I believe in mascara. I know that makes me sound like the typical middle school girl, obsessed with the new idea of makeup and cake-faced to prove it. But that’s not why I believe in it. In fact, I rarely wear it. But I love mascara because it always tells the truth.
I once saw this poster. I must have been about seven or eight, but the image stuck with me. It’s still a really vivid memory. I was in a shoe store at the mall, and while my mom hassled the salesman and tried on gazillions of shoes, I gazed at a ginormous Sketchers poster up on the wall. In the background was a boy making out with some run-of-the-mill girl. And as shocking as that concept was at the time to a very sheltered seven year old, what really hit me was the picture’s main focus. The spotlight was on a girl who was crying her eyes out. I suppose it was because the cute boy behind her was at one point in time her cute boy. But she was a mess. Her hair was sticking up and ratty, her clothes dingy-looking, her makeup was in places makeup shouldn’t be. Her tears had mixed with her jet-black mascara and had left millions of miniscule rivers of black goo flowing down her face and neck. And that gross, unmanageable, hard to clean up mess is why I believe in it. It’s as simple as that.
I’ve always been a crier. When I saw that poster ten years ago it struck me because I could relate to that girl. I was her. And I still am. Not a single day goes by that I don’t shed a tear or two or six million. I cry when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m frustrated, when I’m angry, when I’m hurt, when I’m lonely, when I’m excited. I could go on, but you probably get my point and can see where this is going. Crying is how I express every emotion under the sun. Crying is a huge part of who I am.
According to my family, as an extra special “Welcome to the World” present, God gave an extra big dose of empathy to me. It’s true. I was “blessed” with the gift of empathy. I’ve got it. But I use the term “blessed” very lightly because, honestly, I’ve never felt that empathy was much of a blessing. Not only do I get the pleasure of crying for myself, but I also get to cry for other people. So I cry when I’m happy, sad, frustrated, angry, hurt, lonely, excited and I cry when my friends are happy, when movie characters are sad, when a teacher’s frustrated, when my mom’s angry, when my sister’s hurt, and yeah, even when my pets seem lonely. There’s no limit to who or why or the number of times a day people’s joy or pain makes my eyes water incessantly. And when I cry, my mascara always shows it.
For me, crying is the rawest of all emotions. It strips away all the fancy masks that I take the time to put on for the world around me, and it leaves nothing. Just me. It’s the window into my soul, into how I’m really feeling, completely vulnerable. It’s what’s behind my standard monotone answer of “I’m fine” that you will always receive when you ask me how I’m doing. And it’s not just like that for me. In one way or another, it’s like that for everyone. When I see someone blubbering in a corner, I get to see the real them. I see the raw feelings. Gone are all the fancy fixings, the false pretenses, the façade. I can feel their pain, experience their joy, and sense their desperation. I get to take a step back from myself and the fast paced and self obsessed track of my own life to be a part of and to make a difference in someone else’s life. And when I cry, my mascara always makes me look the way I feel.
Yet people try to hide their tears. They hide them behind closed doors, in bathroom stalls, in dark closets. People have become embarrassed by their own display of emotion and appalled by the display of others. It’s something we all experience, it’s something we all do, but it has become unacceptable in our society. One time I was on the phone with a friend and for some reason I started to cry. He was utterly appalled and completely taken aback. He warily asked why I was crying and I replied, “It’s who I am. You better get used to it.” I guess I don’t need to say that his calls got a whole lot less frequent after that. I believe that God created us to cry. Jesus cried. Why can’t we? It is the perfect medicine for all life’s complications. After a good cry there’s a flawless emptiness that’s left, a blank slate, a fresh start. There’s no more emotion, you’re completely spent, there’s a perfect peace wrapped around you. For me, there’s no better feeling than that of sobbing my eyes out, whether it’s for myself, a friend, or a perfect stranger. And that is why I believe in mascara, because it is tangible, evident proof that we’ve been crying. It creates a un-hide-able, un-wash-away-able mess. It betrays our secrets. It opens a window to who we really are. It clues the clueless, self-obsessed world in to what is going on in our lives. Mascara always tells the truth.