What does red lipstick mean to you? I’ve read articles that declare it’s been used since ancient times to denote sexual availability, even promiscuity. I’ve read that women who wear red lipstick are approached more by men and seen as more physically attractive and receptive to advances. There was even an article I read that stated that women who wore red lipstick are perceived as more powerful and authoritative in the work place.
I’ve always wanted to be one of those women who could rock a red lipstick. They seem to embody sexual confidence, power, a distinct comfort level in their own skin that I can’t say I’ve ever truly achieved. Red lipstick for me is a mark of a woman who could care less what you think of her, a woman who owns herself completely.
This past weekend I took a bit of my birthday money, went to the cosmetics store and asked one of the more well made up associates to recommend a shade of red for me. The first was too pinkish, but the second made me pause and blink as I looked in the mirror. The associate assured me as I stared at myself that the color complimented my skin tone and made my eyes “pop”. I didn’t recognize that woman in the mirror, but I wanted to get to know her. I smiled and thanked the associate, wiped the color from my lips and purchased the bottle of lip mousse (no basic stick for this girl).
The next day while getting ready for work I decided, what the heck! No day like today to visit that woman in the mirror and find out a bit more. Now to preface, I’m not a bold makeup person. My usual routine consists of a bit of powder to cover dark circles, blush, chapstick and some mascara. Today, I put on a little eye-shadow and eyeliner in the hopes that it would balance out this bold red lipstick. I felt like a child playing dress up. I applied that lipstick with such concentration and deliberate strokes as I was afraid of making myself resemble Bozo the Clown.
Finally finished, I stepped back from the mirror and again wondered who this woman was staring back at me. The color was so…red. It took a few moments to accept what I saw and admit to myself that I kind of liked it. I found myself looking over my clothes and thinking what would look good with this new face? I picked a favorite dress and cute low heeled shoes. It became like a game. Would this woman wear some fun jewelry? Yes she would! Set for the day, I grabbed my belongings and left to catch my bus downtown.
On the ride there I was convinced people were staring at me and it made me a little uncomfortable. Like somehow they knew. She shouldn’t be wearing that lipstick. Where does she think she’s going? I can see her lips from a mile away! Completely absurd, I’m sure, but it’s all I kept thinking about. I reminded myself of something I’m sure we’ve all heard a time or two, fake it until you make it. So I took a breath and faked myself some self confidence. I got off that bus, standing a little taller and pretending that this look was totally me and I owned it.
As the day went on, I’ll admit that I did come to know this other me. Pretending helped some, but as I went about my business I found it easier to feel that confidence. That translated into how I walked, how I interacted with people. I actually met people’s gaze on the street, something I don’t do. By the time I got home, I felt vibrant. I got ready to meet my boyfriend for dinner and I felt sexy. I didn’t even give a second thought to the fact that I haven’t worked out in weeks or dressed down to shorts and a t-shirt. That red lipped confidence carried me right on through.
I don’t know that it will be an every day thing. I do know that something that seems incredibly simple, made a huge difference in my day, in how I felt about myself. I know that I want to see that woman again, feel her power. Eventually, I want to be able to find her even without that stand out pout.