You Look Sick

Isabella is 21. She’s Australian. She likes writing and self-deprecation. You can find her online as @viewsofnow.

By Isabella Wight, February 12, 2019

You Look Sick Image

My foray into makeup happened in the summer of 2012,

aged 15, when one of my friends told me I had very long lashes and I should definitely wear mascara.It would make them so much longer. Cue visions of thick black lashes that touched my brow bone and fluttered every time I winked (I envisioned winking, because these lashes would turn me into an instant prepubescent bombshell). In actuality, my mother told me I was too young for that kind of makeup, and instead presented me with a tube of clear goop from the bargain bin at the chemist. I slopped the goop onto my eyelashes religiously and told myself they looked longer. It was clear mascara. They just looked stickier. But from this point on I vowed to have the longest lashes in all the land, goddammit, and I would be irresistible!

Consequently, the minute I was granted the long-awaited makeup privileges, I not only started using mascara liberally, but eyeshadow and eyeliner, too. It became a routine- one I initially enjoyed, but it slowly descended into something I depended on. As integral to my “look” as the shoes on my feet or the excessive bobby pins in my hair. Red lipstick was regrettably involved for special occasions only, like tricking people into thinking I was 18 instead of 16. Unsurprisingly, this never seemed to work. More birthday party clown than Marilyn Monroe.

Time management has never been a strong suit. On the mornings I would sleep through an alarm or fail to read my roster until 15 minutes before my shift, I’d have to go bare-faced. Cue the influx of comments telling me I looked “sick” or “tired,” asking me if I’d slept okay or if I was feeling stressed out. The dark circles under my eyes were very much a part of my face, no matter how many hours of sleep I got. My skin’s a little uneven and my eyelashes are virtually non-existent without the routine three coats of mascara. And I found myself apologising for the way I looked when I didn’t cover these things with foundation and eyeliner. Explaining, prior to any kind of conversation, that I looked like “shit today” because I ran out of time. Apologising for and explaining my face.

I am now a certified young adult. Not a particularly good one, but one nonetheless. I hold a lot of things from my teenage-hood (a love of angry girl bands, a destroyed pair of blue Converse, inappropriate immaturity), but thankfully my makeup dependency is not one of them. Sometimes I put eyeshadow on my dark circles for emphasis, a middle finger to my years of apologising for them. I like the way my skin looks like skin. The patriarchy will get used to it.

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