Prom Glow Giveaway 2019

"Desireé, we just need you in our life," I heard a little voice squeak from the corner of the living room, where everyone was sitting. It came from the littlest sister, who coincidentally had the biggest personality of all six family members who crowded onto couches, watching as I put makeup on one of my #promglowgiveaway contest winners. It was a small burst of giddy affirmation, but damn. It stuck with me as I drove home, and my eyes filled to the brim with tears as I replayed that moment in my head. Struck by the sheer cuteness and boldness of this little girl, who wasn't even getting her makeup done, I didn't really know what to say back. The first thing that came to mind never made out of my mouth, but, I recall thinking, "girl, you have no idea how much I needed this in my life."

About three months ago, the idea of giving away from prom makeup popped into my head, and I couldn't put it to rest. High school SUUUUUUUCKED for me, but my mom always treated me to getting my hair and makeup done, and it was like another version of myself would emerge. For one night, I was the young woman I wanted to be. I was the one that felt comfortable in her skin; the one who was going to walk onto that dance floor and own it; the one who wasn't going to worry about what other people thought. I was thoroughly convinced my makeup artist was some sort of sorceress, who's magic mascara wand would turn me into a queen for a few precious hours. I wanted to pass that feeling down to someone who would revel in it.

As the entries came in, one, in particular, stood out to me:

 
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In her words, I could see that Delia had a heart of gold, and I knew I had to make her FIRST and LAST dance of high school as memorable as possible. So, not only did I select Delia as my winner, but I chose her twin sister, Mariana, too. The day of, I was greeted by the whole family at the door with flowers and warm smiles all around. I felt as if I was a distant family friend returning to catch up.

"They've never missed a day of school." This was one of the first things Leticia, Delia and Mariana's mother, said to me as I set up my makeup station. "They come home from volleyball, do homework until 1 AM, and then wake up early for school the next day." The dedication paid off. Both young women are beyond intelligent, and are choosing between colleges like University of San Francisco, UC Davis, University of Hawaii, and CSU Monterey Bay. I could tell that both parents were immensely proud of their twin daughters as they told me stories while I swished and swirled my brushes around each girls' face.

Neither sister had ever really worn makeup before, which usually makes me pretty nervous, as seeing oneself done up for the first time can often come as a shock. I finished Delia first and handed her a mirror to get her approval.

A soft, "it looks good," with a subtle smile is what she gave, and she wandered to her room quickly after. "Shit," I thought. "She hates it." I saw her mom coming down the narrow hallway and sit back down on the couch after a couple of minutes. I asked, "do I need to fix anything? Is she ok?"

"She's trying not to cry, she's so excited," Leticia replied, "they've never had anything like this before."

PHEW.

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Feeling more confident, I started on Mariana. The family continued to sit and watch, filling the time with recounted memories. As unnatural as this initially felt to me, I quickly realized that this was totally the norm for them. Everyone in one spot, no one on their phone, laughing about trips they had taken and awkward moments with rude waiters. By the time Mariana was finished, I knew how her parents had met, about Mr. Jimenez's determination to learn English when he first came to the U.S., and how Mariana and Delia got their volleyball skills.

Mariana's smile was priceless as she looked at herself in the mirror, and I knew my work was done. Before I left, we took some photos together, and I hugged everyone goodbye. As I drove home, all I could think of was how crazy it was that only 30 minutes away, this family, and these incredible young women, had built a life worth sitting in a living room to talk to a stranger about for three hours. I felt like I had won the contest.

Every couple of hours that night, I found myself refreshing my Instagram feed to watch Delia and Mariana's night unfold. There were selfies and boomerangs and late night Denny's meals (girl, been there). When I got to catch up with the twins, they told me about how much fun they had, and my heart was full knowing that I had contributed a small piece to a memory they'll talk about one day in a living room, packed with their family and friends.

 
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To Delia and Mariana: thank you for making me feel pretty.

–Des