Nancy Roman

The Beauty Pageant

Okay, I have admitted that I was not a beautiful child.

I have also admitted more than once that I was an extremely late bloomer – like at sixty.

So from those two facts, you might be able to deduce that my thirties were not quite stellar.  I was better than homely but a far cry from pretty. Let’s say I was half-way there. More towards the unfortunate half, unfortunately.

Not that I didn’t try. I tried really hard. Hair and fashion and makeup were always important to me. I bought fake makeup and toy high heels at McClelland’s Five-And-Ten every year between five and ten. At eleven my mother let me wear pink lipstick. It was Cutex “Pink Cameo” which was rumored to be what Jackie Kennedy wore.  Thirty-nine cents; my first real makeup purchase. The first hit of my drug of choice.

By the time I was seventeen I had black eyeliner and Twiggy lashes. And white lipstick.  (Oh yeah.)

Not pertinent to this story, but a memory just popped up: In high school I was the very first girl to have pierced ears. Mia Farrow had pierced ears on Peyton Place and I thought that was really cool, so I pierced my ears with the torture they used to call “sleepers.” A gradual torture. Ouchy. But I got a rip-roaring infection and had to let my holes close up. And a few years later (at the time of the white lipstick), everyone had pierced ears. So I used my eyeliner to draw little flowers on my earlobes. Pretty creative, huh?

Anyhow… back to my thirties.

In my quest to be beautiful (or to at least stop looking like David Cassidy, which more than one person had pointed out to me) – I availed myself of every makeover and make-up instruction offer out there. Merle Norman, Avon, the multitude of counters at G Fox & Co (which became Filene’s which became Macy’s).

One day the lady who stocked pens and paper at the office told me she did MaryKay on this side, and offered to come over to my apartment that evening and do a makeover. And that night she sold me a ton of shit useful products.

About three weeks later I got a phone call from the supplies/beauty consultant lady.  I figured she knew that I had just about paid for the first batch of products. MaryKay was having a sort of party that week at the Marriott. All the area sales reps and their customers were going to get together for a mass makeover.  Fabulous!

I wore my biggest shoulder-paddiest dress and my perm was the spiraliest. I had been told to bring all my MaryKay makeup with me. I couldn’t go out barefaced (this was the Marriott after all – the biggest pick-up bar in Central Connecticut – I couldn’t risk being seen) but I used a light touch so my new makeover could go right over.

When I arrived, my beauty/paper clip advisor was disappointed that I wasn’t all made up. “This isn’t exactly a makeover,” she explained. “We are showing how great our products are on all sorts of people. So go to the ladies’ room and do your makeup like I showed you.”  And so I did.

And then the regional manager announced the big surprise for all of us MaryKay’d faces.

The secret purpose of the big get-together:  We were all contestants in a MaryKay beauty contest!

They sectioned us off by age group and we paraded across the dais. Four of the reps’ husbands had been bulldozed volunteered to be judges.

It was about the most embarrassing, humiliating evening of my life.

I will never forget it.

I won!


P.S. – There were four of us in my age group.


  1. Hey – you win, you win. I came first in my age group in a mini triathlon a few years ago. This in spite if the fact that I was the only entrant whose bike had a basket on the front, and I can’t run.. And, yeah, there was only one person in my age group. 🙂


  2. Of course you did!


  3. This story reminds me of that episode of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” when Rhoda won a beauty contest and wouldn’t admit it to anyone but Mary. Congrats!


    • Back when this happened, I also thought right away about that episode. It was so similar. Except that entering was a total surprise to me.


  4. Reblogged this on shreeaunsh and commented:


  5. Gray Dawster

    You won, and deservedly so 🙂
    You ladies all worry about how you
    look, how a beauty product might be
    the answer to… Well I won’t go on,
    my point is that you are all beautiful
    in your own right. One seems to be
    continuously searching for ‘That’ look
    when all the time you have it within
    yourselves, well that’s what I think
    anyway. Age is just a number my
    friend so enjoy everything and be
    whom you are 🙂 🙂

    Have a wickedly enjoyable Tuesday 🙂



    • It has taken me a long time, but I finally like the way I look. I guess after a while I just got used to me.


      • Gray Dawster

        I think that there would be many that would share those feelings and thoughts my friend, sometimes we are completely unaware of what others think about us.

        I am pleased that you are happy 🙂



  6. Congrats on your title!
    My neighbour did ‘Oraflame’ (or something like that) and I had a house party for her.
    I never liked anyone doing my make up, so volunteered my Mum to be her model. Mum only ever used a touch of lipstick and a dab of the facial powder puff, but I must admit she looked lovely. I didn’t buy many of the products, just lip gloss, skin cleanser and a kohl stick. These days I don’t wear makeup of any description (and neither does my Mum).


    • I love makeup. I have shelves and shelves of it.


  7. For as much of a tomboy as I was growing up, I love makeup now 🙂 Good for you for taking home the banner; I hope you had a wicked acceptance speech about world peace and more !!
    🙂 MJ


    • Oh yes, I would like world peace, and end to poverty and disease, and a good non-clumping mascara.


      • I would kill for a non-clumping mascara! They all say they don’t clump but they do, at least on my eyes!


      • Dan

        Miss Congeniality (2000)

        Stan Fields: What is the one most important thing our society needs?

        Gracie Hart: That would be harsher punishment for parole violators, Stan.

        [crowd is silent]

        Gracie Hart: And world peace!

        [crowd cheers ecstatically]

        Stan Fields: Thank you, Gracie Lou.

        Gracie Hart: And thank *you*, Stan.

        [Gracie walks offstage]


  8. Congratulations! What I like about you is your attitude. I can see you now. Good for you. A win is a win is a win. I’ll tell you a secret. I would never want to be a Barbie doll. At least as ordinary people there is the challenge of improvement. What the fun of being perfect already?


    • Well, I have certainly had the challenge of improvement.


      • Then you have done a great job because I don’t see a thing needing improvement.


  9. Count it! And what did you win?


  10. Right on! A win is a win! I never got sucked into Mary Kay, but I did the free Merle Norman makeover when I was a teenager. The consultant slathered me with makeup, and I promptly went home and washed it all off. I don’t actually remember whether it was flattering or not – it probably was, but I felt as though everybody was staring at me. Someone with more common sense than I might note that that was the point of the whole exercise, but… I guess some us just aren’t “makeup people”.


    • I just want to be me, only much, much better.


  11. I cannot believe you didn’t hoop and holler, come on you won!

    I am from Dallas, I drive by the Mary Kay building all the time and always wonder, are the offices all done up in pink? I just wonder.

    Pierced ears, I remember those self piercers. So many of my friends did that and got infections. I went a different route, after my mother told me she would pierce my nose if I pierced my ears (how cool was that?), I simply got a needle, some ice and a potato and stuck that heated needle through my ears. Nope, no pierced nose she didn’t follow through.


    • Years later, when I finally got my ears re-pierced, a doctor did it. My mother was a nurse and one of her doctor friends told her to come over to the office and bring along anyone who wanted their ears pierced. So my mother and I did ours together.


  12. I love that makeup is your “drug of choice”. I was getting flashbacks of with your trip down makeup up memory lane. I remember every one of those trends.


    • I figure makeup won’t kill me even if I am close to overdose.


  13. A win is a win. I recently took 3rd place in my age group for a 5K and I’m pretty sure there were only three of us, but I took that win and ran with it. 😉


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