Natural's Not in It

What nylon mascara can do for a soul

Mascara nostalgia: It's a thing.
Mascara nostalgia: It's a thing.

We didn't have no stinkin' Sassy when I was a lass. I grew up in the 1970s, when a tender teen's periodical choices pretty much boiled down to Tiger Beat and Seventeen. Being a pop freak, I preferred the former (and also loved Mad magazine, my enjoyment apparently violating some sort of gender code I wasn't aware of at the time).

Still, it was hard to avoid Seventeen, and even harder to avoid getting drawn into its junior version of glam-mag fantasy – at the time, a beautiful, lemon-scented, sister golden-hair surprise sort of affair. For some reason, in a way that spike-heeled, Apollonia-based hotness later didn't, this seemed remotely possible.

It didn't hurt that its dictates were strangely non-consumerist, Seventeen having tasked itself with the mainstreaming of the handmade, hippie industry and back-to-the-land sentiments in the zeitgeist – crumbs from the decade's earlier revolutionary fervor. (Sample beauty tips: Tighten those pores with an oatmeal mask – no, a mask really made of oatmeal! Smooth rough elbows with – what else? – lemon halves!)

The net result was more or less a corollary of Dolly Parton's dictum that she spends "a lot of money to look this cheap": We spent very little money, mostly on drugstore cosmetics, to look "natural" – sophisticated and understated and young and new in pale, strawberry-scented lip glosses and so on. The goal was to look like you weren't wearing makeup – you were just naturally super-fresh and sexy!

That's about as far as I got with the whole makeup thing. As things got globbier and wetter and redder, I veered away from such botheration, either camping it up or, mostly, going without. Not that I searched that diligently, but it seemed like they stopped making products that strove to make you look like you weren't using products (well, except for maybe Bed Head).

Frantic volume-pumping and the false-eyelashes resurgence made mascara particularly problematic for me – what with the clumping and expectations of impossible thickness – downright brushiness, really – and my poor vision and sparse endowments in that area, I couldn't just throw that gloppy shit on and go out to the punk-rock club or the barbecue or the whatever, for god's sake. I looked all fucked-up, and not in a good way.

Hence, hopes weren't high when Chronique editor Anne Harris queried rhetorically, "want some mascara?" and handed me a radioactive-yellow package monikered "Cover Girl lashblastlength." What? Mascara? Made of nylon? Why isn't the brush curved? Why do I want to "blast" my lashes?

Nevertheless. I took it. And one night, on a whim, I whipped it on before attending a rock show. And it was good. It was easy peasy and lighthearted and made me feel all spontaneous and freedom rock. I don't know if it's the "nylon formula" or the superlong brush or the smiley-face color of the package or, most likely, some minuscule generational alignment, but I'm going to go ahead and credit this one to the mascara. Flippin' finally.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Cover Girl lashblastlength mascara, mascara, Seventies nostalgia, Seventeen

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