By: Gabriela Yareliz
If I could choose one word to describe myself, it would be curious.
I like learning and trying new things (even when I immediately regret it afterward). Being adventurous can be great, and it can also backfire. Believe me. But at least, this means I have an anthology of great stories for my children and future grandchildren.
I have always been into international vibes when it comes to fashion, cooking, education, literature and film (ask me about the last U.S. film I saw versus the last foreign cinema films I have seen in the past three years, and you will quickly pick up on my taste).
I also love borrowing beauty customs from different parts of the world. Amla, anyone? (Huge shout out to India).
A culture I particularly love is the general Arab culture. Amazing beauty ideas and entrepreneurs have come out of places like Dubai and Iran. More particularly, I love Iranian beauty. Iranian culture in general is fabulous and gold-plated. I find a lot of parallels between the Iranians and Caribbean Hispanic culture.
Our cultures are not about being understated, effortless and unnoticed. It’s about glamour and big. Big everything. Sequins, gold, and exotic colors. We are loud in more ways than one.
Food is our centerpiece, family is number one, and we travel, laugh and hang out in large groups of people. We are very aesthetic, we care too much about the image we are projecting, and while we love food, we are constantly talking about our weight or other people’s weight. Walk into a Latin gathering, and someone will tell you that you are fat or skinny. I promise. Either comment will be followed by someone offering you a plate of food.
I have had a lot of adventures this weekend. One included going to Astoria with a friend to send money to the other side of the world. And man was it cold. I had never been to Astoria. And we stopped to eat Colombian empanadas, so it was incredibly worth it. I am the woman who will take a train in the opposite direction to see a new place, eat good food and prolong a good conversation.
But first, curiosity killed the cat on Friday, and now, I am wearing the cat on my eyelashes.
Inspired by attorney and entrepreneur Lilly Ghalichi’s words, “More than just eyelashes, they’re a lifestyle,” I decided I had been curious long enough about eyelash extensions and falsies, and it was time to try them. YOLO, right? I have always had a thing for eyelashes and mascara.
I was talking to my abuela on the phone, and I didn’t think twice about it and just showed up at an Arab salon in my neighborhood.
I told the lady I wanted to try something new, but nothing dramatic. She smiled and told me I had nice round eyes and long eyelashes already. She looked excited. I was her canvass, and she wanted to turn me into Princess Jasmine. The salon was packed. Arabic was flying in every direction. A bridal party was there. One of the bride’s best friends was beside me getting her newly red highlighted hair blow dried.
“What if my husband doesn’t like it?” the bride’s best friend asked the stylist.
“Then you buy a box of black, and dye it again. No big deal. Listen, we don’t know what tomorrow holds.”
The room grew quiet with the sobering thought of carpe diem. The philosopher stylist kept blowdrying.
I sat back in the chair. Suddenly, there was a group of women huddling around me. “Beautiful!” “Perfect!” “I want these, too!” Everyone was huddled around me commenting on my eyelashes and thanking Allah for my beauty. The glue stung a bit, and my eyes were crying. I wondered what they were seeing. When my stylist finally gave me the mirror, I looked at my eyelashes and then back at her proud face.
If these eyelashes were “not dramatic,” I imagine the dramatic ones were bedazzled because she gave me Kim Kardashian 2009 eyelashes. Eyelashes that touch your eyebrows (though my natural ones sometimes do that, too). I was mortified. They looked beautiful, and she did a great job. They are just more dramatic than anything I have ever done. While my culture has panache, I am one of the more “toned down” ones. I am not high maintenance at all (even though some think I am. Listen, I can get ready in 15 min. and not retouch the entire day). I keep things simple. These lashes scream “Shahs of Sunset.”
At first, I thought I would maybe wear glasses to church. Yes. Except my eyelashes hit the lenses.
I had images in my head of me combing and braiding my long eyelashes or brushing the lint off of someone with a wink.
Then, after talking it out with my mom and abuela who were super supportive, I remembered this was not permanent. It was something I had done for fun, and it was time to own it.
So, I worked my makeup artist skills and put my favorite rollers in my hair. It was time to go glam. It was too much fun.
I still debated trying to get these babies off before time (they fall off over the course of two weeks)–But I think I am going to just juice this hilarity for all it’s worth. These eyelashes may be the umbrella I need in this recent cold weather with frigid rains. Yesterday, I saw the Union Square holiday market from up above in a tall building, and I saw how the golden lights glittered in the night.
It’s ok to shine a little. Grab some glitter and go to town with it. My 12-year-old self would have been delighted. If there is something you want to try, go for it.
Maybe the lashes aren’t very me, but being bold, open and curious is very me.
I am going to welcome 2016 like a Shah.
[Images from Bravo, Lilly Lashes, Ghalichi Glam, and Tumblr]