Today my friend K and I attended our first ever MAC seminar. I’ve never had a formal “makeover” or been to a makeup class (neither had K) and so we were excited. Anni is the makeup artist (MA) who talked us into signing up for the class to begin with and she had told us, “Sign up today or there might not be enough spots! These fill up so quickly!” We did, but thought she was exaggerating. I no longer think she was. There were at least forty women in our morning session with another session being held in the afternoon. We were escorted up to a small conference-style room on the upper floor of our Macy’s and packed into plastic folding chairs, but graciously offered bottles of water and sad, sad cookies. For our class there were two main visiting MAs who were applying makeup to their pre-selected models while several of the local MAs stood around the room. We were told to interrupt the two MAs at any point to ask questions or request a specific product that the helper MAs would then bring to us in our chairs. Permitting chaos was a bad decision on MAC’s part.
Once we arrived I found myself playing the size up game, comparing myself to all the other women and imagining what their reasons for attending were and why, oh why, were they wearing that? Anyway, as the makeovers started, women chatted amongst themselves, despite the fact that one of the two MAs were talking at all times. This really bothered me, especially when the women would reach out their hands or point to a product to then have it delivered to them. K, correctly, pointed out to me after she noticed my incredulousness that these ladies just weren’t “as good of students as we are.”
She is right. I am so, so well-trained as a student that when you place me in a chair, put a quasi-authority figure at the front of the room, and then have that person start speaking, I flip the student switch and am quiet, attentive (or at least really good at faking it), and respectful (although I’m good at faking this too). These women didn’t mind having entire conversations with each other, the helper MAs, or even on their cell phones. There was so much aural stimulation that I sort of shut down for a few minutes. And remembered that the rest of the world is thrilled to be done with school. I will be too, whenever that day comes.
But, it strange to have all of these women with their hands flapping in the air, like toddlers when they want something, opening and closing their fists as the “Gimme, gimme!” signal. A bit unnerving, really. It was like they were afraid that some product they desperately needed was going to disappear, despite the fact that there were clearly stacks and stacks of product on the table at the front of the room available for purchase. Although, to be fair, the MAs performing the makeovers consistently (thanks to their training, I’m sure) used language like, “This is a must-have,” “I will never be out of this,” “You need this,” etc. I mean, clearly, I think that I need makeup too, or I wouldn’t have been at this place, hoping to learn about it and take some home, but their hyperbolic language and transparent lack of reasoning got to me.
The two looks that we were “taught” how to do were not something K or I would ever wear. We did a lot of eye-rolling and sneaking looks of horror at each other as the MAs kept adding layer after layer after layer of gunk to these women’s faces.
The way that the class works is that you pay $50 for your “ticket” to the seminar, but you then get to redeem that $50 in MAC products after the seminar ends, but you have to spend your $50 that day. I ended up with a concealer, a powder, and a tinted moisturizer. So exciting. I know the girls who were helping me find my products were bored, but I was determined to use my $50 in the most economical, practical way possible. I own entire small drawer full of red lipstick. I have more eyeshadows than I ever wear. I love my blushes, but I can’t think of another color or texture I would like to add to the rotation. I think paying more than $10 for a mascara is ridiculous. I already own and adore MAC’s Blacktrack fluidliner, but I’ve been using the same one for over a year and still have more than half the pot to go. Thus, imagine how quickly I had to wipe the shock off my face when the one of the two women who were in line to pay in front of K and I turned sideways, just to be sure that we could hear, and said, one to the other, “Wow, 450 dollars today, huh? Hahaha.” Then she smirked at us, with our three or four products each in hand, and turned back to the counter. I wanted both to smack her and reassure her.
For some of those women, makeup was the most important thing that would happen to them, today, or most days, for all I know. They were excited by these products, excited for the ability and resources to hide their flaws and accentuate their favorite features, and empowered by spending gazillions of dollars on MAC makeup. I think wearing makeup is so fun, such a creative process, and, yes, personally empowering. But, I realize that’s me, and that it’s not for everyone. I don’t know that some of these women could see past themselves, or even through their makeup.
Image: From MAC‘s 2008 Creme Sheen campaign