No sleep is the new/old

drinks Bistro du Midi

Shop Girl by Kitty Kaufman

Front page in the Style section of The Sunday Times: "The Sleep-Deprived Look is Now Chic. On social media, creators are uncovering their undereye bags, and emphasizing them." Pointedly, there is a photo of Sara Carstens, a model who is also a TikTok star, with a pout or maybe it's just her resting face. She is 19, it says on Famous birthdays. It goes on to add she graduated high school in 2020. I have to say she looks deprived in no way at all.

The woman who wrote the story who is named Danya Issawi, is older. I found that out, not in a creepy way, on LinkedIn. She could be 24. On her Twitter page, which you don't have to be on Twitter to see, there's a link to her site: Danya Issawi. She looks just fine too. To say both women are good-looking is missing the point.

They are the ones, not the exact ones of course, who roll out looking not too shabby, after three hours of sleep. They skip makeup but, it should be noted, not online. They're out in pajamas and puffy coats because really, why not? They are the trendsetters who, in 2010, were streaking their hair gray. Not these exact women of course. In 2010 gray hair was the new/old.

"No one asking for gray streaks," I wrote back then, "is old enough to have any real gray to worry about. Of course." In 2010 I already had a standing date with my colorist for ten years. Ten years later the new/old is adding undereye circles to faces with no flaws to speak of. How did I not see this coming?

Sara Carstens looks like she is about to apply brown lipstick under her eyes. She holds the tube beside her nose, where someone with dark circles would start to trowel on concealer. "The entire goal is to normalize dark circles," she said. One of the viewers of her video on TikTok commented: "I did not spend 18 years trying to cover these up for them to become trendy." Not me either.

Another woman, Danielle Marcan, is quoted as saying that accentuating dark circles is about "accepting your own insecurities." Marcan is of an age that she does not mind getting up close and personal to a lens on Instagram. She is 22, according to Famous birthdays. I don't see that she has a single wrinkle other than applying scads of wildly hued eyeshadow. Fittingly, Influence4You lists her as "one of the coolest makeup girls on social media." On Instagram she reminds me of Katherine Heigl, who I'm sure would not be caught dead with circles, real or otherwise.

It's Tuesday, and a writer is calling! From the Times! She's doing a story about what's new! and needs a picture of your undereye circles. You take one that shows you almost applying brown lipstick under your eyes. Not only are there no circles, there is not a smidge of brown. There is the thought of brown but no actual brown. Here you have it: A story highlighting a trend about looking awful ends up without anyone having to look awful. Sign me up.

Fashion. It makes me think about, there is no other word, dopey trends coming between me and new stuff. In tee shirts and jeans, you would think I never shop and worse, that I am unfashionable. You're right about the unfashionable part; I remember quite clearly my own New York mother saying at one point: "You look like Boston."

I shop. I get mail every day from my favorite store. Designers bring holes in denim, combat boots with gauzy dresses, leggings, and tiny skirts paired with three-inch heels on platforms. Even sneakers have platforms whether you want them or not. Pants with no pockets. That's not true, there are no pants, or as they used to be called: slacks. I miss slacks. Slacks had pockets and belt loops. You could send them to the dry cleaner and they came back with a crease. There are shoes with eyelets but apparently there is a worldwide shortage of laces. Cool flats, or mules, that have no backs. I ask myself, What if I'm wearing mules and I must run away? Trouble, not trouble like losing my concealer, but still.

I am picturing an editor on Eighth Avenue up against deadline: hmm, undereye circles could be the new/old thing: "Get me a writer and a TikTok star." And there it is. No one is over 30 and no one with any facial imperfections was consulted either, not counting the eyeshadow. It turns out there is a lot of talk about embracing bags and circles, but no one here has a bag or for that matter, a circle or even a freckle. Of course.

If you don't know, and how could you not, there is more discrimination against old than all the misogynistic behavior since the beginning of time when, if you made it to 40, you were referred to as an elder. So you have to wonder, why do companies boast they've been in business for over/nearly 20, 30 or 100 years? I could do that, write copy and make bags of money, but then I remember: I have nothing new to wear.

A long time ago, Aunt Sally told me: old is old. And her brother, my dad, said when I was 30 and whining about being carded in Pittsburgh, not exactly a progressive place for a New Yorker, to never tell anyone how old you are. Now I've figured out that old can be a good thing. It is a good thing if you sell Scotch or own a museum. Rubbing brown crayon on your face to look old and tired, I'm not sorry to say, is dumb. Much much dumber than gray streaks. It does make for copy though, that it does.

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© April 20, 2021
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