Getting Checked Over Eyelash Curlers
When I was in high school, one of the girls in school choir with me belonged to a fundamentalist- type evangelical church; I think it was a Pentecostal branch.
Anyway, she wasn’t allowed to wear pants—only long skirts—-and wasn’t allowed to cut her hair or wear makeup.
We were on a choir trip—I was maybe 15, 10th grade—and we were changing on the bus and getting ready.
At this point in my life, my personality was much the same as it is now except I had a bad case of “cool girl” and “one of the guys” and “not like other girls,” which is it’s own internalized misogyny for another time.
So we’re on the bus, getting ready, and I see this girl using an eyelash curler—just a curler, no mascara and no other makeup.
I don’t remember if I commented to another friend about it then or at a later time, but I remember scoffing at how “prissy” or “high maintenance” it seemed to use an eyelash curler, period. (I have come a long way in my cosmetic and feminist journey.)
My other friend looked at me and said flatly but not unkindly, “Madison, that’s all she can do.”
And then the context hit me. That was all show was allowed to do according to her religion to accent her eyes. She wasn’t allowed to wear makeup, so she found other ways to express that part of herself, whether it was intentional subversion or not.
I think about it, sometimes, in the way I use and think about makeup now. Other people have spoken more on this topic than me so I’ll be brief here, but I feel like there’s this perception that people are using makeup out of insecurity, and some definitely probably are sometimes–even me, when I’ve got eye bags from chronic fatigue.
But for a lot of people and for me, it’s a tool I can use to assert my space and influence how I am perceived by other people. Maybe that comes from an insecurity about exerting control over my environment, but I get a lot of joy out of choosing to look how I do.
There’s privilege with that, too. I have the money and time to do makeup, and a steady hand without disability. But I’m lucky. It makes me feel lucky, or pretty—even in my full-face clown greasepaint for Metricula—or just… fun. It makes me feel present because I had to look in the mirror and make choices.
All that said, I was humbled by my friend and I’m grateful for it. I also own two forty dollar eyelash curlers.