Paint belongs on a barn, according to my dad

One time when I was fifteen, my dad took me on a rare outing.  We slid the yellow canoe he’d inexplicably purchased into the nearby slough.  As we paddled around, I took a deep breath and asked him the question that had been on my mind for a long time.

“When I turn 16, can I wear make-up?”

“No,” he said.

“Why not?”

“Paint belongs on a barn.”

And that was the end of that.

I have been cursed with dark circles under my eyes and no eye lashes to speak of.  The other girls had been wearing make-up since sixth grade.  Compared to everyone else I was dowdy and ugly, if you asked me.  (My school pictures will confirm this assessment.)

I respected his rules, though.  One time, I performed with two other girls in a public place and my friends put make-up on me.  I was performing, after all.

When I returned home, my dad appeared in my bedroom doorway.  My stepmother had reported to him that I was wearing mascara and she immediately reported this infraction to him.  So I was scolded.

I remember the burning injustice I felt.  I was a straight A student.  I babysat in my spare time to earn extra cash.  I paid for all my own clothes, even my own shampoo.  I never caused a bit of trouble.  I did not drink, I didn’t take drugs and I didn’t date.  For fun, I went to the library and read.  I entertained myself by practicing the piano. I did my own laundry.  I went to church three times a week.

And I was in trouble because I dared to wear make-up for a special occasion.

I never wore it again until the day I arrived at college.  In Missouri.  Far, far, far away from the eyes of my father.

For the record, we never again went canoeing, either.

And frankly, I think if a barn needs painting, you ought to slap some paint on it.

8 thoughts on “Paint belongs on a barn, according to my dad

  1. it’s sad to know so many kids have issues with peer pressure in one way or another and even sadder when parents add to that pressure

    and have you heard yet as to the mammo?


  2. I’m glad you respected your father’s rule. Character is a lot better to wear than paint. I already lost the makeup war with my girls; they wore me down to a bloody nub.


  3. I fought the same war with my parents. Then with my daughters. One day a light bulb appeared above my head and I decided to pick my battles with my own daughters a little more wisely. Not that I allowed them to slather it on with a trowel, but I figured where they were going and with whom was a more important battle field than some mascara.


  4. I love you Mel!
    & I don’t think you were ugly at all! I can still picture you in school. I remember how smart you were. You should be proud of yourself~ In more ways than one! I think you are awesome! I think we should all be grateful that we grew up in a time when we were taught morals & respect! So many people these days will never learn those.


You know you want to comment here:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s