I Had Pink Eye During Fashion Week

I showed the makeup artist my eye and she gave me the “Oh boy” look.
Publish date:
January 21, 2014
pink eye, NYFW, models, M

The worst thing that could happen to a model is getting hit in the face. The second is getting a giant zit on your nose, and the third is pink eye. Well, dying would suck, but aesthetically those are pretty bad.

Somehow I avoided getting pink eye my entire life up until a few months ago. I’ve had acne that made me look like a monster, but pink eye takes the cake as one of the worst physical ailments I have ever had. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, but I would wish it on my downstairs meth-dealing neighbor who listens to Skrillex at four in the morning. He also snores so loud that it sounds like a fax machine with a paper jam stuck in a lawnmower.

Unrelated -- one time my dad was getting ready to mow our backyard and when he turned on the lawnmower a bunch of blood and fur came out. A possum was apparently living in there. I was eight years old. Scarred for life.

How I attained pink eye is a mystery. The likely answer is probably from the dirty New York City subway and not washing my hands enough. The fun answer is I got it during a photo shoot in Times Square when a guy dressed as the Statue of Liberty touched my hand. I have an irrational fear of the people who dress up as characters in Times Square or on Hollywood Boulevard. They’re always getting arrested for drugs, and last week a guy dressed as Woody from Toy Story was arrested for sexually abusing tourists. Ugh.

The photographer on the shoot I was doing wanted me to pose with the Statue of Liberty guy. The thought of touching him made me want to die. I was already wearing fall clothing in 90-degree weather and had to change outfits in a McDonalds bathroom. Oh, and I wasn’t getting paid because it was a “test” shoot to update my portfolio.

I suppressed my urge to say, “Hell fucking no,” and asked Statue of Liberty guy to not get too close because I have a “thing” with germs. He did not listen and tried his hardest to put his hands on any part of my body. I jumped around and gave my best “I love everything” pose. The dude grabbed my hand and I yanked it away like he was the Outbreak monkey.

All I could think of were the germs being soaked into my body. Remember that scene in Requiem for a Dream where Jared Leto injects heroin and they do that montage thing of the drugs going through his veins? Yeah. Replace heroin with the pink eye virus and that was my brain.

The next day I woke up and went to five castings. It was a week before fashion week so my days were full of runway castings. I love fashion week so much. New York is already my favorite city for people watching, but twice a year the fashion kids really go all out. My castings went well, but that night I couldn’t stop rubbing my eye and thought I had an eyelash stuck in there.

I put in eye drops and tried to find whatever was irritating it but I gave up and figured it would fix itself overnight. WRONG. I woke up with a swollen eye and immediately panicked. The last time this happened I was on the verge of getting sick, and I could not afford that, especially when I was trying to books as many jobs as possible. I put some ice on it, which helped a little, and covered it in concealer.

I tried to hide my eye during castings by covering it with my hair. I squinted the other eye to make them look even during photos. This was a disaster. My eye kept getting worse. I thought I had scratched it and prayed for it to go back to normal by the next day. It got worse.

There was no way I could go to castings looking like the pink eye monster. I went to an urgent care facility instead because I convinced myself I had eye cancer and was going blind. The doctor examined me and concluded it was a pink eye bacterial infection. He was a really attractive doctor, like so attractive I tried to make jokes because I was embarrassed for having pink eye.

“Who gets pink eye? Strippers and third graders?” Homerun, Melissa!

“Well it’s actually more common than you think…” Mr. Literal Doctor replied.

The nurse didn’t laugh either. It was a very awkward 10 seconds. He prescribed me eye drops that would clear up the infection within forty-eight hours. Not the end of the world.

The next night I had a runway show for Front Row Clothing. My eye didn’t show any signs of getting better. I figured they were going to put a ton of makeup on anyway, so it wouldn’t be entirely noticeable. I showed the makeup artist my eye and she gave me the “Oh boy” look.

I apologized and said I wouldn’t be upset if they sent me home. They decided to keep me, and put as much mascara and eyeliner on my monster eye as possible. It helped a little, but I still looked disgusting. I tried to not make eye contact with anyone and hid in the corner looking at my phone. I felt embarrassed and ugly. It was not fun.

The show itself and clothes were really amazing. Usher was there too. It wouldn’t be fashion week without Usher watching my skinny ass walk down a runway with pink eye. Oh, but that wasn’t even the best part! One of the event sponsors was Fancy Feast cat food.

Yes, there was a photo booth set up with the white fluffy fancy feast cat himself. I walked up to the cat and introduced myself, like he was going to reply, “Nice to meet you, Melissa, what the hell is wrong with your eye?” I went home after the show to wash my face and put in more eye drops. Hopefully my eye would be cured by morning.

The next day I woke up and looked in the mirror. I started crying because my other eye was now swollen and they hurt so much. I went back to the doctor and he said I should see an eye specialist because he had no idea what was wrong. By the way, I had to pay $900 for those two 10-minute visits, thanks America!

I was sent to this place called the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary. What is this, the 1800s? What place is still called an “infirmary?” This place couldn’t be described as anything but an infirmary. It was horrible. I was sent in a circle for the first hour because no one who worked there had any idea what was happening. I ended up waiting for three hours in a room that looked like a scene out of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest."

I finally saw an Optometrist who gave me an exam and concluded that I had the pink eye virus instead of the bacteria. There was no medication for it. I just had to wait it out a few weeks. Great.

I didn’t go on castings or really leave my apartment for the next 10 days. I was miserable. On top of everything else, I wasn’t making any money, and had to pay for all these doctor visits, which ended up not helping me at all. Screw you, pink eye.

A guy that I was seeing in New York kept bugging me to hang out. I was avoiding him because I looked like a pink eye monster, but he insisted on hanging out and didn’t care that I looked crazy. Which translates to: “I really want to have sex and will risk getting pink eye because I’m a guy and I’m gross.” Alright, your decision, not mine.

I was also happy to have a conversation with someone in person because I had been a hermit the past week.

I met my guy friend at a bar and within 15 minutes I wanted to leave. There’s nothing I hate more than a guy obsessively looking at his phone while participating in a conversation. I stared at him while he scrolled through Twitter looking at some girl’s profile.

“Who’s that?” I asked annoyingly.

“Some chick my friend is hooking up with,” he said without looking up.

“That’s really fucking interesting, why don’t you send her a DM to hang out?”

“What? Why would I do that?”

“Because apparently a random girl you’ve never met is more important than the actual person sitting in front of you trying to have a real human conversation and interact like how a real actual decent person is supposed to.”

“Sorry.” He puts his phone away.

We talk about random stuff for another few minutes and he gets his phone out of his pocket and looks at Twitter again. I’m pretty sure he didn’t even realize he did this. I stared at him again like Angela staring at Jordan Catalano, trying to understand what is wrong with him.

“I’m gonna go. You’re not paying attention.” I’ve had it.

“What? What’s wrong?” Like he didn’t know.

“You’re on your phone, dummy!” I get up and start to walk away.

He follows me and apologizes and asks if I wanted to eat some pizza and watch TV or something. OK, sure, I can deal with that.

“Can we go to your place? My ex hasn’t moved out yet.”

Ugh. No.

I walked home and stopped at the deli for some Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked ice cream. I’d much rather watch "Breaking Bad" alone than deal with a Twitter-obsessed 28-year-old who still lives with his ex and wants to have sex with a girl who has pink eye.