A Look at the Trump’s Administration’s Final Lewks

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Brooklyn exploded when Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 election. I was sitting on my stoop chatting with a good friend as a joyful yell leapt out a window near us. We jumped and yelled and headed to a corner where others we knew were also jumping and yelling.

A reveler walked into the crowd with a bag of Cheetos, then threw it to the ground and stomped until it was flat and a plume of orange dust erupted from under their boot. The already roaring crowd roared more.

After a year of not-so-quiet rage and relentless panic, that warm day in Brooklyn felt like the shores of Babylon or Shangri la or whatever mythical place you choose to imagine. A brief burst of Utopia in the middle of certain Dystopia. Everything, including relief and joy, is relative now. Celebratory bright-orange dust on a nice day was my unexpected heaven in 2020. …

a closer look and the debate lewks

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The over-produced debates on high def TV’s are indelicate when it comes to faces. Onscreen, the candidates resemble a coked-up friend at 2am who is shouting, shimmying, and sweating at you. It’s all so fast and loud— especially at last night’s South Carolina debate, with everyone waving their hands like they’re out raving in 1997. Never in my life have I seen so much face-skin! The exact texture, so visible we can feel it. Every make-up decision is obvious, making every mistake glaring. Not a single eye-brow hair escapes the blinding truth of the cameras.

Do you feel guilty and petty for questioning appearances on TV? Do you yearn to speak to someone about it? It’s ok! The made-up faces of public figures tell us a lot. They’re not a characters on a television show- they’re self-chosen public figures who want to run our country, so everything they do broadcasts ‘This is meeeee!’

Someone has handed them a mirror — they looked, nodded, and said “Yes that’s me that’s great.” Their makeup artist definitely checked them 5 or more times, neurotically knowing the dangers of stage lighting and HDTV’s. I know this, because I am a makeup artist. I get nervous for other makeup artists. I want them to do well. I yearn for blended, un-orange skin. …

Let’s explore symbolism, parallels, and basic parts of speech, y’all!

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Michelle Wolf didn’t shame Sarah Huckabee Sanders for her appearance. She told a joke addressing Sander’s hootenanny of lies to the White House Press Corp, while hypothesizing she uses the ash-of-her-lies to create a ‘perfect smokey eye’. Let’s break down the viability of looks-shaming here.

If she uses the ashes of lies to make a smokey eye, that is incredibly industrious! Sadly, lies can only symbolically become ashes, and a symbol is a ‘mark, sign, or word that indicates an idea, object, or relationship.’ I know that last bit seems a wee bit remedial, but if folks are claiming Wolf look-shamed Sanders, we’ve got some work to do. The only thing that could feasibly become actual ashes at the bitter end of lies is the rapid burning of forest or drought-areas after the EPA is done ‘opposite day-ing’ it’s actual purpose. Ashes to ashes, dry forests. …

Everything is great so let’s get glam!

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Courtesy of Munch and Fil Vocasek

Hey guys! It’s me. Thought I’d holler at y’all with some hot tips on how to achieve a sultry smokey eye, in case you’re feeling particularly femme fatale this season, or are in a hurry to achieve some beauty goals since it could be our final fall forever-ever. Nothing like the end-times to pull out all the stops! …

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I first felt that I could be my own person when I realized I could put something bright on my lips. I was allowed in elementary school to wear lipstick when performing in plays or dance recitals, or I could ‘play’ if I asked properly, and would ask if I could wear the color up an down the block before removing it. I was a born bright-lip exhibitionist. I’d sneak into my mom’s make-up drawers and would slather colors on my face and lips until I felt satisfied. It took layers until I felt that click of satisfaction. When it was right, it was brain-buzzingly perfect.

Upon my entering 7th grade, I was told “You can pick ONE make-up product, and put it on here at home, and then that is it.” I decided on an Estee Lauder orang-ey pink and I put it on and on and on and on and until until it was probably a centimeter thick. When my ride picked me up for school, my friend’s mom said “Well, you sure have something on your lips.’ I proudly tossed my hair and responded, ‘YEAH I do.”

When you’re young you don’t give a whit. You like the strange things you’re drawn to, regardless of how silly others may think you look. You are what you are, unfiltered. At least I was. My most confident years were those before 13 or 14, which is the age many girls start apologizing for themselves (but that is another story for a different kind of day). …

Do our current leaders trust makeup artists?

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There’s a siren going off my head, growing louder by the day since the new administration took power. It blares as certain faces flash across the screen. I could be talking about so many things, but I’m currently talking about makeup. My brow furrows as I ponder how all of this has happened. Who is powdering these faces?

Maybe most of us are simply used to it now — but haven’t you once wondered: Why is Trump Orange? IS Steve Bannon actually OK, health-wise? Why does Stephen Miller look like he’s sweating under so much matte makeup? Who did Kellyanne Conway’s makeup today? She could look better! Is there anyone in the wings over there with some powder and a comb? The universe bellows back “I don’t think so”. It leads me to wonder if there’s something deeper going on? I ask this as a concerned citizen, emotional empath, and professional makeup artist.

It’s easy, cruel fun to pick apart how people look on television. It’s a catty sport many of us play. I’m occasionally conflicted about my right to judge the appearances of those who aren’t myself. I justify any judgements based on my career: I have an opinion on faces! After working on thousands of faces, I can definitively say I know when a client is happy, sad, or is struggling with a soul that is restless. I know when a person lives and dies by bronzer, even if they show up clean-faced. I know whether or not someone will suggest contour, regardless of age. I can tell by the darting of one’s eyes whether they trust me, or anyone else for that matter. A seasoned artist can tell whether or not a client is comfortable in their own skin. I have never ever seen a crew of bandits who knew themselves less than the Trump administration, and I’ve only seen them on screens. …

how potions and beauty routines connect me to my roots

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My great grandmother Nana wore Oil of Olay and smoked Menthol Kools. She was a warm, solitary woman with tight curls who sat in a faded green chair and told us stories about growing up poor during the depression. She made strawberry jam and crafted my cousin and I beloved dolls out of towels which we creatively called ‘towel-dolls’. What I remember the most is the scent of Olay with a gentle ‘cigarette smoke’ note.

It’s a poignant perfume, which is why I can’t use Oil of Olay to this day. That scent is tightly held in the corner of my brain reserved for memories of Nana. The descriptions of so many that I’ve loved begin with a scent, or a memory of how they groomed themselves. Our beauty potions and perfumes floating around like gentle ghost’s for those we’ve held close in life.

I’ve been dosing myself in moisturizer and scents since I was a kid. It’s a cottage industry on both sides of my family branches. We all spent summers in the sun, coated thickly in sunscreen, then were encouraged to moisturize instantly post shower. This is the only time to moisturize productively (did anyone else’s mothers, aunts, or grandmothers repeat this thousands of times?) Before bed one should always moisturize his or her face. I’d tap vaseline around my eyes just like mom did. She looked good and I prayed I would grow up in a similar fashion. Guess what? The reports are true— us little ladies are taught real early that our looks are incredibly vitally, ridiculously all important. Am I aware that’s a little bit bullshit? Read my future essay ‘The Bullshit Reality That My Face and Body Are More Important Than My Mind, and Other Rants’ next Tuesday. Today, I choose to punch things out in the middle of the beauty ring, swinging happily while I enjoy the trappings of taking care of my skin and smelling like a flower. Can there be strength in that? …

-fifteen years in, a guide to the banal, beautiful, and existential life of this new yorker

Squanting- Verb used to describe the runwalksquat with hand apologetically raised that people do when rushing to cross street against the light. Squanting is also a popular form of forward movement when rushing to an approaching train. It is important to note that squanting makes one move more slowly than when simply walking. ‘The lady squanted across 4th avenue, sheepishly hurrying to outpace the rapidly approaching bus’

Tipsy Jaunt- Post cocktail, the walk to wherever you’re going next. It’s a happy jaunt, as you joyfully tipsily traipse somewhere while listening to a a favorite song with your jacket on and you’re cute and the wind is brisk and the city is alive and you’re alive and you can pay your rent and you have money for drinks and maybe you’ll grab a slice or text that cute guy or maybe you’ll go home and sit on your fire escape and just take in all of the goodness this city has to offer. …

Once just reserved for actors on a proscenium stage, aging celebrities, or drag queens — full facial contouring has hit the strip malls, 7-eleven parking lots, and high-schools of America.

Adele’s cover this past winter on Time is pure delicious make-up candy to me — original, bold, vulnerable and sexy as hell. She’s staring towards camera draped in a red sweater, done up perfectly in heavy-handed contour. The first moment I saw the cover, I was instantly inspired to try harder at embracing my femininity in full-female-drag (the heightened, un-lazy version of myself has always been a bit trashy and vampy). Conversely, many Kardashian-like images make me shudder. Which is an issue I’ve been pondering. …

The Ungirly Notion of Make-up

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I love being a make-up artist. I feel powerful at my job. I am in control at my job. I’m good at it. I’m successful in bringing what has perhaps been stripped away from many women and occasional men. Dormant-lying confidence as they struggle with being seen as objects, being seen as powerful, or being old past 30. Women cut themselves down and apologize in the make-up chair for things I can’t see because I’ve come to realize what we see is often what society has projected on us. Sometimes we need to polish the lens to see ourselves clearly. Sometimes a little gloss does the trick. …


Sarah Graalman

Makeup Artist. Writer. Dip-maker. www.sarahgraalman.com

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