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BRINGING OUT THE BEAUTY : MOTHER'S DAY MAKE-OVERS LIFT SAGGING SPIRITS.

Byline: Anne Burke Daily News Staff Writer

Barbara Oliver lifted a gold-framed mirror to her freshly made-up face and started blubbering like a beauty contest winner.

The Las Vegas-born Oliver, participating in the Fred Jordan Mission Mother's Day beauty make-over on Skid Row, was a vision of loveliness with a hint of liner under big, brown, eyes, lightly blushed cheekbones, and sensuous, glossed lips.

``You look faaaaabulous, darling,'' gushed beauty consultant Barbara Walden, as Oliver, 27, dabbed delicately at the tears streaming down her face.

``You look at that mirror from now on, and you say, `I'm important.' You have to learn to love yourself,'' continued Walden, surrounded by dozens of colorful pots of goo and tubes of lipstick.

``Yeah, I'm working on that,'' sniffled Oliver, who said she is pregnant with her fifth child and trying to beat her cocaine addiction at the Salvation Army's Safe Harbor program downtown.

Oliver - a former prostitute - was among about 200 mostly down-and-out women who got gussied up for free Monday as part of the mission's make-over day, now in its seventh year.

Mother's Day activities at the Mission will culminate Sunday with a free lunch at the nonprofit agency's facility at 445 Towne Ave.

Clutching pink invitations, dozens of women - many of them denizens of the streets, homeless shelters and recovery houses - had lined up by the time the doors opened at 9 a.m. for free shampoos, haircuts, facials, pedicures - and a little war paint.

Half an hour later, many looked as if they had stepped off the pages of fashion magazines.

Walden, a born-again Christian who calls herself a ``Minister of Beauty,'' was among about 50 hair stylists and makeup artists who volunteered for the event.

Leaning over the smock-clad Oliver, Walden went to work with an eyeliner brush and a jar of eye shadow.

``I'm just highlighting her eyes with a little bronze. I'm giving her earth tones because she's not a big makeup wearer. She wants something soft,'' Walden said.

``She's got gorgeous cheekbones and that's exactly what I played up,'' Walden said.

Oliver also got a cut and curl - a shorter, sassy look that framed her heart-shape face.

Before checking into rehabilitation a month ago, Oliver said she had been turning tricks and sleeping in a rusty, abandoned Dodge in South Central Los Angeles.

Her beauty rituals consisted of globbing on red lipstick and heavy eyeliner. She refused to look in a mirror. She'd clean up at the occasional motel or with a garden hose.

``I didn't care about myself. I was a dead person walking,'' Oliver recalled.

Never mind Oliver's wretched background, Walden treated her like a queen.

``This is the first time in a long time that somebody has paid attention to me, just me. When I was working, the johns, they didn't have time to tell me that I was pretty.''

Trina Kountz, 31, also a recovering drug addict living at Safe Harbor, traded her corn rows and braids for a conservative pageboy.

She said that while the make-overs may not seem like much, they're an unimaginable luxury for many women.

``It's rough out there. Some of the women who came here hadn't been able to wash their hair for months,'' she said.

Mission staff member Sheri Stupin said that even though the new dos and makeup jobs would be short-lived, they could have a permanent effect on the lives of their wearers.

``When these women come in here they feel so good about themselves. They feel like they're worth something. Sometimes, it's enough to get something started.''

But Kountz cautioned that beauty is only skin deep, and the problems of drug- and alcohol-addicted women can't be solved with a little makeup.

``If you don't change on the inside, the outside isn't going to make any difference,'' she said.

CAPTION(S):

4 Photos

PHOTO (1 -- color) Barbara Walden, left, applies blusher in Barbara Oliver's Mother's Day make-over

(2 -- color) Oliver smiles at the results of Walden's labors.

(3 -- color) Oliver sheds tears of joy after receiving compliments and looking at her new image in the mirror.

Terri Thuente/Daily News

(4) Fifty hair stylists and makeup artists donated their talents to give Mother's Day makeovers to 200 women at the Fred Jordan Mission.

Terri Thuente/Daily News
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 7, 1996
Words:713
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