The Makeup Gene is Missing, or Inadequacy with an Eyebrow Pencil

The Makeup Application Gene.  Some women have it; some women don’t.  If you do, go browse WordPress for a blog on beauty tips.  They will make sense to you, and you will go from merely beautiful to stunning, (or from whatever form God delivered you in to even better).

If you, like I, are missing that gene, read on.  Misery loves company.

Of course we all know that the most beautiful women are those who are completely comfortable with themselves without a touch of makeup (and why is it called a “touch” when we can hardly just dab it on?) but those women don’t really walk among us.  They are mythical.  

Anyway, nothing dissolves me into tears faster than trying, for some event that intimidates me anyway, to apply makeup competently.  

Here’s how it typically goes:

Foundation isn’t too hard if I’ve bought the right shade.  Which of course I have, because everytime I go to a makeup counter (under duress, believe me) an impossibly chic woman convinces me of the need for another shade because — duh! — the seasons have changed since I last bought some.  

And since they catalog every last purchase one makes, one can hardly argue that it wasn’t really fall when I was last sitting in this strait-jacket chair under glaring lights.  And besides, the makeup woman remembers that it was fall (because she had just bought her quilted Prada jacket and she totally remembers that that was in October because I was talking about my trip to the pumpkin patch.)

Blush is supposed to go, if I remember the instructions, on the apple of my cheeks, but they have lost a bit of definition with 40 additional pounds.  Is there still an apple there or is it rather more like a muffin with raisins?

Lipstick used to work, but at 48 I have less of an actual mouth and more of a suggestion of a mouth (considering all the little feathery tributaries that meander out from the general idea of that former mouth).

But alas, eyes are the zone that cause my emotional breakdowns.  I used to wear mascara until my opthalmologist found that I had it embedded in my corneas after a particularly rough crying spell (as in days, not hours).  This was not mere melodrama; there was, at least, a death involved.  I knew something was embedded there and was glad to find the culprit until the prescription for relief was delivered: “You can’t wear mascara anymore.”

If there are any men reading this, they will not understand why this is a problem.  But if you men want to understand women, read this one statement: “We feel naked without mascara.”  Or this one: “We would rather go topless than skip mascara” (and that is said, in my case, by a mastectomy patient).  

Why do women suffer these indignities?  Who decided that we need this stuff?  But more importantly, why were they so right?

So imagine my horror when my (female) opthalmologist casually told me that I could use a little cream eyebrow pencil but no mascara.  She was actually casual about it.

And so now when I try to apply the Bobbi Brown miracle eyeliner with a brush, I end up with a line that undulates between pencil thin and wide-tip Sharpie (or, rather, calligraphy-style Sharpie), but erratically. And that’s my left eye, done with my dominant right hand.  Forget the right eye; it’s in danger of that old warning our mothers used to repeat: “You’re going to poke your eye out with that thing.” (Did that ever really happen to anyone?)

So suffice it to say that I am not having much success with the eyeliner concept, and I feel like an incompetent dork, an incomplete woman, a half man/half woman sort of character even (think Tod Browning’s Freaks) who never learned how to do this stuff, and is a linear thinker to boot.  Am I missing some female parts (besides the breast, the lack of which should not technically affect makeup application)?

Oh, in all fairness let me say that my opthalmologist did suggest an alternative route to the pencil-only approach: surgery to remove about 97% of the huge bags that are my eyelids, bags that the whole world (save me up to that moment) saw as extremely obvious and that contribute to mascara and other unnnatural matter being “shoved” (her word) into my corneas due to the massive weight of the eyelids.

Who knew?  Actually she was incredulous that I didn’t know.  Shocked.  How could I have missed something that, now that I know, I can actually use as a party trick?  Squeezing together sections of my eyelids to make geometric patterns is a handy game for entertaining children (or, probably, adults) when waiting in lines or at parties at which conversation flags, should you find yourself in either setting (and have extra eyelid skin on hand).

So anyway, she was right: I do have huge amounts of eyelid skin just sitting there.  Hanging there.  Waiting there to decimate my corneas should I add a snow-melt level of Bobbi Brown (or, let’s be fair, even Almay) to those lashes which are supposed to function like gutters but in my case have downspout problems. 

And it’s true that I don’t really have a deft hand at makeup application (or selection).

Ah, womanhood.  You gotta laugh at this stuff.  Cause it’s actually depressing and humiliating and just cause for doubting one’s femininity — if that were all we were made of or made for.  

Most days I know that my aging body and face don’t define me.  And that God looks at me with utter delight, as a particular manifestation of His likeness (imagine!).  But on those days when the social x-rays (thank you Tom Wolfe!) invite me to a party, and I feel like the lead apron version of Wolfe’s metaphor, I curse the makeup industry, the mirror and my own two-left-handedness and wish that “the natural look” were as in as Ralph Lauren would have us think (or at least the version of natural that is achieved naturally and not with hundreds of dollars of this season’s “product”).  

All I can say, along with George in My Best Friend’s Wedding is, “The misery! The exquisite tragedy! The Susan Hayward of it all!”  This too shall pass.

~ by Cary on November 18, 2008.

2 Responses to “The Makeup Gene is Missing, or Inadequacy with an Eyebrow Pencil”

  1. […] already shrieked aloud at the sheer weight and heft of my eyelids (see my post on that indignity:…), assuming I would rush for the surgery to reduce their bulk.  Wait until she hears that a wedding […]

  2. you are so right about that i also agree with the high importance of the eyebrow pencil when it comes to makeup…-يرتقي-إلى-مست/

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