“I can’t have pink eye, I’m a grown-up!”
I uttered that sentence last week, and as soon as I said it I knew I was doomed, because I’m pretty sure nobody has ever uttered that sentence without actually having pink eye. I had been so careful! I wash my hands all the time. I’m so fastidious I even managed to avoid infection back in college, when my university was struck by an outbreak of pink eye so enormous that the CDC came to study us and published a bunch of scientific studies that were basically titled, “WTF, pink eye is for kindergartens! What are these college students doing touching each other’s eyeballs all the time?”
But now I have a baby, and babies bring weird baby diseases, and now I’ve had pink eye. I’ll probably catch cooties next.
Unfortunately, pink eye is basically just a relatively benign eye disease, so it might not actually justify staying in bed and watching TV all day. If you get nice antibacterial eye drops from your doctor, it should go away shortly. In the meantime, if you have to go outside, here are some tips for dealing with pink eye:
1. No eye makeup.
I was supposed to try out a new eyeliner this week, but then I got pink eye. You basically want to avoid eye makeup while you have pink eye, because pink eye is pretty contagious and gets all over everything. You could get some single-use makeup brushes and be very careful about dipping them into your makeup, but let’s be honest, a sparkly gold eye liner or aubergine mascara is not going to distract anybody from the fact that your eyeball looks like an Atomic Fireball, and you don’t want to risk infecting your precious beauty products and having to throw them away.
Your lips are still safe, though, so go ahead and put on some bright red lipstick. Hell, rub it on your teeth while you’re at it. Anything to draw people’s eyes to your mouth and not your eyes.
2. Embrace your inner Anna Wintour.
Wearing sunglasses at night or indoors is generally a bit too-cool-for-school, but if there’s ever a time to embrace your inner Anna Wintour, it’s when you have a flaming case of pink eye. Anybody who sees your oozing red eyeball is going to be grossed out and want to run away from you, so this is a very good time to start wearing sunglasses. Actually, a pink eye outbreak is a good time to wear those lightly tinted fashion sunglasses that seemed like a good idea until you realized they didn’t actually block much sun. Even a lightly tinted lens will obscure the pink eye, so you don’t have to resort to the Ray-Bans or mirrorshades. A pair of tinted aviators will look just fine. (But the mirrorshades are cool, too.) Just make sure not to lend your glasses to anyone, or you could pass on the pink eye too.
3. Embrace your inner pirate.
Back when I lived in Japan, there were medical eye patches for sale in any convenience store, and I would often see people wearing them in the street. A nice, soft eye patch covers things up and actually is a bit of a relief if your eye is watery and you are trying very, very hard not to touch it. But a soft, white medical patch is clearly a medical accessory and might freak people out a bit. Will the barista want to take your money at Starbucks if she thinks you have pink eye? You could try to get a free coffee out of it, but you could also try an eye patch that doubles as an accssory.
In 2008 there was a pink eye epidemic at Fashion Week. One infected model showed up, and thanks to eye makeup brushes, the infection spread to a lot of others. A lot of models probably just wound up losing their jobs because designers didn’t want to send women with pink eye down the runway, but the infection also hit supermodel Agyness Deyn, who was the coolest model on the runway at the time. Nobody wanted to cut her, so Alexander McQueen just made her a cool little eye patch to match her outfit. It was a neat effect, and she looked like a badass fashion pirate.
Basically, you have three options:Sunglasses, badass fashion pirate, or grown-ass woman with pink eye. Hopefully you will avoid catching pink eye, because it is itchy and embarrassing, but if you do just try to embrace it. When else are you going to have an excuse to wear a bedazzled eye patch to Starbucks?