How To Look Like A Badass
Welcome to Make Your Face, a makeup tutorial series with a simple mission: makeup by you (me) for your (my) own entertainment, Establishment-style.
This time, it’s a bright beautiful day when it happens. You’re driving north, a little after noon, wearing a killer outfit and emerald green eyeshadow. You’ve got a big box of shiny earrings buckled in by your side. You’re on the way to a fundraiser for The Crisis Center organized by a badass lady you really respect. You’re running late — as always, you know, it’s terrible and you’re probably going to hell for it — but you feel good! You’ve had a nice morning, you’re going to have a great day, and you’re singing along to your favorite new band you discovered only two nights ago when you unexpectedly saw them live, the most amazing way to encounter a new beloved band! (Also a bizarrely fitting wake in the news of Prince’s passing, to dance out your grief to the accompaniment of brand-new-to-you songs you can already tell are destined to become play-rewind superbangers on the soundtrack of your life.) So you’re driving, and you’re singing, the earrings are rattling happily in their box. Everything is good.
But then as you merge onto the highway, you start to feel too good. Your voice swells out easily, effortlessly, then the bubble that is you starts to expand up out of your head, out of your body, out of the car. You fight to hold your consciousness in its right place in your skull as you glide along the curve of the exit, and it feels like holding back a giggle. You feel suddenly, sharply ebullient! Then your hands start to tingle.
You keep barreling down the road, rutted solidly in the right lane, hopeful that — this time — you’ll get through it. It’s a straight line drive, and should worst come to worst and it turns out you can’t breathe this off, your parents live near the end of it. It’s better to stick to the course. You’re not panicking! You know better than to panic. You keep singing, as you can, and you try to relax your hands, and you breathe. You buy yourself about 10 minutes. Maybe 15. Then it overwhelms you, as it does — that’s always the scariest part, even when you know it’s coming. “ANXIETY, MY OLD NEMESIS,” you shout, shaking your fist at the sky — or you would, anyway, if you could catch your breath and if your fists weren’t locked in an involuntary rictus grip on the steering wheel.
So you focus, you draw your whole damn self together and aim it forward, pleading silently for an appropriate place to pull over. Finally you spot one — a bizarrely super-saturated, presently abandoned truck refueling station adjacent to your hometown’s NASCAR track — and pull over. With the driving beats of DOROTHY animating your entire semi-conscious awareness, you manage to wrest your left hand free of the wheel and use it to pry up your right, finger by finger. After a couple false starts you knock your cell phone into your lap, peel your right index finger out from its clench with your gripped-up left claw and use the extended digit to quick-dial your dad, bump the speaker button, and force out a would-be-casual-but-more-like-strained-yelp attempt at speech to solicit rescue.
To add insult to injury, you didn’t even manage to grab a cute selfie of your awesome outfit and makeup before it got panic-attacked into oblivion! But you survive this affront; you’ve survived worse. Grapes are tasty. The presence of cats is analgesic. You recover.
And THEN, mothergoddamnfucker, you have another, WORSE panic attack on the ride back (your husband and little brother having graciously, unhesitatingly blown off their evening plans to come fetch your car and your own malfunctioning ass)!! You worry for your much-adored younger sibling as you gasp for breath on wet grass by the side of the road, trying so hard to believe that you’re not going to die. “That was so scary!” he tells you later. “You looked like a dead person lying there, like you were in rigor mortis!”
You hope that’s not what death is like: fighting desperately and hopelessly for control of your limbs and possession of your thoughts while preoccupied with concern for the loved one watching you struggle. You hope dying feels more like your daily existence in the week following the second attack: just . . . unable to wake up.
You haven’t felt stable enough to watch LEMONADE yet. You might as well be dead.
But it’s been five days. You’ve got shit to do, and you’ve got to pull yourself together.
FIRST: get a cup of coffee. But not too much! Dehydration can trigger the anxiety beast, but abstaining altogether puts you at risk of caffeine-deprivation headache. Then brush your teeth, because coffee breath is the worst.
Two advanced life enhancement maneuvers: detachable shower head, decorative inside shower curtain.
You were going to blow dry your hair, but fuck it; it’s so hot and humid outside and you’re too hot from the shower and anyway you’ve got to stretch — now. You never want to stretch when you need to, weirdly, but it’s critical, a do-or-feel-like-dying. It doesn’t matter that you only know one yoga . . . combination? Sequence? Form? Whatever — you just have to do fake yoga: breathe deeply, explore your range of motion, pay attention to expanding your stretch, but never force it. When life is smooth and things are awesome, stretching is just a basic maintenance thing that doesn’t take much time and you can kind of do it while you’re doing other things, like waiting in line at the grocery store! But when a bunch of your muscles pitch a giant tantrum on you, it takes a lot of time and effort to stretch them back out.
Nobody has enough time to do this. You definitely don’t have time for this. But there’s no choice! You’re like a cold Stretch Armstrong in mid-winter — if you try to move without warming up and smushing your insides around first, you’ll crack! And leak gelled corn syrup when you finally warm up.
THEN: use a lacrosse ball to crush all of your tense muscle fibers into soft smushy goo. Oh god, it hurts so much, SO good, and few things in life feel as amazing as getting a trigger point to release. You can get a lacrosse ball at a sporting goods store or from, like, the Internet.
Put on your baddest-ass new t-shirt. Goddamnit, you are not going to let a stupid freakin’ panic attack take this music from you: crank it the fuck up.
Put on your power eyeshadow color, the one that makes you look stunning and simultaneously capable of ripping a man’s throat out à la Patrick Swayze in Road House. (Everybody has one, usually more than one! You just have to try a bunch of eyeshadow colors to find ‘em.)
Damp q-tips are excellent eyeshadow application tools.
Realize you need to eat something. Go make yourself make yourself a sandwich, extra cheese. Partway through the sandwich you realize you haven’t given yourself an ounce of credit for maintaining speed and road safety and getting your ass safely pulled over out of traffic without incident while you were in a really impaired situation last time you drove. That’s kind of badass! Maybe. A little bit.
This mascara once languished in the depths of the Kroger clearance discount makeup basket, but on your lashes it is MAJOR. Just load it on, and on.
You get a phone call! It’s your doctor. Your lab results are in, and SURPRISE surprise, your thyroid has become overwhelmed with ennui and gone into torpor again. This is good news, because figuring out what your diva body wants and satisfying its particular whims means a carefree, normal-feeling, panic attack-free daily existence! In the short-term it is slightly terrifying, however, because a new prescription is a real, concrete reason to have to actually do what you have only been thinking about in the abstract up ’til now: get in your one-ton metal death machine and pilot it safely to the pharmacy.
Crank your music up and GET UP. You’ve got to psych yourself up to perform an act of badassery.
Know what’s illuminating? Taking photo bursts of yourself singing.
Too much bronzer, ’cause why the hell not?
And put on some of the earrings; they deserve a better trip than they got last weekend.
You know exactly what you need now. It’s time to break out the Gwen Stefani Urban Decay lipstick in ultra-red 714 you purchased months ago but still haven’t used because it’s just too beautiful. For a second you’re irrationally bummed because you’ve been meaning to take another picture of this particular lipstick before wearing it. Then you realize that you can just take the photo now!
You can do this!!!
You did it.
You were fine!
You look badass.
When you go to pull your shirt off over your head later, Dorothy’s huge tongue drags a lick of approval right across your Gwen-stained mouth. Your lipstick never smudges.