Stylist Alida Rubin believes a little bit of lipstick goes a long way, so she’s using her cosmetic skills to give women in residential senior centers complimentary makeovers. After treating her dementia-suffering mother to a beauty session – and witnessing the joy on her face and the delight of staff and other residents at her nursing home – Rubin had “an epiphany” and decided to do the same for other women.
The vivacious grandmother founded My Makeover Mission a year ago and — with the help of a photographer taking before and after pictures – transforms women at centers in New York and Connecticut. Here the former fashion editor tells Senior Planet about her work, her own style secrets and discovering Instagram.
Senior Planet: How do the women react when they see the transformation?
Rubin: “It’s amazing what a little makeup can do. But it’s more than that, it’s how it makes them feel, like they are queen for the day. After I’d finished at one home and was packing everything away, I was taken into a room where there were seven, eight women around a table. They were all clapping and each one told me how I had made them feel. I just stood there, tears running down my face.
“A lot of them totally fall asleep during the process, it’s so relaxing for them, as I stroke their faces and apply the makeup.”
Senior Planet: And you do this for free?
Rubin: “I rely on donations, I haven’t had a chance to do any fundraising as I’ve already spent so much money just getting this is all together. Some people on Instagram have been lovely and donated.
Senior Planet: How did you get on to Instagram?
Rubin: “Ari Seth Cohen, the photographer from Advanced Style, discovered me a year ago! I had popped out wearing a black turtleneck and leggings and a white sweatshirt around my waist. I heard someone screaming, “Stop, stop, please,” and when I turned around it was Ari. I was like a schoolgirl, I knew his work, I’d seen his documentary, and he said I was fabulous and wanted to photograph me. He got his assistant to take an extra picture and said I could post it on Instagram. I didn’t dare say I’d resisted Instagram until then.
“I had a young assistant helping me with my website, so she set it up. My AlidaStyle account got 2300 followers in eight months but I hated all the creepy guys who had access to direct message me, so I deleted 322. As a business, I can see the analytics, the biggest age group is women from 25 to 34. They are looking to me for inspiration and that’s why I refuse to give my age.
“Age is an unimportant number. I have a very young spirit, a lot of energy. When I do tell people my age, they have to sit down. To be honest with you, I don’t know how to do CPR, so I can’t tell a lot of people!”
Senior Planet: Can you tell us some of your style secrets for women of a certain age?
Rubin: “Older women think more is best. No, less is more. You don’t have to wear 18 pieces of jewelry, pare it down. And that also includes makeup.
”I don’t wear designer clothes and I don’t spend a lot of money. I get stopped all the time by younger people, asking what I’m wearing, often it’s a pair of $12 pants from H&M.
“I gave up trying to straighten my hair 18 years ago and I have never looked back. Now I love my curls, I embrace them even though they take more work. Curly hair has a mind of it’s own, gray hair too. It takes a village to make it look good. I only wash my hair once a week now, I used to do it every day but I learned that was wrong.”
Senior Planet: What does aging with attitude mean to you?
Rubin: “Did you get that phrase from me? I don’t subscribe to people saying you can’t wear this or do that at your age. My mother is 98 and I say let her eat whatever she wants. The nursing home strains her food, yet she wants a bagel every morning. I say give her food she likes. That’s the way I feel about dressing. It’s how you put it together. You can wear anything, I don’t care how old you are.”
You can follow Rubin on Instagram at mymakerovermission
If you want to know more about Alida, make a donation or see more of her work, you can visit her at:
Curious about Instagram, the photo-centric social network? Register now for a Live Stream session at the Senior Planet Exploration Center. This lecture/workshop will give you a taste for what it’s all about, plus a hands-on intro on Friday, August 10 from 1:15pm – 2:15pm.
RSVP required. To RSVP, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 646-590-0615.