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I remember the first time I went out with make-up on. I was maybe 9 and I’d used a blue crayon from a plastic-encased row of face paints to draw a line across each eyelid and a red crayon to do my lips and off we went to my grandmother’s house and I thought I was it. From memory,. the instruction to wash my face off was more to do with Jesus not appreciating that kind of sinful self-worship than my terrible application skills. Although at least I was ace-ing the ’80s with a strong lip and a strong eye.
Everyone else’s hair and clothes and life and bread and words and garden and houseplants and puppies and children look perfect right now on Instagram in between the cancelled events and the blooming lockdown projects and the reminders to submit to the select committee in favour of ending conversion therapy now (please do! you have until Wednesday). So I think it’s wise not to be looking at Instagram.
So here I am. Facing myself over a basic brows tutorial. I’ve baked the honey oat biscuits and done the submission in favour of end conversion therapy now. And this, this is fun. And me. The trick, apparently, is in brushing up. And you’re not supposed to use hair mascara on brows. It’s entirely the wrong thing. I try anyway. Then I lean in really close and pluck at where I think hairs might be with my essentially purchased eyebrow tweezer scissors from the increasingly attractive supermarket make-up aisle. I can’t see where the hairs are because I don’t have my glasses on, but it hurts when I pull my hand away so I must be doing something right.
It’s funny the things we learn and perpetuate until we take the time to really look. And it’s not like I haven’t been make-up adjacent. At university one of my besties religiously did those thick black lids with wings. Oh how I envied them. My sister can makeup while multitasking. My girlfriend does a killer smoky eye. And in Hawea Flat, where gumboots for your lockdown strolls are all the rage, I have friends who could teach me everything about things like contours and blends.
As I pluck I pluck out the falsehoods I’ve grown up with about me and make up. You can’t be pretty and smart PLUCK and god gave you good brains. PLUCK. You can’t like girls and also like blue mascara. PLUCK. But it’s better if you don’t like either. PLUCK. Make up is a tool of the Patriarchy. PLUCK. And also if you’re spending time on something as frivolous as makeup you obviously don’t have time to care about, say, Afghanistan. PLUCK. Or sending submissions to the select committee in favour of ending conversion therapy now.
Moisturiser, BB cream, blush stick, lash mascara for where it’s supposed to go and the littlest bit of green pencil with a shaky hand. YouTube has told me repeatedly that eyeliner is probably the trickiest part of my make up routine but not a bad job, Lizzy, not bad. I feel pretty. And I wonder what I’ve been doing all my life that I haven’t been outlining my eyes.