I remember the first time I saw Anna, my new housekeeper. Tiny, strong, athletic. She smiled and it was like the sun breaking through the clouds. But, just above her eyes, where her eyebrows are supposed to be, she had two very black, thin, hard lines extending too far downwards on the sides. Her eyebrows made her look sad. Her smile made her look happy. There was contradiction written all over her face and she was completely unaware of it. The makeup artist in me realised that the day would come when I teach Anna about eyebrows.
My past experiences with housekeepers left me with a sense of despair. My definition of clean and theirs was never the same. I am OCD clean. I also see everything. They don’t. It’s not important. I felt sorry for Anna before she even started…
When you’ve been disappointed so many times you do of course realise that half of the problem lies with you. We can’t change other people, after all, we can only change ourselves… We can teach and inspire them, but people only change when they want to.
Anna was the turning point. All my previous disappointments disappeared when she started working for me. I shouldn’t only thank Anna, I should thank her ancestors. Her stories about how her Mom calling her back when her room wasn’t clean enough delighted me. Her mother was strict. She instilled that sense of pride in Anna. Not only did she find honour in cleaning homes, but she also never thought it was a job that was beneath her. I’m reminded of one of Robin Sharma’s stories about the janitor cleaning toilets at O R Tambo. Showing leadership skills, no matter where you are placed in the hierarchy of life. If you haven’t read it, do yourself the favour.
Fast forward to today and this photograph of my Anna Angel. I taught her how to do her eyebrows. I taught her everything I knew about makeup, and she’s damn good at it now. She taught me how to trust and rekindled my faith in people’s work ethic.
In life, I genuinely believe in the magic of the little things, thousands of magic little seeds we sow in each other’s lives daily. I always say that makeup is just one tiny piece of a woman’s identity. It’s our Swiss pocket knife against a world that tells us we are supposed to look a certain way. On that topic, I have a lot more to say, but that is for next time.
For today, let’s celebrate Anna and every single woman who learn a new skill, whether it’s drawing perfect eyebrows or how to become the best version of who they can be, on all levels of life.