Friday, September 21, 2007

Circling My Mother

In reading this fine book, I am again struck by how the generation of women who came of age in the 1920s through the 1940s seemed to be much more glamorous than the women who followed them. My mother's bureau drawers and closet were filled with mysterious objects, some never identified to my satisfaction. She had a scent, a regimen for getting ready to go out. She wore heels, dresses, hats--things foreign to me then and, even more, now.
Perhaps my generation gave up such things in exchange for other goals. Or possibly we have an aura of our own, but I strongly doubt that my daughter was ever caught up with her mother's mystery. My bureau drawers were dull--no undergarments not easily explained, no regime, no hats or heels, few dresses. In fact, I know she wasn't because she writes of women of earlier generations.
You can see some of this played out on Mad Men. People who weren't alive then believe the show to be an exaggeration. But it really isn't much of one.
This is the kind of post that get no response, but was your mother glamorous? Did feminism erase glamour? Did the sixties make me unwilling to spend much time on such things? Do I regret that I never learned to walk in heels or apply eyeliner with any skill? Maybe.


Sandra Scoppettone said...

I thought my mother was incredibly glamorous. I can still see her sitting at her vanity (3 mirrors) doing her hair, putting on make-up, dabbing perfume behind her ears. I believe at some point she wore Chanel No. 5. This is when I was 5-13 or something like that.

I never got the hang of heels...well, I did it because you had no choice, but eyeliner...nope. Couldn't do it.

pattinase (abbott) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pattinase (abbott) said...

Sorry I said McCarthy book in the last one. In the Gordon book, her mother wears Arpege by Lanvin, remember that.
I have never sat at a vanity in my life. But all adult bedrooms in my childhood had them. Is it because bathrooms have gotten bigger?

Todd Mason said...

My mother, I think, looked (and looks) upon glamming as a chore, an occasionally necessary that she's just into her eighth decade, she's less worried about it than ever. But she might be of the last gen who were more or less uniformly told they Must. Interestingly, to me, two of my closest women friends have been obsessed with makeup, at least, and one with perfume as well...while my romantic interests have tended to eschew all that, happily for both them and me (lip gloss, as one recent womanfriend did favor, looks fine, I suppose, but feels unfortunate when one is on, at least, the "other" side of it).
I am impressed by how much perfume some women of my officemates wears a great perfume at about, I'd guess, five or ten times the volume she should.

Nancy P said...

What a great question. Brings back memories of my mom's dresses, high heels, trips to the beauty shop, and that yellow coat with the rabbit fur collar I loved to stroke. My mom would be the last person to claim any glamor, but yeah, att least compared to my generation, she had some. I always thought we'd all grow up to look like movie stars.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Hey, Nancy--Loved your book. And I also expected to suddenly look like Natalie Wood-if not Liz or Grace. But the sixites taught me differently. But I do wish there was something alluring: a scent, the swish of a skirt, the click of heels.
Todd-My mother still manages to look more glamorous than me in her eighties.

Nancy P said...


My mom is 91 and would still be wearing high heels if her back would let her do it. I know she must look at me sometimes and wonder, "How did I raise this slob?" lol.