It's gonna get sappy up in here.
Hey there, your friendly Social Media Editor here! You may have seen me skulking around in the comments or dumping out my purse on camera, but otherwise I know I’ve been pretty quiet. A little bit about me: I used to work in craft beer, I’m not a natural redhead, and increasing abortion access is my jam. Which brings me to this article.
You probably know in an abstract sense that clinics offering abortion services are picketed, but you might not know that this happens even in liberal, true-blue New York City. It does (!!!) and it's why I volunteer as a clinic defender/escort every Saturday morning.
Without volunteers to escort patients, protesters would chase women to their cars, threaten them with eternal damnation, and find other ways to intimidate, inconvenience, or deceive them into missing their appointments.
The first day I volunteered as an escort was the day after the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting. It was easy for me to feel brave defending abortion rights on Twitter, and I didn’t have to think too hard about signing up for my shift, but that first morning, make no mistake, I was scared. What if something happened? What if I got shot? In the end, I did what I always do: take a deep breath, put on my lipstick, and do the damn thing.
Makeup is emotional armor — so it’s a lot easier to get myself out the door and standing up to 6'4" men screaming at distressed women when I’ve got my Game Face on. Here's how I do it.
To get to the clinic, I ride a bus for an hour and a half. I have to get there by 7:00 a.m. since our protestors arrive at 6:45 a.m., which means leaving my apartment around 5:30 a.m. Can you see where this is going?
There’s no way in hell I’m sacrificing sleep to take a shower and wash my hair in the morning.
Instead, I empty about half a can of dry shampoo onto my head, fluff up my bangs with a little Bumble & Bumble Dryspun ($16), and tuck everything into my scarf. As it’s getting warmer, I’ve been ditching the scarf and putting my hair into the laziest braid crown ever (two braided pigtails pinned back with a bunch of bobby pins).
I don’t have a four-foot-tall sign depicting inaccurately labeled, gory medical waste to hide behind, so there’s no way for me to make my own shade and because of that, sunscreen is a must. I use La Roche Posay’s Ultra Light Fluid ($29.99) on my face. In the summer I’ll start bringing in Neutrogena’s Sheer Stick ($10.99) for my body (especially my tattoos). Bonus: it fits into my back pocket so I can share with the other escorts!
We have a protester named Randall who always tells us we’re going to burn in hell which, given that I’ve been on the coldest, windiest corner in the borough for four hours in the middle of winter, sounds pretty damn nice. Since it’s been so cold, I’ve been using Dr. Jart’s Ceramidin Liquid ($39) under my Glossier Skin Tint ($26). It really feels like it seals up my skin and I don’t notice any of the scaly, flaky skin I used to get under my eyes from four hours of windburn.
Hey, did I mention I’m kind of vain? Even though the only people I’m going to see are fellow escorts, patients on their way inside, and 30+ angry evangelicals who quiz me about how many abortions I’ve had and call me a prostitute, I still have to look cute, you know? (Especially since, recently, our protestors have started wearing GoPros because filming women going into the clinic isn’t invasive or threatening at all, RIGHT?)
We wear neon vests so patients can pick us out quickly and, thankfully, our antis haven’t bought their own yet (at other clinics, they do that to deliberately confuse patients). But, uhhh, the neon green color makes me look perpetually nauseous. To counter that, I buff Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light ($45) around my hairline and across my nose. That Hourglass powder is technically a finishing powder, but it’s too dark on me, so I use it like a bronzer.
This might be just me, but I think nothing says “fuck the patriarchy/respect my bodily autonomy/don’t come near me with your sidewalk ‘counseling’” more than bright red lipstick. I use NARS Velvet Matte lip pencil ($26) in either Dragon Girl or Cruella because they’re super vivid and require no touch-ups. One or the other will probably become the name I use on the street so the antis don’t figure out who I am and flood Dan’s inbox with calls to fire me.
The last thing I do is sleepily smush on a bunch of super clumpy mascara, currently Maybelline Volum' Express The Falsies Flared Mascara ($6.99), while telling myself spider lashes are very avant-garde.
Clinic escorting can be scary. I’ve been threatened with violence from protesters, I’ve had to break up fights between companions and protesters, I’ve been videotaped, and I’ve had vile things said to me.
At the end of the day, it’s not about me, or my sunscreen, or my lipstick. It’s about doing what I need to do to get women into the clinic. The lipstick just helps.