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A Problem I Couldn’t Fix by Batting my Eyelashes

In my many visits to my Baba’s house as a child, one photo of my mother always caught my attention. It was her high school graduation portrait. She looked so glamorous, like a movie star. Her hair shone like beaten gold, perfectly curled. Her smile lit up her face, and she sat perfectly poised and elegant. I was fascinated by it, I had never seen anyone look so beautiful. To me, she looked just like the princesses in my storybooks. When the time came for me to have my graduation portrait taken, I knew everything had to be perfect. I knew that this would be the photo that would be proudly displayed in many of my family members’ homes. It would be the picture that, one day, my own children would admire in the same way that I had admired my mother’s. It wasn’t just a portrait. It was a legacy.

I had a meticulous beauty schedule laid out in my mind for the day before my photo was taken. This was in 2015, when the trend of having immaculately groomed and bold eyebrows was at its peak. My eyebrows have always been far from ideal, thin and messy, but I wasn’t going to let them stand in the way of my perfect portrait. If my eyebrows weren’t going to cooperate, I would just eliminate them altogether. My plan was to clip my eyebrows short and fill them in with powders and pomades until I had the sculpted bold brow that destiny and genetics had denied me. My mom had just the right tool for the job in her bathroom drawer– a hand held battery-powered shaver. With nothing holding me back, I turned the shaver on and combed it through my eyebrows.

I watched with satisfaction as the long unruly clipped hairs sprinkled across my cheeks-and in my eyes. Something incredibly coarse was in my eyes, coarser than eyebrow hairs. I remember rubbing at them, a little concerned. It was only when I touched my eyes that I realized the mistake I had made.

I had no eyelashes. At least, not anymore.

Panicking, I looked at the shaver in my hand. The little plastic guard that slips over the blade to control the width was gone. While I brushed it over my eyebrows, one end caught the ends of my eyelashes, cutting them close to the eyelid. Scrambling, I clambered on top of the bathroom sink and inched towards the mirror, until my nose pressed against its surface. My worst fears were confirmed. I didn’t do this to just one eye, but to both of them.

An eerie artificial calm came over me. In a trancelike state, I descended the stairs and approached my mom, where she sat on the living room couch watching TV.

“Mom,” I began, cool as a cucumber, “I cut off my eyelashes.”

Her eyes snapped from the TV to my face. “You did what?”

“I CUT OFF MY EYELASHES!!” I blurted, the horror of what I had done hitting me full force like a sledgehammer.

The next 20 or so minutes were a blur. I think I may have blocked them out a bit, it was too much trauma in one day. I would like to imagine I fainted like a heroine in a pulpy romance novel, but I was probably hysterically crying. I went through the five stages of grief for my eyelashes over the evening, but I eventually reached “acceptance”. My mom encouraged me to see the humour in the situation, and she also reminded me it wasn’t the end of the world. I tearfully went to the drugstore and bought false eyelashes and glue, along with various types of eyeliner to create the illusion of natural eyelashes. However, I only wore them to the portrait. I did not try to cover up my stubbly eyelashes for the next couple months, as eyelash glue made my eyes itch and burn. It takes a long time for eyelashes to grow back, roughly six weeks! This wasn’t just an embarrassing moment, it was an embarrassing moment stretched for over a month. When others saw my bald eyelids, I had to constantly explain about how I was stupid enough to cut my own eyelashes off. Luckily, they had grown back to their real length by the time I had my graduation day in June.

Whenever I see my graduation portrait in my own home or proudly on display in my grandparent’s home, it feels like a joke I share with only myself. It felt like the world was ending, but it really wasn’t. As the saying goes, hair grows back, and so do eyelashes.

Photo courtesy of Oleg Magni




Bethany is a 21 year-old with a big heart and even bigger dreams attending the University of Alberta. She loves writing and reading, video games, daydreaming, and her dog, Pepper. 
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