Thursday, April 16, 2009
Many people are slaves to fashion. They will blindly follow the trends presented to them as the height of attractiveness, regardless of the actual appeal. Or at least, one can only assume they do it blindly. There's not much of an excuse for those of us with fully functional vision to jump on the bandwagon.
Body Glitter is a prime example of this lemming-style following. We sheepishly (yes, sheepishly) look back at our complete lack of individuality and low sense of self as we wince and grimace over old photos of us sporting the most absurd of fashion statements. It was so obviously unbecoming, unsubtle, and unsightly, but we begged our parents to buy us great pots of the glittery goop nonetheless. We weren't picky about its form; it could be semi-gelatinous or congealed, liquid or solid, roll-on or spray mist, lip gloss or nail polish. If it sparkled, we were desperate to get our hands on it.
For young girls growing up in the 1990s, glitter was like a broad-point neon highlighter. We assumed that if there was something we wanted to call attention to, the only viable solution was to douse it in sparkles. How were middle school boys ever going to notice your stunningly feminine clavicle bones if not for carefully calculated application of glitter to that area? How, I ask you?
The glitter was ubiquitous. If there was some appreciably visible surface on our bodies, it was subsequently slathered in glitter. No bodily territory was sacred. We didn't so much treat our bodies as temples but as fun-houses. Cosmetic companies produced all fathomable forms of the stuff. You could paint it on your nails, gloss it on your lips, smear it across your chest and shoulders, or even spray or comb it into your hair. If there was an area you wanted glittered, cosmetic companies were eager to oblige and feed our frenzied desire to ensparkle every inch of ourselves.
Makeup companies like Hard Candy and Urban Decay capitalized on our vulnerability to sweeping trends and presented us with an unending array of glitterizers. They knew we were eager to indiscriminately smear glitter all over our faces, and they were properly prepared with plenty of sparkly ammunition.
Hard Candy supplied us with sugary-sweet candy-colored glittery nail polishes with names like Sunshine and Sky.
In contrast, Urban Decay provided us with an endless palette of of shimmery eye shadows with such charming designations as Asphyxia and Acid Rain.
Oddly, these companies marketed to the same demographic and we consumed them both with little thought of subscribing to two absolutely incongruous cosmetic-producing forces. As middle schoolers, we weren't much for irony. It is pertinent to mention that these companies are now owned by the same parent corporation, presumably stuck together with all the remaining mucilaginous glitter residue in their respective R & D departments.
With respect to our aimless glitter consumption, the problem was not so much in the shimmering. Sure, it can be nice to bring focus to some key areas through the subtle use of mainstream cosmetics. However, as sixth graders, we lacked this global perspective on socially acceptable makeup and instead sought out more age-appropriate incarnations of our earlier childhood EZ-2-do bedazzlers. It seemed harmless enough. What was the worst that could happen? So we sparkled for a few hours, and then we could rinse it off.
Or so we thought.
There's one serious problem with glitter that middle school girls of the 90s failed to foresee.
It. Never. Washes. Off.
Seriously. Never. If you don't believe me, consult Demetri Martin and/or this t-shirt (available here):
It never washes off.
It does, however, behave in some other notably unfortunate ways. I'm not sure if you're aware, but bodies tend to sweat, especially when thrust into a mid-90s rave-type setting (before they were all busted by Dateline NBC, that is.) While 250 young girls are out in some abandoned warehouse taking ecstasy, listening to techno music, and waving glow sticks, the carefully preapplied sparkles at the corners of their eyes and on their shoulders are beginning to gelatinize. There was no more disgusting visual as curdled, clumpy body glitter. Fortunately for the precendent ravers, they were fortuitously swathed in the incessant flash of strobe lights. Less lucky for us girls caught in such a dilemma at say, a bar mitzvah party or a junior high dance, where we were decidedly SOL under the harsh fluorescent lighting of the synagogue auditorium or school cafeteria.
Despite our knowledge of the semi-permanent consequences, we pressed on in our quests to out-sparkle our peers. While "body glitter" is a fairly unobjectionable blanket term, some of the products housed under that broad umbrella were downright revolting. Those of us with the most minor of flairs for subtlety would opt for a tub of glitter gel or a misting glitter body spray, but the major attention seekers in our 7th grade classes were blatantly envelope-pushing. They would paint it on their nails, only to realize they would remain in that fossilized form for years to come. These girls weren't content with shimmering Bonne Bell Lipsmackers like the rest of us; they had to resort to full on chunks-of-glitter in their lipsticks. They were also the targets of one of the more loathsome and confusing products to be launched by mid-90s cosmetic corporations.
Say it with me now: glitter hair mascara.
But wait, you say. Isn't mascara for eyelashes? What on earth is it doing in your hair?
Well, we were wondering the same thing. Unfortunately for us, our impressionability to peer pressure at that age left us powerless to stop this force. Yes, we dutifully combed glitter into our hair, only to find ourselves completely and utterly cemented to our pillows the next morning. But dammit, did our hair sparkle.
Whether you were a glitter dabbler or devotee, one thing was for certain: if you chose to apply it to your body, you were in for the long haul. As chemists project the glitter to have a 10 year half-life*, you're probably still scrubbing yourself raw in an effort to remove it.
Of course you're not alone. You can seek help here, here, or here, though there are no guarantees.
And if that doesn't work, well, you'll always have your sparkling memories firmly adhered to your cheekbones.
*This scientific fact is completely made up. Get it? Made-up? Makeup? Okay, fine, don't come along with me for that one. Either way, it's not true.
Check it out:
A website fully devoted to the sale of all things body glitter
The ultimate horror: a make your own body glitter kit