Still putting make-up on, in spite of not planning to leave your house, is a way to trick yourself into thinking normality still reins...
I've been dancing around the issue of Covid-19 in all of my beauty pieces for IMAGE this week. I've talked about how, yes, NOW is the time to try natural deodorant. NOW is the time to embrace short, neat nails. NOW is the time to do hair masks, face masks, foot masks, hell, any mask you can get your mitts on. I've written thousands of words this week, all casually referencing this massive, life-altering and truly challenging issue we're all facing.
I've danced around it because, in a word, I'm scared. I'm sad, anxious and scared. I'm avoiding the news – save for once a day when I allow myself to check the updates. Reader: They are never good – I'm off Twitter for the most part, I'm muting WhatsApp groups left, right and centre to avoid the constant onslaught of 'information' about the virus, its spread and its effects.
I just read a post on Instagram – once my safe space – about how they're turning some of IMMA in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham into a temporary mortuary, and I cried. Where, a month ago, I would've described a tea-filled, dramatic YouTube video as 'shaking me to the core', having read that post, I truly know how it feels to have my insides rattle.
Though my own worries about the coronavirus are relatively minor, I'm filled with worry for those I love, and those they love. None of us are immune to the collective anxiety, all of us are prepping our grief coping mechanisms should they need to be deployed.
It might seem reductive, but to cope with the weird, new world I'm now living in, I've been putting myself and my most basic needs first, for the first time in a very, very long time. I am doing yoga – unheard of for me on a normal week. I am doing breathing exercises every night before bed. I am trying to eat well. I am taking vitamins EVERY day. I am walking a lot, I'm snuggling my dog.
And I am putting on my make-up.
As trivial an action as I know that is, it makes me feel normal. It makes me feel like, hey, today is just like any other day. Make-up, for me, is a signal that everything SURELY must be fine in the world if you're taking the time to coat your lashes in this thick black gloop? Surely you wouldn't be putting a half an hour of effort into this if the world was in utter disarray?
I put on music. I sit beside my window. I hear cars, cyclists, dog-walkers passing. I hear the familiar noises of my neighbours coming and going. I lose myself briefly in the errant brow hairs that spring up overnight, plucking them from places I know they shouldn't be. I take my hand to my brushes and take my mind elsewhere, and for a short time, I don't really focus on anything but painting my face.
Meditation doesn't work for me in the traditional sense. I can't sit on the floor without getting pins and needles, and the concept of ummm-ing and ahh-ing through an activity feels a bit alien. But the repetitive, gentle application of make-up? It is the most calming reprieve from the coronavirus noise I've found so far.
I'm not going anywhere, I'm not seeing anyone, of course. But in truth, that's not why I wear make-up in the first place. I wear it so that when I DO go somewhere or DO see someone, I feel great about myself. And feeling great, right now, feels difficult. So each day, whether it's just a brow and a lip balm or a full-on red lip and liner-flick, I am going to put my make-up on, escape into normality, and wait for the day I can take myself back to normality for real.
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