The ladies sat before their assigned vanity. Many showed obvious signs of early morning puffiness, breakouts and patches of dryness. Their hair was limp with no body.
Duchess marched down the row like a commander preparing her troops for battle. “Ladies, consider this basic training. Take a hard look at your reflection in the mirror.”
The harshness of the cosmetic lights exposed the imperfections of the ladies, creating a deep insecurity in the most confident of ladies. Janey studied her image in the mirror. She inspected every freckle and every pore on her face. Amy frowned at an oily patch on her forehead. Keri pressed her fingers to her translucent fair skin. And Liz could not even look herself in the mirror, but silently chided other ladies.
“This is what you look like straight out of the stall. In any race if you continue to look like this, you will be stalled. It is important that we give you the out-of-the-gate look.”
Duchess noticed some ladies with good complexions, others with good physical bone structure and several with bright eyes and beautiful smiles. “You will notice by your reflection in the mirror and by the reflections of your competition that all women are not created equal.”
She placed her hands on the shoulder of a fair and homely woman. She leaned forward to confront the women’s reflection. “That is where I come in.” She stood tall with her shoulders firm and head up. “I am the great equalizer.”
Upon clapping her hands loudly, an army of groomers in white coveralls appeared and took position behind at every lady’s station. She clapped her hands again. “Begin!”
A groomer drew a thick line of black eyeliner around Janey's eyes and then added so much mascara that the color of her eyes was no longer distinguishable. Janey blinked. Her eyelashes stuck together making it impossible to open her eyes.
“Thick lines of eyeliner and mascara will give you ladies that innocent, damsel in distress look that no man can resist.”
Duchess stopped behind Liz’s makeup chair. A groomer caked white contour makeup on the sides of Liz's nose to make it look thinner. “We use contour makeup to reduce shadows around the nose to give you a more slender look to your face. Men love perky little noses. Delicate features represent a delicate heart and demeanor, which all men desire.”
She studied the makeup on Liz’s nose. “There is not enough chalk to make that nose delicate.” She removed a black magic marker from her coat pocket and drew black lines down the side of Liz’s nose. “Make it be so.” The groomer escorted Liz away to plastic surgery.
Another groomer rubbed bronzer on Keri’s fair skin that made her skin glow in a golden hue, yet her face did not match her neck. Keri glanced up nervously as Duchess approached her vanity table.
“Men like healthy skin.” Duchess glared down harshly at Keri. “A pale complexion indicates a pale personality.”
Seated next to Keri, Amy puckered her thin lips for yet another groomer, who outlined her lips with pencil. She was more than ready for the makeover and curious which of her features the groomer could improve to make her a greater champion.
“No man can resist a pretty pout. It makes them feel guilty for indiscretions never committed. It keeps them pleading for apologizes. Lipstick fills the color and the gloss adds the shine that shows you are healthy.”
Duchess grabbed the pencil from the groomer and outlined clown lips on Amy’s face. “Where God fails, Duchess repairs.” She handed the pencil back to the groomer. “Fill her in with lipstick, please.” The groomer applied heavy lipstick around Amy's lip to make her lips appear fuller. Duchess shook her head. “No, we may need collagen injections here.”
Amy seemed immensely proud that Duchess personally drew on her face. She looked in the mirror and admired the large clownish circle drawn her face. She was ready for collagen.
Duchess continued on to a pretty young lady, Gold Digging Hussy, and ran her hands through her thick mane of blonde hair. “Hair is the most important thing in attracting a man. A long thick mane can distract a man from the harshest of faces. Men like hair and lots of it. The shinier and bigger the mane the more you will be noticed.”
A groomer sprayed and teased the Gold Digging Hussy’s hair until it was as nearly as tall as long. Duchess admired the lady’s completely controlled head of hair. “Now isn't that better? You are sure to get a lot of looks with that mane.
Duchess stepped back and studied her handiwork on the row of blackened eyes, perky little noses, full pouty lips, and big, high hair. Unrecognizable as human, the women appeared more like dolls in some horror fantasy shop. “You are all beautiful, each and every one of you. You are all quite the contenders. Now, let’s move on to wardrobe.”
The ladies stood from their vanity tables and herded outside. Not able to pry her upper and lower eyelashes apart, Janey stumbled over her chair. She grabbed Keri’s arm. “I have so much eye makeup I can’t see.”
Keri glanced at Janey. “But you look so pretty.”
“I can’t see!”
Amy gave a glossy lipstick-stained smile. “It is a small price for beauty.”
“I need to be blind to be beautiful?” Janey looked around in a blurry darkness of matted mascara. “Where’s Liz?”
“Ladies!” Duchess called. “Let’s move along.”
Amy and Keri smiled politely and apologized in unison. “Sorry, Duchess.”
Janey lingered rebelliously. She thought of Dwayne. How can I win this race for Dwayne if I can’t see where I’m going? Crazy! Is this some inspired, soul-searching technique to find love? Janey surely doubted it.
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