For most people, their introduction to beauty and wellness is through someone they love. Last week, Kat went home to North Carolina to visit her mother Deborah, aka "Mama D." She spent some time playing with her mom's makeup, as she's done since she was a kid, and the two got to talking about self care and the memories they share through beauty.
Kat: Mom, I feel like my first memories of us bonding are of me coming into your bathroom and playing with all of your products. You've just always kind of made this luxurious respite in your choice of bathroom design and decor.
Mama D: I really appreciate that you noticed that. My bathroom has always been my escape. I always wanted it to be welcoming, relaxing and inviting because it was the only place in the whole house that I thought it was just mine, even though there was a period of time when I shared it with somebody. I have for I can not tell you how many years, taken a bath every single day. Not a shower, a bath.
K: Me too! I totally take a bath every day. I don’t know if I got that from you or if that’s just something I really enjoy. I think I just like sitting down, to be honest.
D: I do too. I don’t put cucumbers over my eyes or put a mask on or anything like that. But I do relax. You and I were both blessed by genetics with good skin.
K: Yeah, yeah...
D: Even if we didn’t use all the moisturizer and the sea salt and all that stuff, we would probably still have soft skin. But why not nourish it and and make it last even longer. Who knows. I mean at my age...I’ll be 67 in November.
K: Well you don’t look 67 to me. Or to most people
D: I turned on the television today to The Ellen Show and I hadn’t seen her in like 15 years. And she says she’s getting ready to turn 60. I’m thinking, how’d you get so old?!? Then I’m like...oh wait.
K: Wait, that’s actually really, really surprising. I think that says something about the energy y’all carry, how it’s more of an indication of your age than your appearance. I don’t know if you would take this as insult, me comparing you to Ellen. But like people like her and think of her as a young person.
D: Oh I love her. I just don’t get to watch. You know, she’s just a kid to me, and that is because of her energy. She’s just got that vibrancy about her, and she doesn’t slow down. I hope that I can continue being like that for years to come. I’ve got a lot to live for, a lot of babies, a lot of future babies to come. You know what I mean. Grandbabies, okay?
K: Haha yes, I know.
D: You said something about the products I use. I’ve never been one to just buy anything or buy a fad or something. I go from recommendations from people who sell products that I trust. So a lot of things that you saw in my bathroom when you were here were Beauticontrol and Arbonne. But I don't go around and do parties or things like that.
K: I don’t know if it’s like a generational thing, or because the Avon lady has been so spoofed and satirized at this point, but there is a stigma against those salesperson-driven brand. I think a lot of people think of them like they’re a ponzi scheme where people are incented to push their product on you because you're a housewife that has extra money laying around. Or something.
D: I just see my friends, and they'll say “well try this.” If I like it I’ll buy some, and if it doesn't work then I get my money back.
K: I do like personalizing things. It makes a difference. Part of why we wanted to start this blog was because we felt like a lot of beauty blogs were just blindly selling things to people. It's nice to have a dialogue. There’s a level of trust because you’re just friends talking. No one at the end of the day is getting rich off of it.
D: And nobody's offended, and you don’t buy stuff you don’t need.
K: But...you have so much stuff though.
D: Okay, okay I meant in general. Do you remember when you were little I would go to the Lancome counter and if you buy $50 worth of stuff you'd get all those free products?
K: Oh my god, yeah, they would give you a huge bag, and then there would be like a bag within a bag....
K: Growing up I had a huge makeup stash and it was all just hand-me-down stuff from you.
D: I know.
K: I think I had actual backpacks full of nail polish that I probably still have to this day.
K: They were all different shades of dark pink. It wasn't even like I had ridded you of your everyday, go-to products. There was just so much. I think things find you. You're like the gift bag queen. You go to so many events and know so many people that you're bound to come home with a bunch of stuff.
D: You're so right on that. I a member of The Business Professional Women's Association of North Carolina, The Triangle Ladies Power Lunch, The National Association of Women Business Owners, the Women Business Owners of Cary...it goes on and on and on. And a lot of these have vendor tables. I don't even go to the Estee Lauder or the Lancome counter or any of that anymore. But once a month I do have a jade facial.
K: Whoa…what is that?
D: It stimulates your collagen growth. It's a facial but it uses these metal electrodes, and they use this cream that's enhanced with frankincense. Oh it’s just divine. That and taking a bath are what I do for myself. Oh, and doing my nails.
K: I was gonna say, you’ve pretty much gotten your nails done every 3-4 weeks for the last 25 years, at least.
D: Hahaha okay, yes, you're right.
K: But it’s something that you do as a form of self care to make yourself feel good after all the things you do for other people. You can go in and there's a moment where you're like, “someone's doing something for me that’s gonna make, however small, an impact on my life in some way.” Which is nice.
D: Yeah, and my nails always look pretty good. It makes me feel like I'm presentable. I was in engineering when you were a little baby, and I was working with this engineer and he looked at my hands and he said, “Do you ever do your nails?” I said, “When I have time.” And he said, “You should take time.”
D: I thought it was funny coming from a man.
K: Didn't you think that was kind of offensive? I mean if someone said that to me I'd be like “Just for that I’m never doing my nails again.”
D: Well he was a friend so I wasn't offended. It would be like Moe telling you something.
K: Actually Moe did say something like that to me one time. I got my eyebrows done once in college and then afterwards Moe was like “it was about time.” Now literally every time my eyebrows get out of hand, I think about that moment. I don't wanna encourage people to be insecure the way I am, but it sticks with you.
D: It does. I've never cared too much about what other people think of me. But that's when I started going. You were too little to sit there while I got them done.
K: Uhhh that’s not how I remember it. I know for a fact there were several times I would be sitting in that salon in Garner reading all the magazines.
D: No that was different. That was later on.
K: It’s so funny how my memory is tied to you when I think about beauty. That’s probably true for most women, imagining their mother and wanting to be like her. But sitting in the waiting area I would get so bored.
D: We got your dress altered in that shopping center. That dress for the–
K: For the pageant I was in.
D: Oh golly we've done a lot of fun things.
K: That is one of my best beauty memories, and a really good example of your energy. I was in this pageant the summer before I started 7th grade, and we got there on the day of the main event. And we had forgotten the foam curlers at home. Do you remember that?
D: Oh yeah, I remember.
K: The curls were, like, the main part of my entire look. And we didn’t even bring a curling iron.
D: Right, right.
K: So we’re in the hotel bathroom of the Sheraton in Downtown Raleigh, and you start ripping up strips of toilet paper, and rolling my hair up in little pieces and then tying it at the end. I just stood in the back of the shower for like 15 minutes, steamed it, sprayed it completely down with hairspray. To this day, when I show people those pictures I always get complimented on my hair. It doesn't make any sense.
K: I’m like, this was literally made from Angel Soft.
D: We've got a picture of you with your hair rolled up in the toilet paper.
K: I remember that picture. It's quite iconic actually because I'm wearing the blue robe that you used to wear.
D: Still wear it.
K: Do you seriously?
D: I'm not kidding. If we were doing Facetime I would show you it’s hanging in my shower stall.
K: If you're ever getting rid of that I lay claim to it. I am the heir to the robe.
D: You can have it baby. You know when i bought that? Brandon was a baby.
K: It’'s been washed so many times I can't believe it's intact.
D: Oh yeah, it’s threadbare in places but I don’t care. It feels wonderful.
K: You’re always in a robe. That’s kinda your thing.
D: It is! And if I were gonna be buried, which i'm not–
K: You're gonna be stuffed and we’re gonna hang you in my apartment. Just kidding.
D: No, no, I want my body donated to science.
K: I think that's a great idea. But you’re saying if you were gonna be buried you'd wanna be buried...
D: In my robe!
K: You remember how every morning you used to drive to my school wearing those curlers in your hair. What are those called? Those big fat ones.
D: They were velcro curlers.
K: I love those. I tried to use them on my hair once like as a gimmick three or four years ago. It didn't work with my hair texture at all. It stayed in for like two seconds.
D: No, really?
K: I probably just didn't know how to use them correctly.
D: Oh. Well there's always toilet paper.
K: I’m realizing how integral beauty stuff really is to my vision of you as a mom. When I come to your house and I take a bath with the jets going...that's like me stepping into your shoes a little bit.
K: There’s something very regal about it don't you think?
D: I do.
K: Especially with the way you set it up. You always have a chair in front of your vanity. And you made sure when I was a kid that I had one. Do you remember the Fisher Price vanity?
D: Of course I do! It was pink and white.
K: It basically had makeup all over it by the time we threw it out in the mid 2000s.
D: Haha I think I tried to give it to [your niece] Sydney.
K: And they were like, “This is an actual piece of garbage how dare you.” And you were like, “Um it has sentimental value. Thanks.”
D: For real.
K: I haven't totally followed in your footsteps. I don't get my nails done on a regular basis, and when I do I chip them on the first day. I don't understand how you do so many things with your tips that I can barely do with my regular fingers.
D: It's a learned ability.
K: Plus I just have man hands.
D: Thank you. Those are mine. Your grandmother has man hands. We just do.
K: We are a Man Hand Family.
D: But my mother will tell us that we were meant to have babies and be farm girls workin’ the garden.
K: Yeah, that definitely fits my body type.
D: You got a great body type, girl.
K: Aww you are so sweet. So do you. It has been so illuminating to stroll down memory lane with you. In our relationship there’s always been an element of pampering. I guess that’s a totally normal in every species, parents grooming their children and then passing on those habits and rituals to their offspring.
D: Self care!
D: So often women opt to care for everybody else other than themselves. It would have been so easy with all of the children, with all of the responsibility that I had to give up everything.
K: It is important to make sure you have time for yourself when you can. Even if it's just little things that make you feel good.
D: I have one last thing to share. I think you'll get a warm heart and a big smile out of it. As a nana I’m passing on this same ritual to the three granddaughters. Tomorrow morning I’m taking them to a spa and there will be little robes for all of them. We’re doing facials!
K: Oh my god that is the most perfect thing!
D: I'll have pictures taken and send them to you.
K: That sounds so good, I can't wait. Mom, I love you so much.