Seeing

Andy speaks in catch phrases.

At the end of the day, he tells me, you have to do what they tell you. If you know what side your bread is buttered on.

He’s referring to my resistance to an ad we’re designing that currently features the image of a seven-year-old girl in a princess dress, a girl who is wearing not only lipstick but also and to my deeper chagrin, eyeliner, eye shadow, and mascara. And her eyebrows are shaped. I imagine Loretta, who does my brows every four to six weeks, literally eye to eye with this child: her laser-smoothed face inches from this natural youthful glow, her eyes—which she had done last year—studying the girl’s orbital bones and brow growth pattern; I imagine Loretta breathing her minty breath into the girl’s unmapped mien and then nodding as she pats Cinderella on the shoulder, locks her gaze, smiles, and says, Honey, I don’t tell many people this—for obvious reasons—but I would leave them as they are. You don’t need shaping. The Brooke Shields wild look works for you, so I would rock it.

If I had thought back then, when I said No, I want this shit tamed, that my adherence to custom would reinforce a general attitude that would eventually careen out of control to the point where mothers, in pushing their girls to be princesses, fashion them into porn stars, I would have rocked my caterpillars with defiant pride, I would have taken Loretta’s words as affirmation that I had been right to slap away my mother’s hands when she first tried to take a tweezers to my face. Wouldn’t I?

Andy has more to say.

You can’t un-ring that bell, Sara. The kid’s bed is made. At least she’s making money for it. How many girls get paid to live out their mothers’ dreams?

When I’m nervous or embarrassed or just puzzled, I touch my right eyebrow, follow the arch from nose to temple, the way I watched my mother do. I suppose this small stroke, this subtle tribute connects us and reassures me, though of what I do not know. I trace the perfect curve Loretta has designed, drag my finger slowly across all the decisions I have made, as if that will help me make this one before me now.

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