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How I Came to Embrace My Dark Circles

If Lady Gaga can do it, then I can, too.

under eye circles
The beauty industry constantly reminds us that dark circles are unsightly. They make us look tired and run-down. They’re supposed to be covered up with concealer, treated with under-eye masks, and disguised by any number of other products. This implies that they’re a problem to be fixed, which makes them inherently bad.

Because of this, I used to hate my dark circles and under-eye bags. I tried what seemed like every at-home treatment and brightening product on the market. Some of them helped, at least temporarily, but none of them made a permanent difference, because dark circles and under-eye bags are part of my genetics. Both of my parents and my sister have them, but none as bad as me.

Still, I tried my best.

From freshman year of high school on, I wouldn’t even consider leaving the house without applying a thick layer of concealer. I would follow up with coats upon coats of mascara, doing my best to make my eyes appear bigger and brighter, thinking it would distract from the dark half-moons that sat stubbornly below. I was openly and admittedly jealous of people who could hop out of bed looking refreshed and ready for the day, while I envisioned myself waking up and looking something like a beatnik who had stayed up all night writing, smoking, and drinking whiskey neat.

It took me years to realize that there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s kind of (for lack of a better word) a look. In hindsight, I can trace my sudden change of heart back to when, as a teenager, I watched River Phoenix in Running on Empty. Like so many other girls my age, I was completely enamored by him and his tired and intense eyes. After that, I started to notice a number of other celebrities, from both past and present, who are likewise known for their dark circles. They made them more than a physical attribute—it became something of an accessory.

With the help of this newfound celebrity inspiration, I began to embrace my dark circles and under-eye bags. That’s not to say I threw out all my concealer, because I definitely didn’t. It’s just now I only wear it when I want to, not because I feel like I have to. I’m happy to report that most days I go completely bare, because I appreciate the way dark circles exude a certain type of effortlessness—an “I just rolled out of bed” kind of ease that’s rarely seen in the midst of the L.A. beauty scene, where glamorous, full-coverage makeup still thrives.

So here I am, trying to make a case for the acceptance of dark circles and under-eye bags. I think it’s time we acknowledge the fact that they can be (wait for it) sexy. The proof is in the stars.

James Dean
I can’t discuss dark circles without mentioning James Dean. He was known for his tired eyes, which made him look mysterious and intense, both on screen and off.
Photo: Getty
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