20071224-1937 copyA long time ago in a land far, far away – long before Prince Charming entered the story – I used to sing for my supper. Literally. I taught at a private music school during the day and gigged at night, and some evenings my teaching schedule crept dangerously close to the pit orchestra’s downbeat.

On one such evening, I remember having only a meager thirty-five minutes in between my final piano class of the day and curtain call at the theater to turn my loafer-ed, spectacled, teacher-self into a seventeenth-century princess with full corset and wig – all without the help of a fairy godmother, I might add – and every one of those thirty-five minutes needed devoting to transportation. The theater sat a good forty-five minutes across town.  

I did what any reasonable adult would do. I applied my stage make-up before my final piano class and strategically set my bag by the door so I could bolt to my pumpkin-carriage the second my students finished playing their major triads.

Only, there was a small glitch in my plan. One of my voice students lingered too long after her lesson, and I only had time to apply make-up to one eye before the piano class started.

I felt like a freak show as I walked into that classroom, my right eye a circus act of blues and pinks and curling lashes while my left eye remained a plain, unadorned stagehand. I remember little, blonde Alexa looking at me with wide eyes, and I braced myself for the unfiltered truth which would inevitably pour from her six-year-old mouth.

“Oh, Mith Katie,” Alexa lisped. “You are thoooo beautiful.”

Huh. She didn’t seem to mind that only half of my face was a rainbow. Apparently, even a little bit of make-up was an improvement in Alexa’s eyes.

“Thank you, Alexa.”

I won’t bother you with the details of how I actually broke the law managed to get to the theater on time that night, nor will I spend time psychoanalyzing the concept of beauty as understood by a young, female child. I will simply tell you how this experience set me up to cope with something that occurred fourteen years later. 

“Aunt Katie,” my niece said a few months ago, sitting on my lap and eyeing my face with a good measure of fear and disapproval, “you don’t have any eyebrows.”

“I know.”


“Some medicine made them go away, and they never came back.”

My niece reprimanded that which was missing with a sharp wiggle of that which she had in abundance before settling back in my lap to resume the story we had been reading.

Thankfully, Alexa had taught me the magic spell make-up casts over young girls, so I didn’t panic. I simply purchased an eyebrow pencil and cut some well-placed bangs across my forehead. Now, my niece doesn’t even notice what’s missing. I’d still rather not have to walk through the Midway that is the make-up aisle in department stores, but I suppose I’ve hit that age when indulging in a little artifice is a service I can offer to my littlest neighbors.

So, bring on the Rimmel 001, ladies. Feather those bangs. Endometriosis may try to be an evil stepmother in our lives, but she need not keep our princesses from going to the ball.