We’ve been self-quarantined for six weeks, and I can’t stand to look at myself anymore.
My eyelash extensions, which make me look awake when I’m not, are shedding. But not in a uniform way, mind you. I have these weird bald patches next to extensions that are grown out and cockeyed. I look like I have spiders on my face. I bought a lash serum to spur natural lash growth and it turned my eyelids maroon. I’m wearing mascara for the first time in five years. And for what? My family? They couldn’t care less.
My hair, cut into a long pixie, looks like a lawn that a drunk person mowed. Pixies need a trim every 5 weeks, and I was due when the shutdown happened. I’m impulse-buying hair products on Amazon which I quickly abandon. I’m experimenting with bobby pins. I’m pestering my stylist every week, as if she has any insight into when beauty salons will be allowed to open.
And my teeth — good Christ, my teeth. I’m drinking more coffee and red wine than usual, and my teeth are showing the effects. So I dusted off my GLO Science Teeth Whitening System (I’m vain — OK?) and started using it every night. And then, the next day, I’d drink coffee and red wine again. Sisyphean, this process.
At first, my friends and I were having all these Zoom happy hours. Look at us! Trying to maintain some normalcy during these crazy times! The first one I did was celebratory, with all of us doing virtual toasts and chattering to catch up after two weeks. TWO WEEKS. We were still positive, still looking on the bright side. I’m sentimental for those times.
As the weeks went on, my book club met twice on Zoom. I’ve attended several more happy hours, a game night, and a couple of birthday Zoom parties. I’ve discovered how to position my desk lamp for more flattering lighting, and how to enable the “Touch Up My Appearance” setting on Zoom. It helps a little, but I still find myself fluffing my hair to no avail, and looking at my neck. What the hell happened to my NECK?
The virtual parties have leveled off. I wonder if it’s because everyone is tired of looking at themselves, or if I’m not being invited anymore because of the incessant hair-fluffing.
I’m keenly aware of how privileged I am to even be worrying about my appearance during a pandemic. For awhile, I was able to forestall my descent into vanity because I was doing a lot for others. I can’t outrun my frailties, though. If I sit with myself, the things that start to bubble to the surface are these mundane worries. Should I cut my own hair? Are my jeans tighter than they were last week? Is my face mask giving me acne?
I think I’m focused on these things because I don’t want to confront the bigger things. I went from worrying about getting into grad school to worrying about whether I’ll ever see my parents again. I’m worried about what this social distancing is doing to my kids. I’m worried about whether we can count on Steve’s paycheck in six months, nine months, a year.
So yeah, I think I’ll worry about my teeth instead. And refill my wineglass.