Facetime saves the day…

HipSilver Community Contributor, Ellen Sherman

People want to look good. Trust me, no matter your age, sex or background stats, we usually spend some time prepping to meet the day.

No more. Or at least no more as of two weeks ago. The decline was gradual. For those of us who work at home, there had usually been some AM attempt to pull together a respectable appearance. My morning routine used to include all the usual tasks plus a brief makeup session. I actually coordinated outfits, trying to find different variations on all the tops, t-shirts, sweaters, fleece cover-ups, and flannel shirts that go with navy blue cords. Jeez Louise, sometimes I even threw caution to the winds and dove into my selection of crisp, pressed shirts hanging proudly in the closet. This was usually on a day when I had lunch or some kind of meeting which counted in my mind as a suitable occasion to “dress up.” After all, pressed shirts became wrinkled messes after one Cesar salad. But you also never know who you’ll meet around the neighborhood. I once ran into an old friend with whom I had had no contact for 15 years for reasons having to do with rivalry over some oblivious long forgotten man. She looked amazing. Coiffed, fabulous suede pants, a deliciously soft cashmere jacket. In my sweats and my son’s oversized parka, I looked like Billie Eilish, a look that works for her and no one else. I never went out again without some prep.

And then came COVID. Gradually as we all hunkered down, going outside decreased. First, I was dropping into the local greengrocer, pharmacy or supermarket slightly less than usual, lessening my family’s demand feeding needs for the must-have pumpernickel bagel or will-die- without a bunch of bananas. I still put outfits together, did the mascara, dusted the blush-on, swiped with the lip gloss.

Then forays out plummeted. Suddenly, the t-shirt I forgot to hang up the night before seemed perfectly sufficient to walk the dog. Same for the wrinkled cords hanging off the chair. I still brushed the blush-on, swiped the mascara…

But then it was hard to justify any movement outside the house. Walking the dog was the only constant justifiable excuse to venture out. And venturing outside now meant you could run into…well...no one. The streets look like a set from “The Walking Dead” if, after the Zombie apocalypse, people still walked their dogs. I took to pulling on a pair of gym tights topped by a nightgown. And makeup? Seriously, who needed makeup. Coming back one day I looked in the mirror. What stared back was a Wild Thing after a major rumpus.  It didn’t seem possible, but it made me more depressed than that morning’s dose of Morning Joe.

And then someone unexpectedly Facetimed me. It was great to see her although seeing her behind her pool in sunny 84 degree St Petersburg was hard to take. I also noticed that she didn’t look like a Wild Thing. But looking into that little Face Time square at my image? Still in yesterday’s crinkled t-shirt with the pasta stain? Me, sans any form of makeup? Well, that was totally unacceptable. While I couldn’t go out in public much anymore, this platform was forcing me to be in the public, whether I liked it or not.

And then it happened again. Another unexpected Facetime call. This time from London. So good to see her, looking all bright and cheery. So probably not good to see me… frumpy, pale, hair sticking up in odd places, yet another bottom-of-the-drawer t-shirt.

 Things had to change. The next day, for the first time in weeks, I pulled out some semblance of an outfit. And while no one can see what kind of pants I have on, I put on a nicely pressed pair.  I don’t know what Rachel Maddow wears when she’s broadcasting from home, but I bet it’s not pajamas. I am perfectly happy to take style cues from Rachel. I dug into my drawer and retrieved the hibernating blush, mascara, eye shadow, and foundation. Oh yes, of course, the coverup for under the eyes. It’s amazing how drawn you can look in an Internet communique.

 So, when someone Facetimed me later that day, I was ready. We chatted, both looking like we had actually started an actual day as opposed to just extended a morning nap.

Now I greet each day as an opportunity…first off to simply live for 24 hours without getting sick and second, to try out different outfits I would usually never have bothered to wear. It’s my own Project Runway. I now go out of my way to Facetime friends I haven’t seen in ages. I can’t speak for them. Maybe they hadn’t thought they wanted to speak to me, but in this weird time, we are all happy to see each other, to say nothing of being delighted to have something to while away the endless time each day presents. Now as a new Facetime devotee, I am delighted to feel close again to some with whom I have drifted. But I am also grateful to have reason to pull myself together; a real jumpstart to making it through another day.

Soo…. Style Tips for Facetime. Do not pull the camera too close. Keep lighting in front of you. And don’t…. whatever you do…. position the “camera” too low.  Not anyone’s best angle. Trust me.


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