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

Rosa

The next small series of interviews are my last from San Francisco. These were originally done in Spanish (the Spanish text follows this English translation).

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

Cashew Fruit (nut on top)

[My beauty care] was natural because I was poor and did not know about creams. Then I drank only water and ate fruit. Everything which I ate was healthy because I grew up in Nicaragua’s countryside, in a tropical climate. I bathed everyday and sometimes twice because of the heat. I had a very clean skin given all this. I never used any cream. Until I married and my husband asked me to cut my hair [as it was fitting] for my better life. But I have always been proud of my hygienic habits. I am 80. I attribute this [i.e. my advanced age] to how one takes care of the body throughout life.

In addition I also exercise. In the last 10 years I have exercised here but now my knee limits my workout. But I always exercise. And I eat a very healthy diet. I do not smoke nor drink any liquor. Sometimes I have a beer when I go to Mexico because I do not decline anything there.

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

I take care of myself more now than when I was young. Even here, I watch fashion shows at 80 and imagine myself walking down the runway, proud of myself.

Now I am going to do the same as when I was 20. And now I think more about dresses. I like going to the movies. And this change helps me.

There in Nicaragua I lived in the countryside. When I lived here I had five children and could not think of fashion. We had to pay for our kids’ schooling. There was no money for myself, just to cover the basics.  I did not spend much money, I could only afford some cream now and then, and that is all.

Now I have more money and I even pay for massage. I am rich. I like keeping up with fashion and dressing up charmingly. I take better care of myself.

I have three daughters and they help me dress up. They buy me clothes.

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

Era natural porque era pobre y no conocerá crema. Entonces yo tomaba agua. Comía fruta. Todo era saludable lo que comía porque me crié en campo en Nicaragua en una clima tropical. Entonces se baña todos los día y a veces dos veces por el calor. Y con la piel limpia y esta parece me ayuda. Pero nunca usé crema. Hasta me casé y mi esposo me mando cortarme el pelo para mi vida mejor. Pero siempre yo he vivido orgullosa de mi cultiva de limpia. Tengo 80 años. Yo atribuye a eso a lo que hace uno antes a mi se cuida el cuerpo.

Después de eso, hago ejercicio. Por 10 años hago ejercicio aquí pero ahora solo tengo un poquito la rodilla. Pero siempre hago ejercicio. Y como muy saludable. No fumo. No tomo licor. A veces, tomo una cerveza pero cuando voy a México porque no le hago asco a nada.

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

Me cuida más ahora que cuando era joven. Hasta lo he sido aquí, miro los desfile de moda ahora a los ochenta y me imagino caminando orgullosa de mi.

Ahora voy a hacer lo mismo que cuando 20 años. Y ahora pienso más en los vestidos. Me gusta ir al cine. Y este cambio me ayuda.

Allá en Nicaragua, vivía en el campo. Cuando vivía aquí, tenía cinco hijos y no podía (pensar en moda). Tenemos que pagar a la escuela. No había dinero para mí. Vivía con los básicos. Y esta me ayuda porque esta contribuye en mis comprabas. No gastaba mucho dinero, solo me ponía alguna crema y nada mas.

Ahora tengo mas dinero y hasta pago para que me hagan masaje. Quedo rico. Tengo mas agudamente para modérame. Me gusta estar al día y vestirme, con mas charm y tengo un poco mas de cuidado.

Tengo tres hijas mujeres y ellas me ayudan a vestirme. Ellas me compran la ropa.

Rosa, 80

San Francisco

Ideals change with each phase of life

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

Beauty meant being thin, attractive and “sexy”. Of course, I was looking to marry and have children so being those things helped to insure I’d find a spouse and have children. Although, there were beauties such as Sophia Loren, her self-proclaimed “uneven features”, Audrey Hepburn who wrote that “true beauty comes from her soul” and Helen Hayes whom broke the mold on traditional beauty.  Their presence taught me that true beauty did indeed run more than skin deep.

What does beauty mean to you now?

It is a type of gracefulness, dignity and confidence. The inner person is now more important than the outer shell. Although we are to take good care of ourselves which includes feeling good about ourselves at every stage of life.

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

I am no longer young and don’t have to be concerned with hooking a husband and having children, been there and done that. Life has it’s phases, just as it should be.  Ideals change with each phase of life. Of course, I still enjoy looking as beautiful as I can and enjoy looking at beautiful people just as I enjoy looking at everything else that is beautiful.

Elizabeth, 55

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