Actually my idea of beauty was formed during my teenage years by movies, movie magazines and the daily cartoons in the newspaper. I followed the adventures of Brenda Starr, ace reporter, in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Oh she seemed to live a more exciting life than my mother and aunts! Brenda was tall with flaming red hair, feisty and bright. She was a reporter who traveled the world and had many handsome men falling in love with her. One man whom she deeply loved was the mystery man, Basil St. John, who always sent her rare black orchids. This type of romantic life appealed to me more than raising a family, scrubbing floors, washing and drying dishes, etc., which was my job as I grew up in a large family with seven children.
When I was 22 years old I left Pittsburgh for Santa Monica, California with a girl friend. The expression at that time was that it was like “ leaving black and white for technicolor.” I left a city of steel mills and soot for a new world–Los Angeles and Hollywood. Santa Monica was a true paradise with its sunny beaches and palm trees. It was also a frequent hangout for many of the Hollywood stars. It was here that I found most people were interested in healthy foods and physical beauty. This was so different from my life in Pittsburgh.
I married when I was 24 years old and within two years moved down to San Diego. I studied figure drawing and painting. Many of the models were female nudes–mostly slender and beautiful. In order to learn more about makeup and fashion, I signed up for a charm course. I wore a long blonde fall (hairpiece) and tied a red,white and blue sash around my head. I wore a navy blouse and miniskirt, a long white vest and white go-go boots. What a costume!
What Does Beauty Mean to You Now?
Today I still value physical beauty because I certainly try to keep in good shape, eat healthy foods and exercise. I try to balance my life by taking care of myself and at the same time continue to draw and paint and learn how to play the piano.
There was no emphasis on physical beauty or education in my childhood. These are the values that seemed to be intrinsic to me alone. However I was fortunate to have a family with strong morals. For that I am thankful.
If Different, Why Have Your Ideas About Beauty Changed Over the Years?
My idea of “beauty” hasn’t changed so much as it has been “expanded.” I see great beauty in someone who is strong as she faces adversity. Or a person can also appear more beautiful if she has a fine sense of humor.
It was Brenda’s physical beauty that first attracted me as a teenager but in the long run, it was her intelligence, her values, her sense of adventure and personality that continues to attract me.
As an artist I have painted several large canvases with Brenda Starr and placed her in exotic environments depicting her romance and adventure with the mystery man. Brenda will always be my heroine …….my alter ego.
And she never got wrinkles!!!
Mary Lou, 72