Getting ready for a makeover

Sunday January 10 2016

A model before and after a makeover at Dee's Hair and Beauty Salon on June 30, 2015. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU

A model before and after a makeover at Dee's Hair and Beauty Salon on June 30, 2015. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU 

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January inevitably comes with a newness even for those who do not dare to admit it. Inside it lies a wish to be better than we were the previous year. Whether it is a trumpeted resolution or a secret thought at the back of your mind, the biggest theme is inevitably improvement. It inspires countless people desirous of a makeover. It may go by any other name but the consequence is the same. There is a visible alteration.

I have engineered so many alterations of myself I even contemplated making a career of it. Inspired by reality TV shows and my own chameleon like-nature, I have harboured the idea of stripping people of their former selves. I have watched peoples’ attachment to their past selves and their idea of what constituted a beauty shift. Occasionally makeovers backfired spectacularly.

Reality shows of course come with an entertainment grain. It is supposed to be fun watching someone else’s life get flipped inside out.

I am deeply appreciative of the direction my DIY makeovers take even when they have barely been understood. I loved the organic nature of my transformations. While it looked sudden to everyone else, it involved months, sometimes years, of planning. Meanwhile, I would inject and imbue my soon to be revealed self with traits I felt made the new Carol, endowing her with the attributes needed to accompany the shift.

Each time someone discusses a makeover, I have to ask not just what prompts it, but gauge how long they have been playing around with that idea. The best makeovers remain the most considered ones. They are not abrupt peelings to wrench someone out their comfort zones no matter the impressions reality TV creates.


There is a great deal of mental preparation that must be done before the physical shift starts to form. Makeovers are disruptive, painful changes that come at a cost. Not money, though, because that tends to be the very first thought. But, in the investment.

When President Barack Obama was interviewed by Vanity Fair in 2012 he said he wore only blue or gray suits to pare down decisions. That he did not want to make decisions about what to wear or what to eat because he has too many decisions to make in the course of the day. The late Steve Jobs favoured a black t shirt, blue jeans and a specific brand of sneakers.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO Facebook wears the same kind of grey T-shirt each day. Magazine and fashion editors keep the rest of the world in touch with the latest trends but opt for black. These uniforms are preferred by powerful people because it eliminates what psychologists call decision-making fatigue.

We make plenty of decisions in a day. Why should we start by sweating over what to wear?

 Makeovers can be complicated if they add to your routine instead of subtracting layers off your life. It is for this reason that your why, why now, why this and why here counts. That is what makes a transformation stick.

Reasons vary from a kick in the butt, boredom, loss of confidence, new relationships, a breakup, marriage, divorce, motherhood, death to weight loss or gain. Ideally makeovers favour people who are heading to or finding themselves in a good place.

As the makeover becomes a part of your life, it needs to be something you can pare down to something manageable and easy.

If you have to wear makeup and you were not used to it, learn the basics first before getting adventurous and ask for professional help. If your clothes are changing, lay out an entire week’s wardrobe from head to toe and commit to each look. If you are changing your hair, understand what is involved in terms of maintaining it. You will have to change hair products and sometimes salons and hairstylists. It changes your routine.

There is a critical part to makeovers most people overlook, and that is the communal experience. Include loved ones. A significant other weighs in either by word or deed, children, regardless of age, have a perspective on how their parents look and good friends can be a great support system.

Seek professionals out. That does not mean they influence your choices. What it does is turn the shift into something fun, enjoyable and practical. It stops becoming a personal decision and turns into a choice you can savour with those close to you.

A makeover should never have to be defended. All the best in your 2016!