The Pilot Season Experiment — WAR PAINTon May 24th, 2012 at 3:29 pm
This blog entry is the sixth part of a continuing series.
If you don’t know what’s going on, click here to catch up.
In case y’all haven’t figured it out by now (and if you haven’t – whuff – time for that Remedial Reading Comprehension course, folks): I am not a girly girl.
I take no joy in dresses, or heels, or doing my hair, or any of that other shit chicks do to look “pretty.” Far as I’m concerned, “pretty” is just the word that comes before “sure,” or “goddamned sure.” For me, it has little to no aesthetic meaning, and most of the time, I feel about “pretty” like I feel about C-SPAN: it bores the fuck out of me.
There is one aspect of the girly oeuvre that I do enjoy… and that’s make-up.
Not wearing it, mind you – it’s a shit-ton of work if you want to apply it correctly, and I’d rather invest that time in tweeting inappropriate thoughts about Benedict Cumberbatch – but I do love collecting it, like my brothers used to do with those tiny rubber M.U.S.C.L.E. men figurines, whose sole raison d’être was hiding on the floor in plain sight until stepped on, then provoking stream-of-consciousness cussing my parents mastered like Mozart did the clavier. If you never knew that “shitballsmotherfuckingballshitfuck” was a word? Step on a M.U.S.C.L.E. man and increase your vocabulary.
So wearing make-up? No. Having a big box of it sitting under my bathroom cabinet? RuPaul would be proud.
My only problem for The Pilot Season Experiment was that nearly every piece of my vast make-up collection was upwards of five years old.
Guys may be like, “So? I have some cologne my mom gave me for high school graduation and I still use that shit!”
Women, on the other hand, know that after about a year, make-up goes to hell on you. It really does. Mascara gets clumpy, eye shadow gets crumbly, foundation turns to syrup that looks like radioactive self-tanner. Even powder foundation (which is what I use, considering I have oily skin that repels make-up as if it were vinegar) starts to streak across your face like Sioux war paint.
And in fact, that’s what I call make-up when I’m obliged to wear it: war paint.
Because if I’m going to the trouble of applying that crap, you can be guaranteed one thing: it is not peacetime. I am going to war. I’m leaving my house AND I’m trying to make a good impression. In any other case, I would rather draw dicks on my face with a Sharpie than slap on the war paint. When The Finance comes home after I’ve had a meeting, even he says, “Ah, you still got your war paint on? I like you better without it.” Which is when I love him so hard it feels like my spleen will burst.
I’m sure some of you women out there will protest, “But make-up’s not that hard! I do mine in five minutes every day!” And with the greatest respect, fellow females, I say: BITE me, you lying lady liars. Any woman who can apply her make-up in five minutes or less doesn’t need make-up to begin with. Which on the one hand – hey, great for you! you’re genetically blessed! – but on the other hand – don’t be giving Quasimodo advice on standing upright. It’s just hurtful.
For instance, here’s model Adriana Lima with no make-up on:
Atrociously gorgeous, no? Well, not all of us look like Aphrodite when we roll out of bed. Some of us look more like the Kraken:
Thus, when I decided to do The Pilot Season Experiment, I knew I’d have to visit Sephora, because it’s the only store I trust to have quality make-up that won’t drip down my skin and give me scary clownface. I wept over the expense and trouble I’d have to go through for approximately .08 seconds, then planned my trip like it was fucking D-Day. For luckily, I had exactly one item of war paint that was less than a year old:
Which meant I GOT TO BUY EVERYTHING ELSE BRAND NEW.
(Really, it’d be indecorous to show you the dance I did when I realized this; mostly because I wasn’t wearing a bra and I might knock someone out with a stray flying tit.)
My trip to Sephora started like all my trips to Sephora do: with me rushing around the store like a bratty 4 year-old in a candy shop. ”I want thish! No, I want thish! Mommy, can I have thish?” (Which is a little odd, considering my mom wasn’t there, and I don’t have a lisp.) In my head, though, all I heard was, “Yes, darling, yes! You can have everything! You can have it ALL!” Which is sort of awesome when you’re an adult with her very own credit card and an excuse like, “But I’m doing this for work!”
Because what shops like Sephora and MAC and all the high-end make-up counters in department stores offer is something deceptively simple — something everyone wants — something people will do terrible things in order to have. And that something?
Hope that if you smear this on your face, or delicately dab this on your eyelids, or brush this on your cheekbones, you will somehow transform into the most beautiful, incredible creature who ever deigned to alight on this planet. You will haz ALL TEH MENZ! (or ALL TEH WIMMENZ! or ALL TEH HUMANZ!) just begging to slay dragons for you or, more likely, to go get you a mocha latte whenever you want, because you are a goddamned supermodel, goddammit!
And while it’s true, beautiful people do have an easier time making it in the world (see here, here, here, or, I don’t know, fucking open your eyes), odds are, if you look like the Kraken in the morning, you can be relatively certain that no matter how much war paint you apply, you are not going to be Aphrodite when you’re done. Make-up is not plastic surgery. Make-up is not a structural renovation. Make-up is a new coat of paint in the living room and possibly some new posters to distract from the cracks in the walls.
Hope can be wonderful.
But hope can also be awful when it shows itself false.
To really hit it on the nose: it’s just like pilot season.
Me? I was fortunate in that I knew exactly why I was shopping for make-up — pilot season and The Experiment — so I didn’t have my sense of self-worth wrapped up in it, since I also knew I’d only be wearing that war paint for the equivalent of two weeks out of the year. It’s sort of like eating an entire birthday cake while you have the stomach flu. You know it’s not going to stick around for long anyway, so you might as well indulge.
And indulge I did.
These are primers (or what I call “face spackle”). I bought two kinds since I wasn’t sure if the anti-acne gel in the blue bottle would dry out my skin — because trust me, there’s nothing worse than having oily skin… AND dry little bits of face flaking off and floating on top of the sheen.
After you wash your face, you spread this spackle over your skin like moisturizer. Except it’s not moisturizer. It’s simply designed to make your skin as uniformly flat as possible, so you can apply foundation evenly without looking like you’re trying to cover smallpox scars.
FOUNDATION AND BLUSH
I started using BareMinerals about ten years ago, after having used liquid foundation for the ten years before that, then finally realizing I’d been doing it wrong. Adding liquid foundation to oily skin gives you a very small window to look good: like, so small you won’t get out of the house before turning into Tammy Faye Bakker. (Dear Baby Jesus, please let some of my readers remember who that is.)
What we have here is the powder foundation (in Fair, since they didn’t have a color called Whitest White Girl In The Whole White World), some blush, and some powder named Mineral Veil, a “setting powder,” which is basically just code for “Hey Oily Chicks, You Need This Like WHOA.”
You know those little Q-Tip-wand-doohickeys they include with the cheap-o eye shadow you buy at CVS? Yeah. Those suck donkey-schlong. Problem is, you don’t realize the schlong-suckage until you’ve used real brushes. Kabuki brushes, face-contour brushes, angled eye shadow brushes, smudger brushes, eyeliner brushes, eyebrow brushes, lip brushes, pubic hair brushes (just seeing if you’re still paying attention) — the list goes on forever. This is what I meant when I said applying your make-up “correctly” takes a shit-ton of work. Like any good painter, you have different brushes for different techniques, and what works to spread foundation over your face will not work to apply eyeliner beneath your lower lids. At least, not if you want to stay on this side of the Goth I-write-to-men-in-prison line.
Every make-up artist I’ve ever met has said to apply your eyeliner before you put on your eyeshadow. It allows you to remove smudges easier, and if you accidentally poke your eye out with the eyeliner pencil, you can usually pop it back in without it ruining all the make-up you’ve put on up ’til now. (You might have to touch up your foundation and take a Vicodin, but honestly, I’m not seeing a problem there.) Since I have blue eyes, I bought Stila eyeliner in black, grey, and brown — because putting teal or jade eyeliner near my eyes generally results in me looking like that green chick Kirk bangs in the original Star Trek. (Oh, he did TOO bang her. I’m not even going to argue this.) In other words: we’re talking freaky extraterrestrial. This would be fine if I was going out to party — I vaguely recall — but when you’re trying to convince a showrunner that you’re a responsible, intelligent human being, “Alien Eyes” is not a good nickname to walk out with.
Simple, right? Two small cases, six colors, nothing flashy. Not that I’ve never done flashy. In your twenties, flashy is your birthright. Could I have gotten away with being Kirk’s bang-buddy ten years ago? You bet your ass I could’ve. My hair was fucking blue. What were they gonna say about my eye make-up? But if I’m going to be real (which I promised in the very first installment of this series), I must tell you: when you hit your mid-thirties, flashy stops being flashy and starts looking desperate. While I would never deny that desperation is a large part of being a Writer in Hollywood, another large part is making people think that you’re not desperate at all. Because the more you can project a sense of “ZOMG, like, this whole town wants me to work for them,” the more people will want to steal you away from everybody else. For no other reason than they just don’t want to be The Guy Who Missed Out On Hiring The Hot Thing. This is insane, I realize; it’s based on air and attitude and nothing else — but don’t think for one second it’s also not 100% true. Therefore, if the barest whiff of desperation can tank you, you avoid anything and everything that might imply you’re even familiar with the word “desperation.” And glittery silver eyeshadow on a near-40-something? Screams “desperate” so loud even Helen Keller would grab her ears.
Look. This is the lipstick I bought. I know you can’t see it very well in this picture, but it’s low-key, kind of mauve — and if you don’t know where this goes on a female face, there is absolutely nothing I can do to help you at this point. I’d go into more detail about lipstick in general, but one, I give zero fucks about lipstick, and two, I’m really distracted by Mr. Cumberbatch in the background there. He has nothing to do with pilot season or The Experiment, but he does have a lot to do with how I unwound during it. Which reminds me, I need new batteries.
For the remote control, you pervs.
Just kidding. They’re for my vibrator.
GOD’S GIFT TO OILY GIRLS
If you are a fellow tribe member of the Oily Face Nation, and you only buy one thing from Sephora in your whole life, it should be this. I have tried numerous kinds of blotting papers, and these are the best by a loooooooong shot. Press these suckers on your nose, chin, and forehead five minutes before a meeting, and you’ve got at least an hour before you start looking like BP came on your face.
It’s a small thing — as close to inconsequential as you can get when you’re talking about war paint — but the fact is: oily skin looks like greasy skin. Greasy skin looks like dirty skin. Dirty skin says, “I might not have showered before I got to this meeting. I might not shower if you hire me. If you’re going to sit in a tiny room with me all day for the next six months, you’d better hope I wear deodorant.” Which is a long side-track of thought for a showrunner to follow when he’s supposed to be listening to your brilliant ideas (that is, when he’s not staring at your camel toe). So anything you can try to de-grease your face? Do it.
It’s one less thing to pull focus away from your brain.
And when it comes down to it,
is what war paint is all about.
When you wear make-up to a meeting, all it should say is: not only am I smart enough to talk character and story arc and potential episode ideas – I got my personal shit wired, son. I can bring home the bacon AND look like Charlize Theron while I’m doing it. (Some of us can only hit Charlize Theron in “Monster,” but effort is effort.)
Use that war paint to show off those sparkling green eyes, that seemingly flawless skin, and you will learn — like the thousands of Adriana Limas that have come before her — that looks really do matter.
People more readily attribute good qualities to attractive people. Sucks for us Average-to-Middlin’ Folk, but when we take advantage of every opportunity we have — even when we know it’s all bullshit, and unfair, and forcibly normative — then we can look back on pilot season with a certain satisfaction, knowing that we have done everything in our power to get hired.