Interviews in Catalonia: Maria Rosa – Part 2

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Have have your ideas about beauty changed over the years?

 Now I go to the hairdresser. I dress in cheerful clothes (because then you wore black dresses). We have changed a lot. Now all women are equal, modern, athletic. Now there’s not much difference from German or French women. Before, a Spanish woman was immediately recognized. Not fixed up, nothing flirty she wore any old thing. Now it’s different. The woman who doesn’t go to a professional does makeup at home. I am 82 years old. In the past, I would have to wear black, be gloomy all day and pray the rosary.

 My maternal grandmother died at 72. She always wore all black. Also, if someone died you had to dress in black for 3 years. After that, you could wear something lighter….black with white polka dots for example. This was around the 1940s. When my grandmother died, I did this. I was 12 years old and wore black. The men would wear a black jacket or armband. Today people no longer mourn like this.

 Why do you think your ideas of beauty have changed?

 I’ve always been a rebel and thought that the things that they told me weren’t always true. They couldn’t be. I feel more comfortable with the modern way of thinking. Before a woman could not work. She had to “be home with the broken leg”. This was a saying that meant “with crutches” to keep her at home. Look at how crazy this is, I would say. But you have such liberal ideas, I would hear. I used to say that if a woman didn’t feel good with her husband, they should separate. People would tell me nothing in the world should make this happen. See now how many divorces there are now? I find it fantastic. Today I feel very comfortable with life.

Maria Rosa, 82

Pla de l’Estany, Catalonia


an Afro and a mini-skirt

What did beauty mean to you when you were in your 20s?

The way you dressed made you feel beautiful…mini-skirts was one of them. I liked to wear mini-skirts. Some people say that women dress for men, but I (have always) dress for myself. When I did dress up, I knew when I looked good…well, at least I thought I did. I knew I would get men’s attention. In my 20s, the Afro was in style. I don’t know that I thought it was beauty, but it was stylish. So I wore one sometimes. I didn’t use a whole lot of products – I still don’t – because to me that didn’t make you beautiful. I always liked some type of cologne. I would use products like Noxzema for acne.

What are your ideas of beauty now?

It’s more about what’s on the inside than on the outside now. Some people can really be very beautiful on the inside and not so much so on the outside. I think you have to get to know a person to know what beauty they hold. I can remember a time when I was probably in my 30s. There was a woman who worked at the shop where my husband and a bunch of other men worked. Everybody talked about how beautiful Betty was, and I thought Betty’s a dog. (laughs) Betty did not look good at all, but all the men thought she was just wonderful. I wondered what Betty had that the rest of us didn’t have. Talking to the guys, it wasn’t her outer beauty, it was her inner beauty. I’m surprised that the men saw that.

I don’t do any routines to be beautiful, maybe I should. I always use lotion or some type of moisturizer. I don’t necessarily do it for the sake of beauty. I don’t really have dry skin, but you know, you get ashy. That’s why I use it. I just make sure I take a bath, brush my teeth, comb my hair, try to look well. But I don’t care that I’m not the striking beauty.

Is there a change in your ideas of beauty?

There’s not really a change in how I think. I don’t think my thinking was the norm even when I was in my 20s, especially being black. From the images that black people see on TV and in ads and the things black people were told by their families or by white people, many of them started believing if you were black, you weren’t beautiful. On TV, you see blond hair and blue eyes. I think people think that that’s beautiful. Black people themselves thought that lighter complexions made you beautiful. That never bothered me. I never thought that, but the idea was prevalent. People say Oh, I don’t believe it, but then you look at TV and the ads and see it there. So people think, Oh, it must be true.

Lee, Ohio
Editor’s Note: I found the above Elle image in an interesting related blog post

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