Being brown and having a nice white dress…

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

Being brown, getting a sun-tan, and having a nice white dress. Crazy, isn’t it?

Did you go to the beach to get a tan?

No, I’d go out, get a towel and just lay down on the ground. And of course, I got skin cancer from that. But anyway, you pay a price. I got skin cancer when I was a little bit older.

I suppose you were nice and brown then?

Yes, I was cooked.

You said earlier that having good skin is more important than wearing make-up?

Yes, I believe that. You have to have your skin absolutely lubricated all the time. I don’t think that fancy products are much better than some of the other products. One of my mentors had one of the prettiest skins I’ve ever seen and she used…oh, what’s the grease that you cook with? Crisco. She used Crisco, and she had the most beautiful skin.

How did she use it…at night before going to sleep?

She just put it on her face, maybe a time or two during the day. I’m not right sure. But you know, it stands to reason. It’s supposed to be pure.

What does beauty mean to you now?

You have to have an outlook on life that’s agreeable, because you live with yourself. Nobody else can take care of you inside but yourself. And I believe in that. The more positive you are, the better you are.

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

Maturity. Because we know that I’m not going to look now like I looked when I was 20 or 25. There’s a man I know – physically, he’s not well and he’s been married before – but now he’s looking for a blond 25 year old. To me that would turn me off completely. If I’d grown up with him or known him, but to be 25 and look at something like that. No thank you.

My outlook…to be clean at all times, of course, and neat.

V., 83

San Francisco


“Maternity clothes were much different in the 50’s” – Interview #1

This first interview was graciously done by a friend of mine. It gave me a chance to work some of the bugs out and practice with my tiny tape recorder. I’m very thankful for my friend’s patience, sincerity and good sense of humor…

What did beauty mean to you when you were in your 20s? (this could relate to clothes, make-up, hair, diet, body, etc.)

From the time I got out of high school until I was 25 years old, my body was focused on having babies.  Married at 18 I had all three of my children by my mid twenties.  Maternity clothes were much different in the 1950’s…mostly skirts and smocks to hide your growing stomach.  People say you glow when you are pregnant. Lipstick was the only makeup I used.  During those years, diet was not an issue and after all my children I managed to get back in shape. My hair was usually permed and sometimes lightened.

What does beauty mean to you now?

Beauty is keeping your body healthy both inside and out.  Diet, Exercise and attitude are critical to a happy life – DANCE TO THE MUSIC!!

We are all obsessed with how we look when we look at ourselves in the mirror. I am very much into how I dress and how my hair looks. I am always thinking, what is that person looking at me thinking?

I’ll never forget waking up one morning when I was about 41 with my left pupil dilated. I thought my gosh, what could this be? It was Adie’s Pupil, which hits women over 35 for whatever reason. An eye surgeon explained it as a disconnection in the back of the eye. During this time, whenever I met people, I kept thinking,  I wonder what they’re thinking about my eye?

People do the same thing with people with disabilities. You overlook (physical) things when you’re really engaged. It’s not so much the physical as how you feel about them and how they respond to you.

In some cases, the way people dress is very provocative. You’ll see a lot of women, 60 and up, who still dress like maybe they’re in their 30s. That’s not attractive at all.

Hair color is another thing. I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve grayed like my mother. I’m happy with it, so I don’t have any reason to change it. So many people play around with different colors in their hair so every time you see them maybe it’s a different color or a different hair style. I see myself as a certain image. Even when I have my hair cut and the hairdresser does her thing (like this spiky stuff), I think no, that’s not me. I change it as soon as I get home.

I enjoy life. I have a great outlook, so I think I’m aging gracefully (laughs).

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

In my younger years I did hair color and was very into dressing. I took a psychology course one time with a very flamboyant instructor. One evening I wore a matching sweater and skirt in a soft orange. I was sitting near the front, and he looked at me and said, “Why do you wear pretty clothes?” And it was like oops. This was very embarrassing. To this day, I don’t even know what I responded to him. I was so shocked. But what he was intimating was that I wanted attention.

At this stage in life, I don’t want to draw attention to myself. I like to dress conservatively. I don’t wear a lot of make-up. When I do wear make-up, a lot of people will tell  me how nice I look, but just ordinarily, I don’t put on make-up every morning.

(Beauty means) maturity, life experiences, priorities, loving who you are and caring about others…I met a woman once who was over 100 years old and terribly crippled with arthritis.  She lived in her own home with some help from outside.  We had a great conversation about her life.  Her mind was sharp, her eyes sparkled and  she had the warmest smile.


What do you see in the culture of what is considered beautiful (from magazines, television, etc)?

What I see in magazines and so forth is not anything near my age or my desires. Every magazine I pick up is targeting younger (women), like Oprah Winfrey’s magazine. If it isn’t an advertisement, it’s these skinny models (although she does cover some feature stories). Even Ladies’ Home Journal is geared toward women in their 30s and 40s.

At one time, I tried to email Oprah because all of her programs were geared to women 60 and under, where they do make-overs and so forth. They don’t really cover a lot of issues with older women who are widowed. You look in the audience of Oprah and Ellen Degeneres and they’re all very young. I guess that’s where the advertisers make their money, with the younger generations. I don’t feel left out or anything. It’s just interesting to me to see how the values are set on that age group of people.

Anonymous, 70´s

San Francisco

%d bloggers like this: