by Melinda Gallo

American women and makeup

Today I went to Elisir, which is a perfume and skin care shop in Borgo degli Albizi, where I have become friendly with Rossella. I see her about once a month to get facials and buy products. She and I diamo del tu (use the familiar you form) although her husband and I diamo del Lei (use the formal you).

When I first arrived Rossella, whose name means Scarlett, wasn't there, so her husband started to help me. I was a little uncomfortable since I was looking for a new rossetto (lipstick). "Non c' la Rossella?" (Rossella isn't here?), I asked. I appreciated his helping me, but I'm much more comfortable with his wife.

He went downstairs to get her and came back to tell me, "Sta arrivando." (She's coming.)

When she came up, I said, "Mi dispiace. Non volevo disturbarti." (I'm sorry. I didn't want to disturb you.) "Non fa niente" (It's OK), she said.

We walked over to a large selection of rossetti and she began applying samples of rossetto on the back of her hand. I told her, "Sto cercando qualcosa su rosato." (I'm looking for something rosy).

She tried one of the rossetti on my lips and asked me to go outside with her. She held up a mirror and I gave her a grimace. It was a little too acceso (bright) for me and she knew I didn't feel comfortable with it on. I also was uncomfortable standing out in the street with people going by and looking at me while I look at myself in a mirror.

We went back to look at the rossetti and she tried one on her hand. When we saw it in the light, we both gasped: it was really bright. "Qui si dice che 'come una signora americana in vacanza,'" (Here we say, 'like an American woman on vacation'). I laughed and knew that she meant no harm.

In the end, I bought a very muted rossetto especially after hearing the expression that Rossella taught me. So, besides being considered loud do American women really wear loud makeup too? I hadn't really noticed and now I'm going to be looking at the American women more carefully.

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