sharp cat’s eye
Writer and comedian Ziwe’s late-night talk show, “Ziwe,” premiered its second season, on Showtime, this year. Ziwe shot to fame with the success of “Baited with Ziwe,” a low-budget YouTube series that debuted in 2017, in which she interviewed non-black guests about their knowledge of race and politics. On the show and its subsequent Instagram Live iteration, the host asked guests how many black friends they had and asked them about the life of Malcolm X; the responses were often zany, partly because of their frankness and partly because his guests seemed eager to prove they understood their privilege and were open to criticism. Ziwe’s new show takes the same format and revamps it with higher production values and better-known characters (Emily Ratajkowski, Charlamagne tha God). The result is a little less loaded, and a little more wacky. As a host, Ziwe likes to wear an exaggerated cat’s eye in purple, green or pink eyeliner, which, along with the powder blue tweed jackets, pink furs and crystal necklaces she favors, is reminiscent of a Joan millennium. Rivers.
The everyday cat’s eye
At one point this summer, while walking over to a friend’s house for a drink, I saw a young woman in shorts and a T-shirt sitting on a park bench with her head buried in a book. What caught my eye was her makeup — she had a bold, dramatic cat eye that flared out beyond the edge of her brows in thick, statement lines. Next thing I knew, my Peloton instructor wore a cat’s eye while I growled during her Pilates class, and another mom at my child’s daycare wore one during afternoon pickup. One evening while strolling down the Lower East Side, I counted not one but four pairs of cat eyes on the street. Those cat eyes seemed less to reference glossy 1960s beauty standards (think Brigitte Bardot or Audrey Hepburn) and more to draw a “Keep Out” sign on your face. They were often worn against bare skin, without lipstick. I guess all this emphasis on the eyes was partly a response to wearing masks throughout the pandemic, but it was also a reminder of how makeup standards have changed. Foundation became increasingly unpopular. Makeup is less about perfection and more about expressing individuality or a sense of playfulness. (Just consider those literal cat-shaped cat eyes, on rock band the Linda Lindas.) On TikTok and Instagram, I’ve observed countless tutorials and memes featuring the cat’s eye or one of its many variants, from the mermaid’s eye to the inverted cat. eye. My favorite was the one in which the voice from the Mortal Kombat games whispers, “KITANA WIN. FLAWLESS VICTORY,” followed by a sharp, blade-like sound.