Girls and Make-up: Crimes of Fashion

Sometimes I don’t want to write about writing. Sometimes I just want to write about the little things. Like puberty, petty crimes and rural isolation.

Stuff that would probably go well in YA novel.

Bugger.  I didn’t mean to bring it back to writing.

In 1976 (or thereabouts) my friends and I discovered Seventeen Magazine. Not in the local newsagent or in the magazine rack at home. No, no, no. We found it in the school library.

God bless you Mrs Wood wherever you may be.


Oh, the hours we frittered away (and the maths classes we wagged) as we pored over this exquisite magazine, breathless at the deliciousness of it all.

American girls were simply Beautiful. Look at Susan Dey. Just look at her!

But how so? What were their secrets? It had to be more than genetics and clever dentistry. Surely they had secrets we could figure out. If we just examined the photographs closely enough and obsessively enough we too would be enlightened. We too could get the look. Any look, really. Any look other than 1970s Rural Australian Backwater Bogan.

As we pored over those magical publications we soon realised that make-up had a lot to do with it. Yes, yes. Clothes and jewellery, pom poms and plaited leather chokers played their part. And soft lighting. And Romantic Locales.

But make-up, now that was something within our reach. That was something we could figure out. Enough makeup in all the right places was our ticket to Seventeen Sophistication.

We were on a quest for Cosmetic Transformation. And we began with Avon.

Someone’s big sister had an entire studio of Avon Stuff to Plaster on Your Dial. In particular, cream eyeshadow crayons. These were bound to add ten years to our traitorously youthful looks. One crayon, with plastic casing, locked into the base of the next one. So, as your collection grew, you ended up with this fabulously long wonky wand of eyeshadow crayons. In all the right colours. Every shade of blue and green.

Then came Prue Acton navy blue mascara. It had the extra bonus of added nylon fibres to make one’s lashes look about twelve inches long. (Although the fibres did hurt a bit when they crumbled and flaked and fell in your eye. Meh).

Yardley Pot-o-Gloss was a treasured favourite. I remember Pot-o-Brick was my personal favourite.

When we were desperate there was also a reliable (if tacky) brand called Starlet which could be picked up for a song in Woolworths. So you see,  by the time we discovered Mary Quant we all had A Habit.

Back then, most of us received about sixty cents a week in pocket money. In those fun-filled days this was enough for a packet of Alpine cigarettes and a week’s supply of Bellboy Bubblegum.


But Mary Quant, wicked seductress that she was, threw a spanner, nay a daisy, in the works. (That Quant daisy still gives me palpitations.) Not only did we covet her makeup, our lives simply Would Not Be Complete without it.

I won’t go into the shameful details of how we acquired it. But let me say we were Prepared To Go To Jail for Mary.

And, might I add, we never stopped to wonder if they had Seventeen Magazine on the inside.

Why would we?

We had much more important things on our minds.

We were growing up. 😉


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4 Replies to “Girls and Make-up: Crimes of Fashion”

  1. Ah, I had the same creamy eye shadow in the connecting tubes. I loved it and the Seventeen magazine. My sister and I used to do “photo shoots” pretending we were the models in the magazine. Thanks for a great story that made me recall fun times I hadn’t thought about in many years. Cheers-

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