This morning I embarked on a grand new adventure: I tried eyeliner for the first time. I was all ready. I pulled the diagram up on my phone, positioned the pen in my hand, squinted in the brightness of the bathroom, promptly un-squinted to not mess this up, and began.
First, I drew a long, thin line all the way across my lid, careful to stay close to the lashes. Then, I slowly thickened the line at the corner of my lid, redrawing the line over and over to create the perfect cat-eye swoop. I did the same to the other eye. I drew back, pouted my lips a little, mussed my hair to get that sexy-but-not-trying-too-hard look, and took stock.
I looked like a train wreck. The lines weren't close enough to my lashes, you could see skin in between. One swoop swooped more than the other swoop and it was much higher and longer on the left side. My mascara was black-brown but the liner was midnight-black, and the difference was noticeable. The liner didn't make my eyes look bigger, sexier, or brighter. I just looked like a raccoon. Mirror-me looked like she wanted to cry, but I knew we couldn't do that or we'd just end up looking like drowned raccoons.
I stared down at the pen,and thought, what did I do wrong? I followed the frakking diagram and it turned out like shit!!!!! I dropped it into the sink in disgust and it proceeded to trace a long, thick, smudgy line of black black black down the sides and into the bottom where it leaked chalky ink into the water trapped around the stopper. Another mess for me to clean up.
It took me three times longer to remove the eyeliner than it took me to put it on. At first I used cotton balls, delicately patting at the make-up, but then when I filled the bathroom trash can with little wet gray balls of mush, I turned to the toilet paper and practically scrubbed the rest off.
While scrubbing, something dawned on me. I knew why I didn't look a million times sexier all made-up. That's just what it was: made up. Pretend. Not real. Why was I putting on makeup I didn't need, to achieve a look I was told was sexy. This wasn't me; I never wore much makeup. Mascara and some eyeshadow was about all I could handle—for time-management and because I didn't feel I needed anything more.
The whole reason I had even tried eyeliner in the past was that I had liked this look on other women and I thought it would work for me too. Maybe it would, if I took the time to learn it properly, if I had the right shade, if I did this or that or the other thing. If only I had more makeup, took more time to use it, had higher quality stuff, maybe that would do it. Or maybe that was just what I was told to think.
This eyeliner, or any other makeup I acquired, would not instantly transform me to someone prettier or thinner or more successful or better. I'm pretty sure even Cleopatra herself didn't look as good as Elizabeth Taylor made her out to be (sanitary conditions just weren't what they are today back in Ancient Egypt). Sure, makeup could enhance what was naturally there, but so could confidence. Self-assurance might not hide that blemish on my chin or the laugh-lines around my mouth, but it would take me a lot further than makeup could.
With enough confidence, people would not even notice the blemish or the lines. They would look me in the eye, and I bet you that most of them wouldn't even notice I wasn't wearing eyeliner.