I attended a close friend’s funeral last week. I’d taken some time off at the end of her life, when working my way through a pile of product testers was the last thing I felt like doing, but she unknowingly convinced me to get back in the saddle.
Carey, and many friends and readers like her, is the reason I’m offended by people who tell me how unimportant beauty is, how irrelevant, silly and vain. It reveals a spectacular lack of emotional intelligence, because to many (though not all) people, appearance is a crucial part of our identities; grooming is a form of self-care that allows us to feel like ourselves when our worlds become unrecognisable.
On the day loved ones visited to say goodbye, Carey texted to say she’d decided to wear a sparkly Tom Ford eyeshadow palette. It bolstered her for the unimaginably tough job ahead, and allowed her to control their memory of her face as closer to what it had been before an intruder had stolen it. She packed nine lipsticks for hospital because nice things cheered her; getting made up stopped the mornings and nights bleeding into one bleak continuum. She insisted I maintain her YSL red nails throughout, and never allowed me to leave without giving her a bed-facial with Bodyshop Vitamin E oil. It was my immense privilege. During chemo, she drew on brows not because she was remotely ashamed of her cancer, but because she felt entitled not to be defined by it, and to enjoy the same level of privacy. These rituals were vital coping mechanisms for her. She wasn’t vain, shallow or in denial. She was just unembarrassed that beauty – along with literature, music and a hundred other things – was part of who she was, and determined that cancer would not erode both her character and her body. The importance of beauty to so many is not something you have to understand, but it is something one should respect.
And so, with Carey at the forefront of my mind, I sought makeup to withstand my daily tears and heartbroken delivery of a eulogy. I found Eyeko Me My Shadow waterproof liner (£15) and Maybelline Lash Sensational Waterproof Mascara (£7.99). Both looked as lovely as she would have demanded, and didn’t abandon me when I needed them most.