Editor’s Note: Puerto Rican grandmothers rarely leave the house without a bit of powder and lipstick on, even as the dark locks start to turn grey. Emperifollá’s visual editor Maridelis Morales Rosado captured evidence at a home for the elderly in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. She paid a visit to her grandmother, as the whole community of viejitas got ready for their annual Christmas celebration.
My grandmother Lucy, like so many other women, has always been ready for whatever comes her way – with her Maja powder and multi-use red-coral lipstick (she’d apply both on her lips and her cheeks). More than 10 years ago, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and is now in a very advanced stage. One of her most distinct characteristics at that time was her perfect technique when applying lipstick. Since my grandmother can’t take care of herself anymore, I’m at peace knowing that there are people taking care of what she needed most – being emperifollá.
This series of photographs has been in my heart for more than a year and a half. I think it perfectly defines our message as a platform, taking care of both our internal and external beauty, which really has no literal definition or age. In my grandma’s case, it’s still noticeable how happy it makes her to be dressed and put together.
My work focuses on defining the relationship between how we present ourselves to the world and what that reveals about us. I think the love the elderly home’s owner gives these viejis and how she still manages to make them feel beautiful needs to be recognized.