Maskne

Georgiana DiNunzio supposed she chose the worst possible moment in history (other than living under Cleopatra’s monopolized reign) to start her own makeup line. It had taken her years not only to save up her own personal reserve of capital that would go toward kick-starting the business, but also to secure a separate investor who would pony up for what she did her best to convince them was a brand so unique and revolutionary, even Fenty would swoon in jealousy. It took a lot for Georgiana to say that without quivering, for she feared Rihanna herself might descend from the ceiling like a spider to spit in her face for going against the most hallowed brand in the makeup game at this moment. But she said it, and somehow, they bought it. Giving her hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of money for manufacturing and marketing. 

She could hardly believe her good fortune, and she was, indeed, right to question it. For her life had not been one that was marked by very much luck. When she was six, her mother died. The mother who might have taught her how to apply makeup (possibly why she became so fixated on it), or that boys will look for any reason to brand you as a slut. The mother who left her all alone with a father who simply did not want to talk. Not just about his wife’s death, but anything. All he wanted to do was work, and ignore. The same way he ignored her frequent mentions that she didn’t feel quite right just as her fifteenth birthday passed. Of course, she didn’t want to also inform him that part of this feeling stemmed from realizing she hadn’t gotten her period in two months. And it was about two months ago that she sacrificed her virginity to the quarterback, who assured her he would pull out and that using a condom was entirely paranoid. Well, turns out, it wasn’t.

Thus, Georgiana was almost glad her father was too negligent to pay much attention to her initial complaints of pain, turning instead to a friend who took her to the clinic to get “the procedure.” Only that friend didn’t turn out to be so much of one when she informed the entire school of Georgiana’s abortion. So much for a low profile and getting through the rest of high school in relative peace. The relentless ridicule got to be so bad that Georgiana eventually transferred, her father solemnly signing the papers without addressing the reason behind the need for her to flee. 

So yes, one could say Georgiana’s existence up to this point had been rather steeped in tragic loss, and that she was afraid somehow it would come again. That this stroke of seeming good luck would crash down at any moment. And it did. It began to really gain momentum in March, though people were still not required to wear masks then. The investors, however, were already growing skittish, yet could not contractually withdraw what was left of their money until Georgiana had actually failed. And she knew the instant she clicked the button on her website that would make it go live on April 1 that she would. Fail. That makeup was no longer something women were putting as much emphasis on. At least not the kind of foundation-centric products she was selling.

While eye shadow and eye liner might remain bankable, Georgiana hadn’t put as much money into them as her patented formula for foundation and concealer. Something no one wanted to apply because putting a mask over one’s face not only smeared it (and soiled the mask itself), but also further compounded the ever-increasing issue of “maskne”: acne caused from the sweat-induced nature of wearing a mask. The full weight of what that meant to women wouldn’t take hold completely until things heated (therefore sweated) up in May, but even before then, sales for her products were nowhere near what they needed to be just to break even. 

Stalked by her investors, her creditors, every person she had ever borrowed a penny from who needed it back now during this economic fallout, Georgiana felt more plagued by the aftershocks of corona than the prospect of getting corona itself. And worst of all, she was completely alone in that apartment. She dreaded going out to get groceries, taunted by ads for her Skin Deep brand at every turn. Oh the curse of living in New York, where advertising was almost as pervasive as talentless hacks. She regretted putting so much of the money into this marketing blitzkrieg now, for it made going outside even scarier. She would often wait until the absolute last possible minute to go out to retrieve a new batch of food, going so far as to live off the dregs of peanut butter so she wouldn’t have to endure the sidewalks and see the Skin Deep ads everywhere. 

In late June came a further kick to her jugular. An old nemesis from college with absolutely no business savvy or general acumen of any kind was going viral with a new product she had created out of the “beauty tragedy” wrought by COVID. She was calling it Maskne Guard, a “clinically developed solution for acne caused by wearing a mask.” The sales absolutely skyrocketed within the first week of its release, and her investors continued to hound Georgiana about her own inefficacy at rallying with some innovative marketing schemes to compete. She knew there was no amount of innovation that could stop Maskne Guard from excelling. And even if she came up with/garnered funds for a copycat product, it wouldn’t matter. And it would also feel utterly anathema to the goal she had made for herself. To the genuine belief she had in her own product, once upon a time. Before the women of the world saw that use of foundation was, well, utterly foundationless. 

By the time fall rolled around, Georgiana had been forced to move out of her apartment, taking to the streets with nothing more than her rollable Louis Vuitton trunk (she was aware of the irony–looking so initially decadent as a freshly made homeless person). It didn’t take long for her to get in a squabble with someone near Central Park. A man whose “turf” she had imposed upon. He offered to spare her life in exchange for the LV and its contents. She laughed, softly at first–but then diabolically. The fellow homeless man looked at her in vague surprise, even though he had seen it all in his life. Yet gazing at her now, he could see that he was watching a woman crack completely before his very eyes.

He inched away, realizing that the only thing more terrifying than a violent man was a violent woman. In her eyes it was written that she had even less to lose than he did. And that was truly a sight to behold… apart from her maskne-pocked face, shown in all its pus-filled glory as she had long ago dispensed with use of a face covering in the hope of death overtaking her. It would be easier than clawing her way out of financial ruin.

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