Miracle makeovers

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AURORA | It’s not often that Miranda Luedt thinks about makeup.

The 26-year-old recovering methamphetamine addict has been down a long and arduous road, one that did not usually include mascara, eyeshadow and lipstick. But when she looked in the mirror on July 26 after her makeover at Town Center at Aurora’s Macy’s store, she grinned joyfully.

“I love it,” said Luedt, an Aurora resident. “I think all the girls here look really good, and I’m really happy for us all.”

Luedt and 17 other women from Comitis Crisis Center’s Miracles Program were given makeovers by Macy’s cosmetic professionals the morning of July 26. The women learned how to apply makeup that’s not only work-appropriate but that also makes them feel good about themselves.

“A lot of these women have never been exposed to anything like this,” said Carolyn Gibson, coordinator of the Miracles Program, a substance abuse treatment program that helps women recover from addictions including methamphetamine, cocaine and alcohol.

The goal of the event was to regain self-esteem, said Alison Belcher, lead therapist for the Miracles Program. Many of the recovering addicts in the program are trying to get their lives back on track, maintain sobriety and get their children back, she said.

“I think you kind of lose yourself in that and a lot of them forget to do self care and forget how good that feels,” she said. “It’s really about making them feel beautiful and lifting their self esteems.”

The women were thrilled with the way they looked afterwards, Belcher said.

“They’re in heaven. The smiles are amazing,” she said.

For Donna Lucero, a recovering alcoholic, the experience brought back memories of when she was 19 years old and always preoccupied with her image.

“From 19 through 28, heck, you didn’t see me without makeup. I woke up with my face on,” said the Denver resident, now 46.

Over the years, though, alcohol became the focal point of her life and she lost interest in putting on makeup every day.

She sat in the makeup chair July 26, letting the beauty professionals work with their brushes, and felt special.

“I feel like a pampered movie star,” she said.

James Gillespie, spokesman for Comitis Crisis Center, said the event was symbolic for the women, all of whom have taken initiative to recover from their addictions.

“They’re engaging in a process that takes courage,” he said. “It takes a lot of guts to say ‘I need to change,’ and outwardly they can see their change is beautiful, and maybe they can equate that with their internal change as well and say ‘This is a great thing, I’m really moving forward.'”

The makeover day was a rich experience for the women of the Miracles Program and also for Macy’s staff, especially in the wake of the theater shootings across the street, said Catherine Johnson, store manager for Macy’s.

“It really has meant a lot to them and to all of us especially in light of everything that’s been happening recently,” she said.

Reach reporter Sara Castellanos at 720-449-9036 or [email protected]