Snow White and Rose Orange a story of two sisters

Two-thirds of all women and one-third of all men color their hair. I learned a lesson very early on with two sisters, one of whom had gorgeous white hair and the other of whom had bright orange hair, which was obviously not any color momma nature had invented. I thought they were 20 years different in age. They were three years apart. (Oh, please . . . of course Ms. Prematurely Orange looked much younger!) Lesson learned as far as I'm concerned.

Mirror, mirror

Take a close-up look in the mirror. We're not talking plastic surgery here, just a look at hairstyle, hair color (yeah, guys, you too), facial hair (yeah, gals, you too), and makeup.

1 Hair: If you hate your hair, it's probably because you haven't come to grips with what looks good on you with your particular style and texture. Look through a magazine and pick out a couple of styles you like and then make sure that the people wearing the hair have your coloring or kind of hair or features. In fact, rather than focus on hair-style first, look for magazine models that look like you (more or less, remembering that even those models don't look like that in real life), and then see what style they're wearing.

Don't assume that a cool hairstyle is going to cost a fortune. Find somebody who knows and likes your kind of hair, and make sure that everybody they do doesn't look exactly the same. Also be willing to experiment a bit: Remember, it's only hair, and it grows back.

1 Flattering colors: You don't have to spend gobs of money getting your colors done. Go to a large department store with good lighting (not fluorescent), pick up the same shirt in a bunch of different colors, and see which color looks best with your skin and eyes. Then decide which color looks worst. Avoid the latter and focus on the former.

All of us grow up with notions of what we hate about our bodies, and we unconsciously try to cover up even when the problem is gone or the cover-up only emphasizes the problem. So it may help to have an astute salesperson or a friend with a good eye stand you in front of a mirror and show you what looks good and why, and show you what you should avoid like the plague.

As long as you're preparing to launch yourself, you might as well look and feel your best.

i Makeup: Makeup is a strange and wonderful thing. Men all say they hate it 'til they see us without it. What they hate (and what we hate, too) is looking like someone who has just walked off stage or out of the circus. Makeup can enhance what you've got and hide a bit of what you wish you didn't have, but in the same way that men who try and hide a bald spot can end up showing it off, too much makeup can actually emphasize the very things you were trying to hide.

Remember, your face is you. A good makeup person can show you how to look your best rather than someone else's not so good. Often department stores will do your makeup for free (although they try to sell you the products afterward). Pick out someone whose makeup looks good — especially if she's got your skin, hair, and eye coloring as well. But don't try to look like her. You just want to look like you, only better.

i Physical fitness: All this stuff — the hair, the colors, the makeup — is the stuff someone else can do for you. A bit harder is the stuff you have to do for yourself. You can't change your bone structure or your eye shape, but you can lose ten pounds if you'd feel better (joining a health club or jogging also gets you out of the house, and physical exercise is its own happy pill) or put on ten pounds.

If you can figure out something to do that makes you happier with yourself physically — whether it's gaining or losing weight, changing your hairstyle, or buying high heels or cowboy boots or a Wonder Bra or Spandex swim trunks — then do it.

After you deal with the easy, outside stuff, it's time to dig a bit deeper.

Continue reading here: Learning from past experiences

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