Monday, May 25, 2009

Secrets of a Mascara Lover

I was lying in bed last night when all of a sudden I felt something roaming around my eye socket, poking and stabbing my eyeball: a single lash. I blinked, rapidly, to flush it out. I rubbed my eye, blinked, rubbed, blinked. Nearly scratched my eye out. Squeezed my eye shut and rotated my eyeball up and around the socket. Mashed my eye with my entire fist. I finally did get the lash out, but it wasn’t exactly a relaxing way to nod off.

Once upon a time, I celebrated stray lashes. I gently placed them on my index finger, closed my eyes, and blew them into the Universe, never to be seen again. In return, I wanted the Universe to grant me the wish I wished while propelling the lash into the air. The wishes never came true. Or maybe they did, only I never realized it, because they showed up in an alternate form. Maybe when I wished to go through life with a loyal, affectionate partner who would love me unconditionally, that’s when the Universe sent me a dog. Maybe when I wished for self-acceptance, or beauty, or for a sign, any sign at all, that I had a life purpose and would discover it one day, that’s when the Universe took my hair.

In the early days of my alopecia, I lost all my eyelashes. One day I was cursing the Universe for giving me short, dull lashes; the next day I was begging the Universe to give me short, dull lashes. When I was outdoors, I had to cover my eyes with my hands like a celebrity fending off photographers. Only it wasn’t paparazzi I was battling, it was pollen, and dust particles, aiming straight for my unprotected eyes. Eventually I had to trade in my contact lenses for glasses, just to maintain some semblance of eye health.

When I was a kid, I looked like my niece, Lindsey. Family members get our photos confused. “Oh, what a gorgeous picture…is it Christy or Lindsey?” I had the same white blonde hair, the same smooth skin on my apple cheeks, the same quiet smile that said I knew something you didn’t. But Lindsey has something I never did: long, thick, lush eyelashes that attract second glances and unabashed flattery. Long eyelashes are associated with beauty in our culture. That’s why there are television commercials about mascaras, and magazine articles about why it is so essential to use eyelash curlers and how to create long, thick, lush lashes without getting clumps.

My eyelashes grew back, but I worry that I’ll lose them again, that they’ll come and go, or just go, forever. I have come to accept my baldness, but I am not sure I can accept being lash-free. My lashes are short, and dull, but they give my face structure. They frame - and showcase - my eyes. They are a reason to buy mascara. And somehow, despite all my progress towards self-acceptance, despite my quest to redefine beauty and embrace individuality, I secretly love applying mascara and feel more beautiful with longer lashes.

© 2009 Christy Bailey

No comments: