I am a lavish and profligate weeper. In the late nineties, when I was a teen and ER was quite the thing, I was teased mercilessly by my little sisters, who liked to do impressions of the gasping, snotty sounds I made when I was moved to tears by fictional families affected by tragedy, struggling pregnant women, car crash victims and poor Dr Romano (“But he’s already so curmudgeonly! H-h-how can he ever find love and happiness when he only has one arm?”)
I’d like to claim that I only cry out of compassion, but the truth is that the tears come whenever I feel out of control. I cry because I’m jealous, because I’m insecure, because I feel left out, because I’m hungry, because I feel fat. Things I have made me cry in the last month: Joy after hearing the lovely stonemasons on the radio at Glastonbury, and being excited about people making things (“So noble! The ancient crafts!”); Fear that my fiance might stop loving me and leave me (or stay in a loveless relationship with me out of a sense of obligation); Self loathing because an old writing colleague I barely know has been published in the New Yorker (“I will NEVER be in the New Yorker, because I’m not funny, and all my ideas are shit, and they’ll have to make a special magazine for me called Shit Monthly and it will have a giant, greasy turd on the cover, embellished with tiny pictures of my head.”)
My tears reflect badly on me – figuratively and literally, if I’m in a public loo with unforgiving lighting. Spoiled, selfish, self absorbed and snotty – that’s me. On top of that, I constantly feel as though I’m letting the feminist side down. Weepers have a rubbish reputation. We’re the Madeleine Bassets. Byron’s less impressive shags. The ones who don’t make it past Judge’s Houses. I am supposed to be a strong, successful woman. You don’t catch FLOTUS, or Beyonce, or Angelina, having a weep, unless it’s about something super serious. I suspect Hilary is never found sat on some steps, weeping into the sleeve of her pantsuit, hiccuping “I just can’t even today.”
With all that in mind, I was going to write “and now, for all the other Wailing Wendys and Sobbing Sindys out there, here’s my pick of the top waterproof mascaras!” And then I thought FUCK THAT. Partly because I’ve never used a waterproof mascara that I’ve liked, or that hasn’t lead to me finding weird, black, blobby bits on my chin on the week after application. But mainly because I think that life can be really hard, and there are a thousand ways to be a Strong Woman, and if I’m sad, scared and frustrated enough to cry, I’ll let my face take the hit. No more biting my lip and blinking! No more “My hayfever is so bad today!” No more dashing to a lav to reconstruct my eye make up, and using products that make sure that my lashes stay defined even if I’ve just been told that my entire extended family has been wiped out in a deep fat fryer accident. Let the dark grey, smudgy rivers run!
Waterproof mascara is for when you decide to treat your emotions like farts. We all suffer sometimes, but no-one must ever, ever be aware of yours. If you let slip in front of someone you fancy, you worry that they will never want to have sex with you again. (It is also for going swimming, and if a bit of eye make up is what transforms you into your best aquatic self, all power to your elbow. This is why I am not calling for an immediate ban.) But what did your Grandad say about farts? Better out than in! Also, probably “Now, I do like dates, but they really don’t like me.” Anyway, it’s the same with tears. If we pretend we don’t cry, and squeeze our eyelids tight, and refuse to allow so much as a dampening of the lashes, we’re storing up so much sad, bad emotion that we’re one harrowing episode of Teen Mom away from having to take a week off work. But by crying streakily, visibly and unapologetically, we’re not building up a bitter ball of dark, damaging emotion. It’s the wellbeing version of defrosting the freezer on the regular rather than waiting until you have to chisel out individual peas with a fork.
With that in mind, here are my favourite resolutely non waterproof mascaras that will leave your weepy face looking so dramatically streaked that Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope will probably invite you to join Insane Clown Posse.
With a brush that’s brilliant for lifting and separating, a single coat gives enough definition and drama for a strong level of streak. But I often wear it on happy days just because it makes my lashes look extra curly.
Weepy rating: Lana Turner in Imitation of Life
A nice, subtle house party lash – more hallway eyes than bedroom eyes, but you can really work the brush into the corners and go a bit ‘moody indie’ with it.
Weepy rating: Chloe Sevigny in Kids
Excellent for tragic mimes – you can craft whole new lashes, and probably entire houses and cities, with multiple coats of this. And when the tears come it’s gonna be like an opera.
Weepy rating: Amy Winehouse in Amy