From the distant past to the present, with fingers and felt-tipped pens, metallic powders and gel pots, humans have been drawn to lining their eyes. The aesthetic trademark of figures ranging from Nefertiti to Amy Winehouse, eyeliner is one of our most enduring cosmetic tools; ancient royals and Gen Z beauty influencers alike would attest to its uniquely transformative power. It is undeniably fun—yet it is also far from frivolous.
[A] deep dive ... Admirable in the breadth and depth of its research, and edifying in presenting groups like the Wodaabe tribe in Chad and Iranian women ... Hankir's personal investment in this sophomore book is tangible, and helps to bring the reader along. Eyeliner is at its best when the author infuses the cultural history with her personal history as a British Lebanese wearer of eyeliner who has spent considerable time perfecting its application ... Engaging profiles ... How should the reader understand the larger story about communicating our identities and desires? How do they reconcile the paradoxical quality of makeup — the way it's simultaneously subversive and mainstream, capitalist and collectivist? Having guided us through an impressive, rigorously researched, winding path through centuries and over continents, Hankir ultimately leaves it up to us to decide what we do with the wealth of knowledge gathered along the way.
Hankir focuses on celebrating the role of eyeliner in non-Western history and culture rather than providing a more balanced look at its impact on beauty standards and gender roles. Still, readers interested in beauty culture will be fascinated by this accessible examination of such a versatile and popular beauty product.