Learning Beauty, Italian Style
Years ago—more years than I like to tell myself—I lived in Rome. And if you know anything about Rome, you know that every cliché is true: The pasta is that good, the pizza is that good, too, the city is a museum, the laundry hanging from the lines really is how they dry their clothes, and an Italian would run over his nonna for a properly ripened tomato.
But the cliché that really fascinated me was the one about getting dressed. You know the old adage that American women look in the mirror and remove one accessory? And Italian women look in the mirror and put on another one? Don’t believe it. They put on five more. Six on a big night. Plus eyeliner—top, bottom, inside, outside, winged, smudged. Also gobs of mascara, bronzer, blush, some more bronzer, and a few swipes of glossy, bright cherry/red/pink/doesn’t-matter-as-long-as-it’s-fiery lipstick. (If there is a pinkish-beige lip color anywhere in the city, I never saw it.) And I haven’t even gotten to hair. My point is: In a place where the city hall was designed by Michelangelo, subtlety is hardly a virtue.
Somehow, these women, these Sirens that swarmed the city (and, I would soon learn, the whole country), always looked sexy as hell. Their skin glowed, their jewelry clanked as they walked, their hair swung defiantly behind them. I always imagined their lives were as exciting and hot-tempered as their eyeliner. They always looked like they had just left their apartment after a fight with a lover.
And I wanted in.
Shortly after I moved to Trastevere, I became an Italian—if not in citizenship, then at least in hair products. I learned the nuances of wearing mousse and styling lotion together. My hair was wavy and wild, and I didn’t touch an elastic for months. I wore smoky black eyeliner during the day. And the jewelry. Where to begin? Read more at Allure…
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