The "Kleenix"

Man, I feel like a woman (at a price)

The Phoenix takes on fake eyelashes in the name of beauty

Life is full of rites of passage. As a female, I hold many of these events near and dear to my heart — being able to fill out a real bra, finally learning how to properly apply blush and getting my eyebrows torn out for the first time are at the top of my list.

This weekend I engaged in yet another hallmark of womanhood when I arrived at a salon that caters specifically to the eyelash-challenged of the greater Chicago area. It is at this fine establishment that I subjected the area in and around my eyes to moderately unbearable discomfort for three hours in order to increase the length of my eyelashes by approximately one centimeter.

In true “secret society” style, the door to the salon was locked, so I had to ring a doorbell to be let in. I then filled out a sheet of paper indicating that I did not wear contacts, that it was my first time receiving eyelash extensions, and that I could remain lying down with my eyes closed for two hours. The last one seemed like a no-brainer — I tend to get the recommended eight hours of sleep each night, so why would I not be able to lie down with my eyes closed for two hours? Oh, how naive I was.

I was offered the typical classy salon drinks (there was even a Keurig) and escorted to my very small, not-as-private-as-I-would-have-liked room. It was about the size of my kitchen pantry, and a blast of heat from the vent above hit me as soon as I stepped past the sheer curtain. This blast should have indicated that I was walking into hell, but I ignored this sign in the name of fashion and womanhood.

I lay down on the very uncomfortable table (with an exceptionally uncomfortable section right under where my butt was, which became especially annoying about an hour and a half into the process), and my stylist taped down my bottom eyelashes. She told me this was one of the worst parts because she had to come at my eyeball with the tape but I had to remain looking at her. It turned out to not be too awful, and I even got a free pore cleaning or two or six when she adjusted the tape on my nose.

After that, I put my headphones in and started listening to the Serial podcast while my eyelashes were individually separated with tweezers or some other metal instrument of torture, and a synthetic lash was glued in between my au naturel ones. The constant prodding and poking and feeling that something was in my eye continued uneventfully for about an hour until it suddenly stopped.

This pause was longer than the typical pauses between placing eyelashes. Two minutes went by, maybe three, maybe 500 (time blends together when you are firmly instructed to keep your eyes closed).

I started to sweat. I got dizzy (which I didn’t even know was possible when your eyes are closed). I may or may not have opened my eyes just a tiny bit out of instinct and then abruptly shut them out of fear of glue getting in my eye before I could even see the outside world. My sock fell off and I struggled to put it back on. Then my stylist came back from the bathroom.

Two more hours of poking and eyelash placing, and then a couple minutes of brushing and fanning and I was done.

At this point, I was unsure if I even remembered how to open my eyes. I was also nervous that my eyelids would be too weak to lift the weight of my new lashes. But the tape was removed and it was my time to shine.

Turns out my eyelids are stronger than I thought (or, more likely, the lashes just didn’t weigh that much) and I was able to open my eyes. Then I got dizzy again, either from the shock of no longer being blind or the fact that it had been five hours since I last ate.

But when I looked in the mirror it was all… for shit. For $200, my eyelashes now look like they have mascara on them when they actually don’t. But man, I feel like a woman.

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Ashley Iannantone is a senior biochemistry major with minors in neuroscience, Spanish, and biostatistics. A self-proclaimed foodie with a passion for journalism, this is her fourth year working for The PHOENIX and third year in the A&E section. When she's not hunkering down with a bowl of pasta, you can find her volunteering at St. Joseph Hospital or running along the lake shore path (so that she can eat more pasta).

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