But Laura Du Priest’s new book, “A Beautiful New You” (Three River Press, 2005, $16) is more than a make-over book.
“It’s not a beauty book,” said Du Priest firmly in a recent interview. “It’s a way for women to regain self-esteem.
“I see obese women, women ill with diabetes, and to me it’s an epidemic,” she added. “It’s very depressing.”
Du Priest should know, because she was one of those women.
After a successful modeling career, she became a mother. Her life changed and she focused totally on her children. She stopped exercising, made fast and easy food and clothing choices, and didn’t give herself the attention she needed.
“Life was slipping away from me,” she said. “I couldn’t get up off the couch. I had some really dark days not just ‘I don’t feel pretty anymore.’ ”
You think she’s kidding? This petite woman weighed 200 pounds, wore men’s clothes and dyed her hair blonde and cropped it short.
“And I was a poor role model for my children,” she said. “It was very depressing and I didn’t think I could change.”
She recalled taking her young boys to their three-hour gymnastics practice when she was fat and out of shape.
“My rear end was taking up two places on the bleachers,” she said.
“One night I dropped them off and went over to the gym for my own work-out,” she said. “If they were going to be fit and healthy I knew I had to be.”
Du Priest dropped the weight and got into shape on her own without a trainer or other supervision. Her message to anyone who picks up her book is this: “You can do it. You have control.”
The before-and-after photos of Du Priest on the front of her book are stunning and will make a believer out of anyone who looks at them. And she stresses the point that makeovers can be achieved without cosmetic surgery or gastric bypass operations.
If her name seems familiar it may be because you’ve read her first book, “Natural Beauty” (salon secrets you can make at home) or because you’ve seen her on local TV.
For nearly four years she’s done a makeover segment on News 10 called “Monday Midday Makeover.”
Last Monday she took a young Asian mother, gave her a blunt hair cut with highlights, tweezed her eyebrows, gave her some good makeup, false eyelashes and lipstick – the result was impressive. And – perhaps with the exception of the false eyelashes – easy to maintain.
Du Priest, who also runs a spa and salon at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Sacramento, says women, particularly mothers, don’t give themselves the time and attention they deserve.
“Women put themselves last,” she said. “We are born martyrs. Even stay-at-home moms don’t give themselves enough time.”
Du Priest said she didn’t intend to go into the beauty business. She was born in Texas and ended up in Sacramento when her father retired after a career in the Air Force. She graduated from Del Oro High School in Loomis and earned a music scholarship to Cal State Northridge.
“I took a semester off and never went back,” she said. Instead, she began earning cosmetology licenses and began thinking that Mary Kay was a good role model. She began modeling for Sears and working in a beauty salon.
“What a crazy whirlwind it was,” she recalled. Then came family life and children and what looked like the end of her career. Instead, it was just the beginning.
Now she has written two books, runs a successful salon, and is launching a line of beauty products for moms on the run (www.lauradupriest.com) that will be sold on the Home Shopping Network. All this while she has two teen-agers at home.
“I believe women want to feel and look glamorous,” she said. “No one wants to look like a frump. Enjoy your life. Feel good about yourself. If I can do it, you can do it.”
-- Reach Elisabeth Sherwin at firstname.lastname@example.org and keep tuned for columns on more local writers including Adam Rosenbaum (“How to Remember Not to Forget”) and David Dionisi (“American Hiroshima”).
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