In the photo she posted on Insta recently, my goddaughter looks like a young Dusty Springfield. She has the ‘up-do’, a teeny-weeny shift dress and enormous eye lashes.
A small part of me is jealous.
It’s the lashes. Thick, long and totally artificial.
I look at my own stubby eyelashes, resistant to even the maxest of max-effect, volume-building, telescopic mascara and I am filled with a feeling of a cause long lost.
Everywhere I look now I see false lashes. They have become the glamour signal of our times. Every female telly presenter or singer meets the camera knowing that her own inadequate lashes are masked by luscious synthetic imposters.
Katie Price has said that she feels naked without three sets on at once.
I think this means I am in Negative Nudity.
My make-up moment happened in the ‘eighties. Back then, my inspirations were Robert Smith of The Cure (huge amounts of Kohl, no accuracy or refinement required) and Meg Ryan (natural look, no need for a hair brush, heavy on the sticky lip-gloss). Neither required false eyelashes.
And so I never learnt to deal with them.
My mother, on the other hand, was a world authority on them. She had swung her way through the ‘sixties when Max Factor brought Fashion Lashes to the world.
‘No more excuses not to be a long-lashed, man-shattering beauty,’ was the strap line.
Mum internalised it.
She raced around the West End shattering men left, right and centre in her Mary Quant mini skirts and Biba boots, all cheekbones and black-rimmed eyes and, yes, enormous, feathery lashes that reached her brows.
I think I was twelve before I realised that her lashes were not her own, but I had often wondered why so many spiders met their death on her bathroom shelves.
My mother’s attachment to her synthetic lashes was so great that she even gave birth in them. She hadn’t wanted my father to ‘see her in a state.’
She finally gave up her falsies in the ‘eighties, when she worried her firm wouldn’t give her a company car if she looked like she should be riding trick ponies in the circus. Too ‘dolled up’ and nobody would take you seriously.
Thirty years on, it appears that women have been licensed once again, to be frivolous without ceding any of their hard-won power. The primacy of glamour and good grooming has become a feature of modern culture and the overtly artificial is prized.
But for those of us sandwiched between the two false lash experiences, there remains a problem.
How the bloody hell do you get them on? And, once they’re on, how do you ensure they stay on?
My one foray into falsies saw me walk into a fancy dress party sporting a thick, luscious pair, jammed on according to the instructions, but without any real instinct for how the job is done.
Initially, I was thrilled with the result and it was just a matter of minutes before a good looking gentleman sidled up to me on the dance floor. Was I about to shatter a man myself in my long lashes?
My excitement was short lived. “There’s an insect on your cheek,” he shouted above the music, “would you like me to swat it?”
I want to learn the art of the lash so I can participate in the trend, but I fear it’s a skill that late starters never really get on with. My mother has offered to help, but that feels as bad as having my twelve year old niece teach me how to post on Insta.
Determined to reclaim some of the frivolity I missed, I’ve invested in a pair and set aside half a day to play with them.
When I say ‘invested’ we’re talking a few quid. Yes, for the price of a latte and an oversized bourbon biscuit I could have Sexy Señorita lashes as worn by Cheryl Fernandes-Versini-Cole-Tweedy!
I’m aiming for sooty theatricality and smoky over-emphasis.
I fear spider-in-seizure.
My mother is on speed dial.