I’m an adult and not that wide-eyed child, my relationship with my mother has changed. I can send her lipsticks she’ll like, or tell her which jeans to buy. It’s just one of the things we bond over; she hates my country music and black bras, but she trusts my opinion on lipstick and skincare. I talk to her all day long. None of my friends talk to their mothers as much as I do, but I don’t mind. (Usually.) People throw around the whole “My mom is my best friend,” but mine really is.