Something was in my eye. IT was the middle of the night. Flicking on the light int he bathroom in the middle of the night, I stared at my sleep-swollen eyes to see what it was.
My eyelashes were missing.
The humiliation of losing the hair on my head wasn’t enough. No, my girly curly lashes had to go too. It’s a new kind of naked.
I’m trying to keep it together. I have to make a presentation –a shape and a shading–in the world in order to be safe.
Cats do this. If she is startled or threatened, kitty with arch her back, puff her fur and look big. I didn’t make this up, and I’m already deep in it.
In the dark of 3 AM, I ask the internet what I need to know aboutfalse eyelashes, hoping I can string together a passable substitute to keep face.
In my weakened state the internet serves up a lot of stuff. The Barbie movie slips in.
As a toy, Barbie is provided with a car and a dream house, with clothes and shoes. The movie has brought out the women who see Barbie and her world as something to aspire to.
I know some women who have a sense that their path to the car, house and
party time is the same as Barbie’s:
they are gifts because they are beautiful. And men are the givers.
In my life, I learned early to mistrust men and I only relied on myself to
get what I needed with no strings attached.
But I ran into women who had a different expectation. They see men were the
source of stuff. And for these women beauty is the currency to exchange to get stuff.
This was so foreign to me that it took decades for me to understand it. For
many women, that system of exchange is more real than compound interest.
The gift economy is an old way of surviving. Some people—some women—get a
lot of benefit from it. It’s a way to be safe.
I’m not as skilled at it, and since my eyelashes fell out I’ve lost some of that value.
It’s a small thing. Only the idea of a thing, really. It’s part of my reaction to what my eyelashes mean now that I’ve lost them.
Less silly is that things fall into my eyes more. The eyelashes protected my eyeballs in a real way.
I got some false eyelashes. They aren’t so easy to get the hang of, but they do add a lot of Barbie power to my eyes.
And they protect my eyeballs from particles. I guess I have to add on all the unnatural pieces until the real things come back together. And trust that I’ll be safe.