One evening a few months ago, I was cooking an egg-white omelet at home and had the television on in the background. The faint sound of a recognizable female voice went virtually unnoticed-until Brooke Shield’s seemingly ageless face appeared on the screen. She was dressed in a crisp, plain white ensemble and surrounded by unremarkable looking (but very happy!) people in a stark, modern minimalist room. The general lack of visual stimulus in the background forced my eyes and attention to the only source of color on the television: Brooke’s face. I thought to myself “God, she looks good even with imperfection-magnifying HD technology!” And then she opened her mouth.
In a tone which I’m sure was meant to sound concerned but came off rather condescending, Brooke asked, “Do you suffer from inadequate eyelashes?” I shook my head and thought, “Bitch! Are you serious!?”
I stood there, arms crossed, spatula in hand, and listened as Brooke shared all the details of this purported effective solution, sure to end all suffering over traumatic eyelash inadequacy issues with only a few freakish side effects. All I could think was, “That’s dirty. Its just so dirty. They’re going for the eyelashes now!?”
Its commercials like these, (admittedly in conjunction with other sources of scrutiny, many of which I endorse by purchasing – i.e. rag mags, or watching – i.e. 90210,) these blatant manipulations of our physical insecurities, that have forced me to at one time or another to examine and criticize my cellulite, tummy rolls, formerly (as in at 11 years old) perky breasts, double chin, back of the arm flab, funny shaped little butt, acne, huge earlobes, drumstick-shaped oh my god they’re chafing in the summer heat thighs, facial peach fuzz (a new treat,) uneven skin tone, thinning hair (on my head,) premature age spots, sun spots, freckles, spill over the bra even when you’re reaching for something on the very top shelf back fat, liver lips, excess tissue on the end of my nose, overlapping two front teeth, yellowing of the teeth, shifting of the formerly straight teeth, love handles, wrinkles, knee fat, excessive skin/tissue in the arm crease and Buddha belly.
These lovely commercials and print ads are major ingredients in what must be a completely irresistible recipe for self-loathing, because women (including myself) just keep on mixing up big old batches of it. Start with one cup of "is there something wrong with my/face/body/eyelashes?" add a drop or two of any useless beauty product, throw in the pre-requisite conviction, "I know THIS will be just the thing to make me feel better about myself!" bake at 350 for a few weeks and you still end up with a batch of "something still isn't quite right."
Do you know why? Because we spend money most of us don’t have, time none of us have and energy we should be using for other things looking in the wrong place for self-assurance, confidence and a positive self-image. I know now that I won’t feel better about myself, (or any closer to looking like a younger Brooke for that matter,) if I do ask my eye doctor for some of that magical eyelash serum. I might not be 100% at peace with every inch of my body yet (or even close,) but at least I’ve learned I have a better chance at finding that peace inside myself than I do in a closet full of overpriced beauty products.
I went back to my eggs and thought, “Step off my eyelashes Brooke. I don’t care how long and fluffy yours look, you’re not convincing me that ANYTHING ELSE on this body is ‘inadequate’. And besides, I have to pay my colorist $160 tomorrow to cover up the dark roots tainting my fake blond ‘do.’ Oh and I need a new $540 Bar Method class pack this week. And a new tube of Roche-de-Posay. But those things are totally different.”