Lashing Out

A couple months ago, I got some eyelash extensions. At the time, my boyfriend didn’t want to be with me and it was pretty obvious. I was feeling ugly and shitty and confused and I thought that my face wasn’t pretty enough. I thought that if my face could just get a little boost, maybe things would be better. If I could just be a little prettier, maybe I would have a boyfriend who did want to be with me. Maybe I wouldn’t feel like I was clinging for dear life onto something that was broken and failing. Maybe I wouldn’t look so exhausted all the time. Maybe I wouldn’t look so sad, and in turn, maybe I wouldn’t be so sad. So, I got some beautiful, long, black lashes applied to my eyes. And oooooohhhhh-eeeeeeee, they looked GREAT! I felt SO much prettier. I even sort-of liked my face when it didn’t have makeup on it.

I was batting my eyes at strangers. I was taking selfies right out of the shower. I was getting compliments from servers in restaurants, and compliments from friends who would ask, “What mascara are you using!?” It was great!

But, you know what, it didn’t save my relationship, so my eyelash extensions and I had to go through a breakup.

On top of that, I’m a crier. Sometimes, I cry while watching commercials. So, when I’m going through a breakup, the tears are a-flowin’. So many tears. A river of tears. And eyelash extensions aren’t really supposed to get wet! You’re also not supposed to wash them. And they feel kind of like a caterpillar is taking a rest on your eyelid. Between the tears and the not being able to wash my face and the breakup feelings, I started to hate the eyelash extensions. They were itchy and felt foreign and fake and they started to look a little wonky, with some of them going in all different directions. I decided I wanted them off of my face, I needed them off.

So, I did what any savvy gal would do — I looked online for advice about how to remove eyelash extensions. Now, mind you, the woman who had put them on had told me, “DO NOT TRY TO REMOVE THEM YOURSELF.”

However, the Internet made it sound simple enough — just steam your face for 15 minutes and wipe your eyes with coconut oil. I had some coconut oil and some time to kill! Perfect!

The hour and a half I spent trying to get those things off was brutal. It could be considered abuse in most states. I think I steamed my face about four times, and used about 100 cotton balls, just rubbing gobs and gobs of coconut oil on my face and applying far more pressure than anyone should apply to an eyeball. If I pushed hard enough, one or two eyelashes would rip off, but most of them would take my real eyelashes off with them. It was terrible and very painful. After I was finished, my eyes were red and swollen and almost all of my eyelashes were gone.

There were a few really long extensions left that I couldn’t get to come off. Other than that, I was eye-bald. I stared at myself in the mirror and felt uglier than I’d ever felt before.

Now I was 32, single and had no eyelashes. I fell to the floor and had an actual breakdown. The thoughts going through my head were, “Why do I never feel good enough? Why did I get these stupid things in the first place? I got them because I didn’t think I was pretty enough, but now I’m less pretty than ever before, what a huge backfire! Why didn’t I pay someone to remove them? What am I going to do now? How can I go about my day, my week, my year without eyelashes? Why do I care so much about the way I look? Why do I feel like I have to be attractive to be worthy of love? Why do I live in this fucked-up world, where beauty feels more important than honesty, and integrity, and intelligence, and kindness? Why? Why?”

Reluctantly, I picked myself up and I told myself that there are people with far larger problems in the world. Then, I went to work — feeling hideous. But, you know what, no one noticed. I told all of my co-workers about it, because it felt so obvious to me that I felt I needed to explain the way I looked. Every single one of them said that they would never have noticed if I hadn’t said something. Since then, I’ve been walking around feeling self conscious and just hoping my real lashes will grow fast. The moral of this story is, eyelash extensions won’t save you from your problems. In fact, they might make all of your problems worse! And you’re beautiful just the way you are.


Eye-bald and OK in Pasadena