The smell of hot garlic butter and shrimp traveled from the kitchen to my bedroom. It was a Sunday afternoon and I had just showered. I had just put on a grey cowl neck sweater with darker grey sweatpants. I combed and parted my wet hair, flicking droplets of shower water onto the wood floor. Lately, even when I don’t leave the house, I wear makeup. I tug a stick of brown eyeliner across my eyelid and nudge it into the outer corners, hoping to make my eyes more vibrant and fascinating. My mother tells me that lipstick can fix anything. A swollen face. A sad mood. A challenged complexion. I’ve come to depend on lipstick as if it’s properties are versatile and lifesaving like coconut oil or Vaseline. Cranberry shades are the best for me mentally. I prefer a rosier pink when my body won’t cooperate. Sometimes I don’t believe that lipstick will make me feel better. It can’t be true. How can a tube of berry colored paste have such a clinical result? How can it be a low dose prescription? A therapy? A yoga class? The healing properties are less obvious and disguised, but I’ve seen how it transforms women and I’ve felt the effects the way a pill sheds its skin inside me. With mascara I am more frugal, saving the dark wand for dinner dates or long days at school or my brother’s orchestra concerts when I know my mother will want a picture. I see it as a useful tool, a full proof remedy, only to be exercised on the most terminal of days when my limbs and mind grow agitated. I thought that Sunday afternoon would call for mascara. It’s a distraction. When I feel pretty, when my exterior looks pampered and organized, I expect my mind to follow, but this is hardly the case.
“I had a picture of Mrs. Willard, with her heather-mixture tweeds and her sensible shoes and her wise, maternal maxims,” (Plath 218).
“‘What a man wants is a mate and what a woman wants is infinite security…What a man is is an arrow into the future and what a woman is is a place the arrow shoots off from,’” (Plath 72).
“…I knew Mrs. Willard was a real fanatic about virginity for men and women both. When I first went to her house for supper she gave me a queer, shrewd, searching look, and I knew she was trying to tell whether I was a virgin or not,” (Plath 71).
“Then she slipped a suit jacket over her lilac blouse…powdered her nose briefly and adjusted her thick spectacles. She looked terrible, but very wise,” (Plath 39).
‘“You ought to read French and German,” Jay Cee said mercilessly, “and probably several other languages as well, Spanish and Italian – better still, Russian. Hundreds of girls flood into New York every June thinking they’ll be editors. You need offer something more than the run-of-the-mill person. You better learn some languages,”’ (Plath 33).
“Jay Cee was going to lunch that noon with two famous writers, a man and a lady. The man had just sold six short stories to the New Yorker and six to Jay Cee…Jay Cee said she had to be careful at this lunch, because the lady write wrote stories too, but she had never had any in the New Yorker…Jay Cee had to flatter the more famous man at the same time as she was careful not to hurt the less famous lady,” (Plath 39).