Nearly every day for the past nine years, I've painstakingly applied glue and fibrous, fake hair to the top of my natural eyelashes. A few years ago, I found a journal entry from my second-ever attempt at what has become as regular a part of my routine as putting on underwear. The diary entry described how, at 16 years old, "My need for beautiful, lush eyelashes trumped all common sense, and after an hour and a half of tweezering glue that won't unstick for five weeks onto my eyelashes, I've finally got them."
"My fake eyelashes, rather than the feature they decorate, are possibly the truest window to my soul."
For me today, as with younger Amy Rose, fake eyelashes are a fixation, still near the top of my daily priority list (fortunately, I am a lot better at applying them now). My fake eyelashes, rather than the feature they decorate, are possibly the truest window to my soul. When people ask, "Are they yours?" I say, "Absolutely"—although I do follow up by mentioning that I bought them at Duane Reade.
I appreciate maximal beauty routines for the glamorous, campy sake of them, but discovering fake eyelashes also literally helped me see myself in a whole new way. All my life, I've dealt with a neurological condition called prosopagnosia, or face blindness. This means it can be hard for me to recognize people, even close friends—even, sometimes, myself. For most of my life, I didn't know what I looked like (imagine for a moment not being able to easily identify yourself in pictures).
"Discovering fake eyelashes literally helped me see myself in a whole new way."
My bare face, to me, looks like a paint-by-numbers picture: I use makeup to fill in the otherwise empty landscape, and the more I consciously alter my appearance with cosmetics, hair dye, and, most effectively, false eyelashes, the more I'm able to understand some approximation of what I actually look like. The picture emerges only when I follow the ordered steps, and lashes, the most extreme of these, is the most important one.
As I discovered at 16, I could design and control my own appearance rather than be mystified by it with the help of fake lashes. They help me decide what face I want to show the world on any given day. Rather than visit an extensions parlor, I prefer to do my eyelashes by hand. On top of the fact that most salons use drugstore products with marked-up prices, this is because I like to switch up the desired effect—I use them to create different faces for myself.
"The lashes help me decide what face I want to show the world on any given day."
Each of my various lash arrangements results in its own version of myself: Do I want to apply dainty individual lashes, one by one, for a Bambi-esque look, or do I want to stack three heavy strips atop one another, resulting in what might most accurately be titled "Drag Tammy Faye"? (Tammy Faye Messner, who lived from 1942 till 2007, was a famous televangelist-turned-LGBT rights advocate, and in her every public appearance seemed to visually proselytize for eyelash augmentation.)
And you don't need to suffer from face blindness to enjoy the persona-shifting splendors false eyelashes offer. They are the easiest, most instantaneous face-transformer I know of (if you've got another, holler at this beauty-obsessed prosopagnosiac, please: @trylobite), despite what 16-year-old me would have you believe about the amount of time it takes to stick them on. You don't need to get fussy with individuals or pile on the strips as an homage to Tammy Faye. Anyone with four minutes and six dollars can know what it means to see a new face in the mirror.