Conchita

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

I have always liked to dance and have always been a happy person. Thank God I am not a high-strung person. I have always liked going out and traveling. I have taken advantage of everything offered to me . I have also had my moments of stress, like when my dad died. But God has given me the grace and spirit to be able to take difficult things in. That is why I have had a happy life. And I have liked helping people very much. When I was young I visited people in hospitals – those who had no visitors – to feed them their meals. I took meals to operating rooms. If someone needed surgery I would look for a friend surgeon to operate on him/her because perhaps it was someone who did not have any money. I did all that and felt pleased with how I helped.

My mom knew that I liked all that, but she never told me to do it. She would tell me to be careful because I was young and I could get a disease. I never took that into account. I liked doing charity work and helping the poor. I would try to help anyone who needed help. That has been my life and I feel pleased with it. I have grown older but continue to do the same. I am 89 and have been a volunteer here at the 30th Street Senior Center for 21 years, where I can help people and give them anything they need.

What does beauty mean to you now?

It is very different now. Young people do not dress up. In my time people dressed up. One tried to have a good appearance. There were other fashions. I was someone who never wore pants. I got to the US and women wore them, but not me. To this day, I do not like them.

If different, why have your ideas changed?

I wake up and then I have breakfast. But the first thing I do (is dress myself up) because one wakes up and looks at herself in the mirror and gets disappointed. All my life—given the advice of my mother, God keep her—from the day I married I would always be dressed up when my husband came home. In the street he could see many beautiful girls dressed up and when he came home, my mom said, if he saw his woman not dressed up, he would be disappointed. So that was my mom’s advice. She told me that when your husband comes home he should always find you attractive and not be disappointed. Otherwise in the street he sees so many beautiful girls and suddenly he gets home and his wife is not well dressed?!

My husband died when I was 64. He was my husband for life.

I have always dressed up and I feel uncomfortable when I see people who don’t, especially young girls. But they have youth’s beauty. An older woman needs to dress up because she no longer has the beauty of youth. That is my advice. I see women who say, “Why should I dress up since I am already old?” That is a mistake.

I feel satisfied of how I have lived my life. God has blessed me and encouraged me. Above all, to date and at my age –  blessed be my Father – I have never had surgery. The only time I was in the hospital was when I had my children. So until – now thanks be to God – I have not been there for any other reason.

¿Qué significó para Ud. la belleza cuando tenía 20-29 años?

A mi me ha gustado el baile toda la vida he sido muy alegre. Por suerte nunca he tenido mal carácter siempre me ha gustado salir, viajar y todo lo que se me ha presentado en la vida que yo puedo hacerlo lo he hecho. He tenido mi impresiones también, cuando mi madre murió. Pero dios me ha dado lo satisfacción y el espíritu de ver las cosas mas suaves. Por eso mi vida ha sido muy alegre toda mi vida. Y me ha gustado mucho ayudar, fui cuando era joven a los hospitales a darle su comidita a la gente que no tenia quien le fuera a ver. Le he llevado comida a las salas de operaciones. Si alguien se tenia que operar yo buscaba algún amigo medico para que lo operara porque tal vez era una persona que no tenia dinero y todo eso hice y todo eso fue una satisfacción para mi.

Mi madre sabia que a mi me gustaba todo eso pero nunca me dijo que no lo hiciera. Me decía que tuviera precauciones porque era joven y las enfermedades me podían pasar pero yo nunca tuve en cuenta eso. Porque a mi me gustaba hacer caridad y ayudar al pobre, a todo el prójimo que necesitaba algo yo traba de ayudarle. Eso ha sido mi vida y ha sido una satisfacción y luego he llegado a mis años y soy lo mismo en esta forma tengo ya 89 años y 21 años de ser voluntaria de aqui del centro de la 30 donde me gusto mucho también para ayudar y darle a la gente todo.

¿Qué significa para Ud. La belleza ahora?

Es muy diferente, la juventud ahora no se arreglan. Antes había otros tiempos y la gente se arreglaba mas. Antes uno trataba de estar bien arregladito. Las modas del pasado, yo fui una persona que jamas he usado pantalón. Llegue a los Estado Unidos y usaban pantalón pero yo nunca. Nunca me ha gustado hasta hoy.

Si es diferente, ¿por qué han cambiado con los años sus ideas sobre la belleza?

Yo me despierto y después me voy a tomar mi desayuno. Pero lo primero que yo hago porque uno se despierta y se mira en el espejo y se decepciona entonces yo toda la vida, fue consejo de mi madre, que en gloria la tenga, que el día que me casara nunca me faltara estar arreglada cuando mi esposo iba a llegar a la casa porque en la calle veía muchas muchachas guapas arregladas y todo y volver a su casa me decía ella y ver a su señora que va a estar toda (señas), se decepciona. De manera que eso es consejo de mi madre que me dijo que cuando llegue su marido que siempre la encuentre bonita para que no tenga ninguna decepción. En la calle ve tantas bonita y de repente llega a la casa y esta mal arreglada.

Mi esposo falleció cuando yo tenia 64 años, fue mi esposo toda una vida.

Yo siempre me he arreglado y me da no se que ver que no se arreglen la juventud pero tienen la belleza de la juventud. Una persona mayor necesita arreglarse porque no tiene la belleza de la juventud, ese es mi consejo. Veo personas que dicen para que me voy a arreglar si ya estoy vieja. Eso es un error.

Me siento satisfecha de como he pasado mi vida que dios me ha bendecido en ser alentada sobre todo porque hasta la fecha, mis años, bendito sea mi padre yo nunca he tenido una operación. La única vez que estado en el hospital fue solo cuando he tenido a mis hijos, hasta el momento gracias a dios nunca.

Concepción – “Conchita”, 89

San Francisco

Ana Mercedes

What was the importance of beauty for you when you were in your 20s?

When I was 25, I lived in Puerto Rico. Beauty meant being attractive to be able to conquer and feel proud. With the little I had I tried to put on my best. To stand straight and show my waistline. I had beautiful straight hair and tried to take good care of it. I was very shy. I did not put on much makeup but always used perfume. My dress style was not eccentric. My dresses were different, simple and made by hand; my mom had them sewed by a dressmaker and they fit me well. I liked bright red and green, but now I like soft colors and not red. White, gray, and pastel colors.

What does beauty mean to you now?

Beauty means keeping elegant and showing off my figure. Hair always taken care of; now I need to dye it and take better care of it. I like buying clothes and shoes. I like dressing simply but well. Simple makeup as well.

If different, why over time have your ideas about beauty changed?

Moneywise there is also a difference because in earlier times one could not afford luxuries and now it is different because one has the possibility of having better things. Fashion has changed but I am not an eccentric dresser, nor do I put on fake eyelashes. The difference is that before I had money to buy clothes. I am always the same…I want to take care of myself, to feel beautiful, but not to make someone else feel good but to make myself feel well.

¿Qué significó para Ud. la belleza cuando tenía 20-29 años?

Cuando yo tenía 25 años yo estaba en Puerto Rico. La belleza significaba estar atractiva para conquistar y para sentirme orgullosa. Con lo poco que tenia trataba de ponerme lo mejor que tenia. Estar erguida marcar la cinturita. Yo tenía un pelo muy bonito liso y trataba de mantenerlo bien. Era muy tímida. No me maquillaba mucho pero usaba siempre perfume. Vestida no era excéntrica. Era distinto, el vestido era sencillo hecho por costurera casera, mi mama lo mandaba hacer a una costurera, bien entalladitos. Los colores eran tenues a mi me gustaba el rojo y el verde, los colores vivos pero ahora me gustan los colores tenues, el rojo no. El blanco, gris, colores pastel.

¿Qué significa para Ud. La belleza ahora?

La belleza significa mantenerme elegante y lucir bien. El cabello siempre bien, ahora necesito teñirme y cuidarlo mas. Me gusta comprarme ropa y zapatos. Me gusta vestirme simple pero bien. El maquillaje simple también.

Si es diferente, ¿por qué han cambiado con los años sus ideas sobre la belleza?

Económicamente también hay una diferencia porque en los tiempo de antes uno no se podía comprar lujos ahora es diferente porque uno tiene la posibilidad de tener mejores cosas. La moda ha cambiado pero yo no soy excéntrica al vestirme, ni ponerme pestañas postizas. La diferencia es que antes no tenia el dinero para comprar prendas. Igual yo siempre igual, quiero mantenerme bien, quiero sentirme bella, pero no para hacer sentir bien a alguien sino sentirme bien yo.

Ana Mercedes, 78

San Francisco

 

Griselda de Guadalajara

What did beauty mean to you when you were 20-29?

Well, beauty is not as interesting as they make it to be. Character also counts….to be able to speak with other people easily. I have always liked dressing up and now too, although I am an old woman. My hair was always very straight and I would do perms and dress up in the style of the time, dresses down to my knees and beautiful blouses.

My family was poor and so I did not enjoy any luxuries but more or less we could eat well. We had a good time. We went to the movies and to dances behind dad’s back. We had a great time, with my little sisters. At that time we lived in Guadalajara. Until I was 17 I lived in Mexico and then I came to live here. Because here lived my grandma and my brother. Then I found work in a sewing factory and could enjoy life because I worked and had money and could help my dad because he had a big family. Then I packed cookies (as a job) and took care of my children at home, because I was married

How important is beauty to you now? If different, why have your ideas of beauty  changed over the years?

Fashion was very different here, people wore hats and fur coats.

But it has now changed so much. Now everyone wears pants, including me, after exercising. With diabetes I cannot go to dances anymore because there are too many temptations, cakes which I cannot eat. Before I could not go because they would not let me and now because of diabetes.

My children take me out to the movies. They take me to the beach in Sausalito.

¿Qué significó para Ud. la belleza cuando tenía 20-29 años?

Bueno la belleza no es tan interesante también hay que ver el carácter, poder hablar uno con otras persona con facilidad. Me ha gustado arreglarme y ahora también por mas que este mayor. Mi pelo siempre estaba muy lacio y me hacia permanentes y vestidos lo que se usaba en ese tiempo, vestidos regulares hasta la rodilla y blusas bonitas. Mi familia era pobre asíque yo no tenia lujos pero mas o menos teníamos para comer bien. La pasábamos bien, íbamos al cine y a los bailes a escondidas de mi papá. La pasábamos bien con mis hermanitas. En ese tiempo vivíamos en Guadalajara.

Hasta los 17 años viví en México y después me vine a vivir aquí. Porque aquí vivía mi abuelita y mi hermano. Después encontré trabajo en una fabrica de costura y pues aquí goce porque yo ya trabajaba y tenia dinero y ayudaba a mi padre porque tenia una familia muy grande. Después empaquetando galletas y después cuidando niños en mi casa, porque me casé.

¿Qué significa para Ud. la belleza ahora? Si es diferente, ¿por qué han cambiado con los años sus ideas sobre la belleza?

La moda era muy distinta aquí, la gente iba de sombreros y pieles. Hasta en los colectivos.

Pero la ha cambiado tanto ahora anda todo el mundo en pantalones, incluso yo que vengo de hacer mis ejercicios. Con la diabetes no puedo ir mas a los bailes porque hay tentaciones hay muchos pasteles y yo no los puedo comer. Antes no podía ir porque no me dejaban y ahora por la diabetes.

Mis hijos me llevan a pasear, al cine. Me llevan a la playa a Sausalito

Griselda,82

San Francisco

Lauren, age 6

What makes ladies beautiful?

Their smile.

What else?

That they have pretty clothes on.

What do they look like?

Like your clothes.

Would they be pretty colors?

Yes, pretty colors. Red, purple, orange, blue, green or yellow.

Is there anything else that you think would be really pretty?

What you have inside.

Like what?

If you like something and your friend says, “Hey, you’re copying me,” it’s because you like the picture. You make a pretty picture from inside and your friend likes it too.

Is there one beautiful or pretty lady you can think of?

My mom, Mrs. Murphy (my teacher), and you.

Thank you. What makes your mom a beautiful lady?

She dresses pretty and she has a smile and she loves me.

What do you think is pretty or beautiful about you?

That I like myself and I like my friends. And my dressing.

Lauren, 6

Ohio

rope ladder and the Revlon cosmetic bag

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

We all related to the media and to movie stars. We all emulated them, trying to look our best. In my early 20s, we were at war. It was WWII, and I enlisted as an army nurse. When I enlisted, they were encouraging nurses to join the army. So they said they would give you a free overcoat and a Revlon cosmetic bag.

Cosmetic bags at that point were very popular. They were like little suitcases with a mirror inside, maybe 14” by 18”. Revlon produced the cosmetic bags. We as a group of nurses, every place we traveled, the cosmetic bag went with us. In certain places, we had to climb up and down a rope ladder to get on a ship, and the cosmetic bag was in one hand. In the cosmetic bag, I’m sure we had rouge, lipstick and powder – those were the things we used then. Maybe hairbrushes and bobby pins. That cosmetic bag went everywhere.

In terms of beauty, you were just trying to look your best all through life. Afterward, I raised a family and then worked as a nurse. You were so busy, but you just tried to look your best all the time. I don’t think there are any special beauty tricks. I never plucked my eyebrows or used mascara. I tried mascara but I didn’t like the feel of it.

In those days working as a nurse in the hospital, we wore white uniforms and white oxford shoes. I wish that was true today. I think the clothing nurses wear is very demeaning to their status and what they do. We wore white uniforms all the time, working 48 hours a week and then having a family on the weekend.

In those days, we didn’t have many clothes…maybe one or two dresses, a couple of skirts and that’s it. High heels were always important to me. When I was young, I was considered to have flat feet. My mother took me to a clinic where they used to strap your feet with adhesive. Then you get fitted for special arches to put in your shoes.

When I reached 16 or 17 (at nursing school away from home), the first thing I did was to go out and buy a pair of pumps. In the summer, the pumps that were popular were either black and white, navy blue and white or brown and white. The tip and back were colored. The rest was white. Spectator pumps, we used to call them. When you wore your spectator pumps, you really felt like the cat’s meow.

I never used much make-up. In the 1960s, everybody was piercing their ears. As nurses you were not allowed to wear jewelry. It was very strict. My children and their friends encouraged me, and so I pierced my ears myself which was crazy. I tried to hide the piercing with my hair when I came into work. My boss scrutinized me and saw it. I was reprimanded. I wasn’t allowed to wear the earrings but I left something in (to keep the hole open).

When I was young, we all wanted to look like Lauren Bacall. She wore her hair on the side in a page-boy. That didn’t quite work for me. In the hospital, you had to wear your hair shoulder-length. I was a brunette. As the hair started to fade, I decided to use a tint in my hair because I thought my hair was mousy. I’ve been using a tint ever since. Maybe that’s how I get away with being percepted as younger.

What does beauty mean to you now?

As you get into your 80s, your eyebrows start to disappear. I won’t pluck my eyebrows but I draw them in a little bit. I use eyeliner, and I think that enhances (although it smudges during the day). As far as my skin goes, everyday after I shower, I use lotion on legs and arms. I’ve been using aloe vera gel on my face. I don’t use nail polish because when you work in art, it’s really hard on the nails. If there’s anything I hate, it’s seeing chipped colored nail polish.

If different, why have your ideas about beauty changed over the years?

My youngest daughter is really into fashion. I think being around young people has kept me more contemporary. I want to be stylish. I want to be a knock-out if I can. I don’t buy that many clothes. I work with what I have.

Emily, 88

San Francisco

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