Next stop: fab­u­lous


Marie Claire (South Africa) - - BULLETIN -

glanc­ing over at the ma­niac driver who’s just swerved in front of you, the one thing more frus­trat­ing than find­ing them on their phone is to see them pressed up against the rear-view mir­ror – mas­cara wand in hand, the steer­ing wheel un­der the in­com­pe­tent guid­ance of an el­bow.

Spruc­ing on the go is an hon­oured tra­di­tion for work­ing women the world over, as they shove in the im­per­a­tive to look good with the im­per­a­tive to jug­gle ev­ery­thing else. ‘I felt like if I got caught in the con­fines of a sub­way car, I can get in more trou­ble than I’m want­ing to deal with at this age, ’the renowned US street pho­tog­ra­pher, Jeff Mer­mel­stein, told The New York Times, de­scrib­ing his se­ries of pho­to­graphs that sur­rep­ti­tiously cap­ture women mak­ing them­selves up dur­ing their com­mute on New York’s sub­ways. For­tu­nately for Mer­mel­stein, the task of paint­ing one’s face is pretty all-en­gross­ing and, while puck­er­ing, lac­quer­ing and roug­ing, the women didn’t seem to no­tice his furtive lens un­til he’d al­ready got­ten his shot.

The make-up se­ries raises a ques­tion of ur­ban eti­quette: are you al­lowed to sub­ject an au­di­ence to an un­in­vited show of ‘Cirque du Face’? (Any more than you’re al­lowed to be­gin floss­ing or clip­ping your nails?) ‘I feel very self-con­scious when I’m do­ing it,’ one of the women Mer­mel­stein pho­tographed con­fessed. ‘But when I look at [other] people, I’m just like: “How’s it gonna look when they’re done?”’ An­other woman, caught mid-primp, was less apologetic. ‘You look bet­ter when you first ar­rive,’ she said. ‘Your make-up’s nice and fresh.’ This rel­a­tively com­mon prac­tice also can’t help but re­flect some­thing about the city which tol­er­ates it: the rushed sense of ev­ery minute count­ing that is syn­ony­mous with New York, cou­pled with the vast tran­sient pop­u­la­tion that makes a packed sub­way car­riage full of strangers feel as anony­mous as your own bed­room mir­ror. Jeffmer­mel­

Mer­mel­stein re­al­ized that these women,no mat­ter what they were ap­ply­ing, were far too fo­cused on per­fect­ing their look to even no­tice that their pho­to­graph was be­ing taken.

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