I’m lying down on a massage bed in the middle of a stranger’s apartment, a bright LED lamp overhead.

Hair is such a hairy topic, isn’t it? All of us (who have the privilege of course) grow it, cut it, lose it, dye it, fry it, bop it. And, if my entire effort for equality depended on the strands of my hair, I’m afraid I’d be left bald and confused.

I say, “Whoa! Great light, you’ll really be able to see my eyelashes with that. How effective.” But, what I’m really thinking is, Holy shit! I can’t wait to stare up into that.

The eyelash lady can’t wait to “lash me up.” She admits to me that she knew she’d like me just by reading my Instagram bio. (#FUCKTRUMP) I like her already too, but this is bad because we start talking about politics. Right away, I begin talking with my hands, moving, and blinking furiously. I can tell she’s already starting to back off. Then, she just comes right out and tells me that I can’t talk during the procedure. I blow it. I’m stupid.

She starts by applying the eyelash glue she uses to one of my eyes in case I’m allergic to it. Immediately, my eye starts burning, but to my surprise, she cheers that my eye is not allergic, and I cheer too because I can’t feel my eye anymore. She directs me to her bathroom and asks me to go wash the glue off. After making my way (in a somewhat calm fashion) to her bathroom, I close the door. I wriggle in pain, and then, I raid her mirror as if I’ve suddenly turned into a jewelry-hungry thief.

The saner version of me would have just asked her for a saline solution. But, this is not a time for manners. This is an emergency. I squeeze that holy water into my eye, but it’s still blurry and stinging, so I pop out my eye contact and soak it in the solution using my hand as a cup. I stare into the mirror with one contact in and one contact out. The half of me that I can see isn’t looking good. I should leave and stop right now. Besides, my mom insists that I already have long, pretty eyelashes, but really? What else can the woman who gave birth to me say?

I’m no quitter, so I march right out and sing, “Okay! I’m ready to be lashed!”

The procedure hurts. I can feel every single eyelash extension poke into my eyelids. She apologizes for how rough my first experience has been. I tell her that it’s okay. And it is okay. It’s not her fault. She pokes my eye again. I wince. Then, I try to think of everything and then nothing to drown out the intense pain. But, she interrupts me by announcing that she needs music to focus, so she places her iPhone right by my ears and plays, “Despacito.” Yes, the Justin Bieber version. I try to lose myself in the song.

Naturally, my situation only worsens. I get to thinking about eyelashes, and how I’m sure that their only function is to keep dangerous debris out of our eyes–not to be long, not to be fluffy, and definitely not to be fuckable. And I know this, but I just want to improve myself. Shouldn’t we all be consciously improving?

My fickle relationship with having too much or not enough hair on my body started in a library during my freshman year in high school. I had just turned fourteen when I had the sheer pleasure, already overweight for my age and already lonely from having no friends—to having an older boy “educate” me on proper hair care.

He said, “Ya know?! You’d be better off if you just shaved your arm hair. Like your legs, that way you’d be smooth.”

I looked up from the book I’d been studying. Apparently, he’d been studying my arms and felt some sort of responsibility to give me his solution to my problem. My eyes widened, but I saved face. I rolled down the sleeves of my shirt.

“Thank…you.” I whispered and smiled at him. He smiled back proudly, and I died a little for the first time that day. Like any self-confident, emotionally strong, and body-positive young girl, I shaved as soon as I returned home. Ooh, I shaved it all. Even my elbow skin! (Which at the time we made a joke about its medical name: the weenus.) Yeah, that fucking hurt.

Her work is done after just three hours. The eyelashes are heavy, so I can only open my eyelids halfway. I wonder out loud if this is how Sleepy sees the world, and she laughs, but I laugh harder. She exclaims that my eyes look really bright now thanks to her eyelashes after she’s done taking pictures of my watery eyes up close. I want to say that thanks to her LED light, everything looks bright now. I stumble over to her bathroom again and squeeze the solution into my burning eyes. I look into the mirror and force my eyes open. There they are. This is what it means to be officially lashed.

What can I say? I’ve achieved every hair goal in my life. I’m lashed. I’m shaved. I’m civilized. And, I’m so smooth now, boys.

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