Look good… feel better


Wednesday morning Tessa and I arrived at Princess Margaret Hospital’s wig shop for a Look Good… Feel Better seminar. My cancer care navigator at St. Mike’s told me to go to one, the chemo nurses did too. I’d heard about the seminars ages before, saw special sections in the women’s mags about what a great endeavour it was. I understand the logic behind it, in fact, it echoes one of my favourite sayings about dealing with mental health issues—fake it until you make it. If you go through the motions, eventually you will habituate. If you look good, people will see you as healthier, if they see you as healthy, they’ll treat you as healthy, and then you’ll feel more normal and more like the old you.

     Or, like the devil’s advocate in me thinks, You have cancer, you feel like shit, how in God’s name can anyone expect you to cleanse, tone, serum, moisturize, prime, powder, paint, and on and on so you’ll look like a painted doll who still feels like shit?

     Spurred on by the promise of a kit of free potions, lotions and war paint, though, we walked on in. The Look Good Feel Better seminars are sponsored by the Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association (CCTFA) Foundation, formed in 1992, and the seminar leaders and assistants are all volunteers from the cosmetics industry. There were eight of us around the table, each set up with a tabletop mirror, makeup sponges and disposable brushes, and a big pink box. The volunteers opened the boxes and pulled out the contents, very adeptly slicing open packages with box cutters and laying everything out in front of us.

     We all wore name tags. Tessa had to sit at the back of the room (I was very disappointed—I wanted my daughter right there, since she is a pro at makeup, and I haven’t been truly bothered to do real makeup for years and years. I didn’t want to be discovered as a lipbrush-wielding fraud).

     But, like a kid with a tray of fingerpaints in front of her, it didn’t take me long to muck in. The woman leading the seminar was genuine and funny, and she walked us through all the steps of a complete cleansing and makeup, with hands-on instruction and the help of the other volunteers for anyone who asked. I did well until the eyebrows. I have always let nature take its course with my eyebrows (except for two incidents with professionals, one of whom was Paul Venoit, internationally known Canadian makeup artist [why? because he was doing a huge campaign for Rimmel, and I was lucky enough to be in consumer mags at the time, so got a makeover by a real pro]). After putting the eyebrow pencil dots at the right co-ordinates, using the inside of my eye and the outside of the iris to line it all up, the seminar leader came over and told me I had lovely eyebrows and we had to get rid of the dots. But what do I do when the eyebrows go the way of the rest of the hair on my head? Then I’ll be making strategic dots and filling in the rest. Ugh.

     After an hour and three-quarters, we all looked great. A bit bright for before noon on a Wednesday, but we definitely were a more polished and smiling group of women. There was camaraderie around the table, and conversations as we packed up our boxes and exited the room.

     My only regret? Not remembering to take a photo of the looking good, feeling better me! That’ll have to come later.


3 Responses

  1. Here’s a bit of silver lining, Mary didn’t have to shave her legs or underarms for months 🙂

  2. Thanks for sharing your workshop experience! We’re thrilled to hear you enjoyed it. ~ Chantal & team at Look Good Feel Better

    • Attending the workshop was our pleasure! Today I went to the hospital and actually put on makeup first. It slowed me down, but I think the effort was worth it. I got more smiles than usual, and I think it’s because I looked better! Thank you to the team!

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