Michelle Wolf and the Lie-Ashes of Sander’s Makeup Caboodle

Sarah Graalman
5 min readApr 30, 2018


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

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. But what do *I* know I’m just a makeup artist and addressing lie-ash based shadows, as was penned in a comedian’s stand-up routine.

Which was brilliant.

If lies literally became ashes we’d be so much better off— we’d have physical proof of this or any other administration’s false-hoods. Plus, we’d have so much eye makeup! So much that L’oreal might go out of business. Why would anyone pay full price when consumers could simply gather outside DC or various state capitals, scoopin’ up themselves free shadows? “We care about teacher’s salaries!’ BOOM. A year’s worth of the nation’s smokey eye-colors. Don’t get your hopes up for free shadows, public educators — we’re just spitballing on the definitions of words like literal and symbolic, in relation to a stand-up routine.

L’oreal is going to be fine. Public schools? I don’t know.

Did you see Michelle Wolf say Sanders used lie-ashes to make a ‘perfect’ smokey eye? Perfect. That’s a compliment! A literal compliment, in fact. So far, we have symbolic makeup being used with perfect real technique by Mrs. Sanders. I’d state the definition of ‘perfect’ for everyone, but I trust we all know that word falls into the ‘positive’ column of adjectives. Adjectives are words that modify nouns. She (Sarah, our subject) has makeup that is perfect. The lies (verb!) are real as well. The lies are invisible but because they’re verbs that move the action of the joke along. Actually, now that we’ve moved into sentence structure let’s basic structure-up this joke: Sarah (subject/proper noun) uses (verb) a lie-ash (symbol) to apply (predicate/verb) her perfect (adjective) makeup (direct object of sentence). The only imagined thing in that joke is the shadow.

Look-shame free joke, y’all. Very well executed. Feel free to diagram that sentence if you’re feeling nostalgic.

Further — Wolf elevated Sarah Huckabee Sander’s makeup prowess, dreaming up a version of Sanders creative enough to utilize ash as a viable product. In my years as a makeup artist, only one knock-out of a woman has ever stated that she used actual ash as eye-makeup. She’s a legendary showgirl and one of the most memorable women I’ve ever spoken to about makeup technique. She told me that backstage at venues in the 1970’s they’d occasionally use the ash of cigarettes as eyeshadow. If you’ve got a show to do and no CVS nearby, that’s both brilliant and ballsy. Imaginary Industrious Smokey Eye’d Huckabee is in fine company.

Aside from doing a perfect smokey eye, Sanders twists the WHPC narratives as part of this administrations attempting to set women back many many years. They lie a lot about so much else. Look at this chart of White House lies. Sanders shames reporters for asking legit questions, flipping facts and phrases against as them and questioning their intentions and occasionally their goodness of heart. It’s weird to watch.

The look on Sander’s face Saturday night is similar to the expression that washes across my face when I watch White House Press Briefings, so Saturday was very meta. We’re being roasted, but daily! Don’t be mad at Wolf, a hilariously brave woman whose job is to tell jokes and be brutally honest. Be mad that the people holding both our own government and press to the highest standard aren’t the people running the government or the press.

The shame is that some can’t tell the difference between discussing women in power who abuse that power and ‘looks shaming’. Michelle Wolf can say Sanders reminds her of Aunt Lydia in Handmaid’s Tale because the Trump administration actively is pursuing taking away basic women’s rights — not because she looks like her. If fact, she doesn’t look like her at all. Sander’s makeup is much better! Her clothes are just fine — she doesn’t wear a bonnet or a cape, so they’re not remotely the same. It’s a joke about the actions of both created character and real person in government. Parallels! The problem is not being able realize what the joke was, or know what parallels are anymore. I should write my 7th grade English teacher a thank you note after this.

Whittling women down to the nuts and bolts of their appearances is done by the press with pristine regularity. It’s done by our President as his most favorite hobby. Wolf didn’t do this on Saturday night. The Trump officials who are women were roasted for being false mouthpieces to a crass and cartoonishly evil administration.

Sanders is the most visible mouthpiece, and deserves every verbal spar or comedic hit. Sanders should be held accountable for being incredibly bad at her job, which is to report the truth of our government’s inner-workings to the Press, so they can report the truth to the rest of us sweltering under this heap of hot-ash lies. Her actual eye makeup is just fine — in fact, it’s great. If Sanders can handle the mental gymnastics of her job, then she can figure out the difference between a job critique and one perfect symbolic joke about eye-shadow and lies.