For the unofficial end of summer.
Georgia O’Keeffe, Summer Days, 1936. Oil on canvas, 36 × 30 in. (91.4 × 76.2 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Calvin Klein 94.171.
Image via Whitney Museum website.
What is it about mermaids? Why are we fascinated by them? I wouldn’t actually want to be one (if they existed). I don’t swim. I would never go topless. I’m not an adult Disney fan with an Ariel obsession. I think the story of “The Little Mermaid” (the real Hans Christian Anderson story, not that Disney version!) is strange and sad; the first time I read it, as a child, I kept turning the last page back and forth, hoping for another (happier) ending.
And yet, like many other women, I would ask a mermaid for some beauty tips. The hair! the pale skin! the shimmery scales!
Birchbox, the beauty-product shopping site and subscription club, has just launched a limited edition set called Modern Mermaid.
I’m a very pale person, both by nature and by design. When I was a child, my mother enforced a strict sunblock-wearing rule. As a teenager, I entered a Goth phase that involved long, layered clothing and an abhorrence of even the slightest tan. I still apply sunscreen daily and I’ve never really lost my taste for wearing black, but I do reveal my bare legs in the summer, and let me tell you, they are white.