This is the first story from Yael, whose makeup is so natural, it’s God-given.
I can sympathize with her, because I have the same eyelids. One of my friends calls them “mermaid eyes.” In high school, I was accused vehemently by a fellow classmate of hypocritically wearing eyeshadow on a regular basis. At least no teacher ever came after me for it.
It was one of the big days of our senior year we were all waiting for – the day we would be taking our yearbook picture. A few days earlier, we received highly detailed instructions from the Tznius Police, let’s call her Mrs. K, about how we were supposed to look. Actually, it was much more about how we were not supposed to look.
Hair was not to be longer than shoulder length. If it was, you would have to have it pulled behind your shoulders, and everyone knew that was not a photogenic look.
Top buttons — of course — must be closed.
No long earrings –- that goes without saying.
Absolutely no eye makeup.
I don’t recall if base or blush was allowed, but the bottom line was that it better not look like you are wearing anything.
Oddly enough, there was this rumor going around that if you are one of the “good” girls (i.e. you never got fined for a too long skirt or wearing socks, or if you were a yearbook editor, a coveted position that was only reserved for “good” girls) and Mrs. K likes you, she wouldn’t be so makpid about makeup and you’ll get away with it. But woe unto you if you were one of those who Mrs. K didn’t exactly favor. She would not let you into the room with the photographer until you scrubbed your face.
Well, I thought I was one of the good girls. I never received a fine, only got told off once for long earrings — hopefully Mrs. K would not remember — and I was a yearbook editor. Voila. Perhaps I’d be able to wear a teeny bit of makeup.
My hair was past my shoulders, so I got a haircut. Insomniac that I can sometimes be, I didn’t get a good night’s sleep the night before and when I woke up that Sunday morning we’d be taking our picture, I looked pale and had heavy bags under my eyes.
I put on foundation, a miniscule amount of blush, Vaseline, and then for the tricky part… soft brown eyeliner and a tad of mascara.
No eyeshadow – that would be too obvious.
Confident that my makeup wouldn’t be noticed, I showed up for inspection. Before we had our picture taken, we needed to be examined by Mrs. K whose approval was required if we wanted our picture taken. I waited on line nervously.
Finally, it was my turn. Mrs. K looked at me. And looked. My heart started to beat faster. What can she be looking at?
Finally, she said to me: “You are wearing eyeshadow.”
“No, I’m not,” I said.
Yikes. Was I just chutzpadik to her? I didn’t mean to be. I just really wasn’t wearing eyeshadow. I deliberately skipped over that and here she was accusing me.
“Well, I see eyeshadow.”
“I’m not wearing eyeshadow.”
Suddenly, it struck me. My older sister used to tell me that when I was a baby, I had “natural eyeshadow”. My eyelids were always purplish or lavender, thanks to my pale skin and the prominent veins beneath it. So I must have purplish eyelids. Throw in a sleepless night and the purple probably became a more prominent hue.
Mrs. K and I were at a gridlock. Who was right?
After a few moments, Mrs. K took a tissue and brought it to me face. I wasn’t sure what was going on.
By now my heart was pumping up in my throat. She asked me to close my eyes and I obeyed. She then proceeded to swipe one of my eyelids with the tissue. We then both looked at the tissue. There was an orangey-brown smudge from my foundation, but no purple. (Thank G-d the eyeliner was waterproof.)
I felt violated and triumphant at the same time.
I think she swiped my other eyelid too, but since I want to be as accurate as possible, I’ll say I don’t recall exactly.
“You can go now,” she told me.
All that stuff about being “dan l’kaf zechus” did she really think I would lie to her face about something like that? When my yearbook picture was at stake?
I angrily went to the bathroom, applied more eyeliner and mascara, and then went to take my picture.
When I came back I heard Mrs. K telling one of her “guards” that she should stand by the door and make sure students don’t go to the bathroom after they are inspected because some of them are putting on more makeup.
Well, my picture was already taken. I went home, furious at having my eyelids swiped and happy that I was granted natural eyeshadow.