Thursday, 5 November 2009

Cosmetic Counterculture

By mrs. tami thirlwell-nicol

At about the age of five I could be found routinely perched on the bathtub ledge carefully studying my mother’s application of liquid eyeliner. It was 1966 and she had perfected her mod look. She wasn’t much of an artist but she owned that one skill; delicately drawing jet-black lines above the lash line while a cigarette balanced diligently on the side of the sink quietly staining the porcelain with a golden nicotine. All at once her image had transformed from frumpy mum   

to sixties sex kitten. 
I filed that information away for future use. It was probably the only valuable mother-to-daughter adaptive behavior I ever acquired.
I started flirting with garden variety make up, pink lipsticks and blue eye shadow a la Marsha Brady in my early teens but really hit my stride as I inducted myself into the punk scene a few years later.  Armed with just that basic knowledge of eyeliner (and very little else because my mother’s only other make-up trick was white lipstick) I was left to improvise with what few pieces I deemed necessary. I had heard about ‘base’ or foundation but mainly from witnessing the atrocities of the orange paint that stops just at the jaw line. I guess the word ‘blend’ didn’t exist back in the ‘70’s. As much as I love David Bowie with Twig the Wonderkid on his Pin Ups album cover I was not about to let that look get the best of me. I solved the problem of dealing with the difficulty of foundation matching by simply using Covergirl’s Under Eye Concealer crayon. Everywhere. Talk about a matte finish! Not only flawless perfection but I looked chronically well-rested. (If not a tad otherworldly shall we say). Plus I was ahead of the game economically – that tube was only about two bucks whereas foundation would have set me back at least five.
After slathering on my concealer, eyeliner and several thousands coats of mascara the last step was either hot pink or blood red lipstick and I was set. A night at the Smilin’ Buddha lay ahead which involved plenty of drinking and clowning around. Usually I would come home too wasted to even consider the idea of removing my make-up and in fact this is the best tip ever: pass out with your make-up still on. Really – if you are under 27 years old, try it. (Any older and you may look like a Phyllis Diller wannabe on a day pass). You will awaken to a fabulous devil-may-care visage. What a gift. My make-up and I had truly become one. The colors had saturated nicely into my skin, convincing it that they had always existed. Like a good home-cooked lasagna, my make-up application was always better the next day.

illustration by the author (click to enlarge!)

Coming right up November 14th: Miss Justine Brown presents "Going to Extremes" 

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