Five years ago, I was rushing out the door at my dad’s house when he stopped me.
“Rachelle, there’s something I need to tell you. Do you have a minute?” His somber look and serious tone sent my heart racing – and my mind scrambling to identify the latest family crisis.
“Sure,” I said with a tremor in my voice.
He shook his head sadly. “It’s a shame the way you look when you leave the house.”
I struggled to wipe the images of cancer-ridden loved-ones from my mind. “Huh?”
“You’re an attractive woman. You should be a clothes-horse, but instead…”
As he went on, I looked down at myself, as if for the first time. Some sort of wrinkled pea green waterproof hiking pants, covered with pockets and zippers, hung from my hips like jeans worn by boys and rappers. The resemblance was unintentional, as they were men’s pants – about three sizes too big. Equally big and shapeless, was a long-sleeve, royal blue t-shirt that reached my thighs.
I put a hand to my head, readjusting the black Nike baseball cap that I’d removed from my dad’s Goodwill stack. Excluding my bangs, it completely covered my hair. Throw in the three year old glasses, the total lack of make-up, and …
He was right. I looked awful. My parents had taught my siblings and me to always leave the house looking our best, but I’d been the only one to consistently fail this lesson.
His voice, now laden with sympathy, jerked my attention to him – and the money in his outstretched hand. Heat burned my face. Humiliation flickered through my body.
Though I didn’t accept my dad’s gift, I did follow his advice. I consulted an image consultant, who showed me the basics of make-up, the colors that looked good on me, and the clothing cuts appropriate for my body. While I’d never been a fashion disaster (when I made the effort to look good, that is), I was delighted with the improvement in my appearance.
As I stood in the center of Chronicle Books, flipping through Brenda Kinsel’s Fashion Makeover: 30 Days to Diva Style!, my attention once again turned to what I was wearing: Sketchers tennis shoes; big-legged black “dressy” sweat pants; tan zippered sweater from four seasons ago; a man’s XL charcoal jacket (a castoff of my bother’s); two year old glasses…
I picked up Ms. Kinsel’s book and rushed to the register. This time, I’m going to address the problem before my dad notices my relapse. And who knows? I might just share my results with you, too.