If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve likely discovered, more than once, that it was a “red lipstick kind of day” for me. I pull out my red lipstick when I’m feeling sick and looking pale; when I’m wearing all black; when I’m feeling sexy; and when I’m preparing for battle.
My red lipstick is part of my armor.
It makes sense when you think about it. Oh, make no mistake, when lipstick first started being used, when it was still a concoction of roots and insect eggs in Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, and Cleopatra’s Egypt, it existed for one purpose: to make women more attractive. But let’s face it; there weren’t too many options for a lady trying to assert herself in those days. I mean, unless you were the Queen of Egypt.
Then Elizabeth I began rocking the red vegetable dye against her lead-whitened face, less to attract men than to repel them, vowing (at least outwardly) to remain the virgin queen so she could dedicate herself to ruling and bettering her country. Hear, hear!
Is it any surprise that in the 17th century British Parliament voted that any woman who “tricked” a man into marrying her by using makeup (a.k.a wearing makeup before marriage) could be tried as a witch? Oh, come on, boys…really? Although, if you want to be afraid of red lipstick, far be it for me to put you at ease.
So I’d say that somewhere around that point, red lipstick became a battle cry.
And then came Queen Victoria–feisty and in-charge, but unknown to her, the leader of one of the most repressed yet deviant societies in modern times. In 1837 she banned red lipstick as being only suitable for prostitutes. Le sigh.
My point is that red lipstick seems to have always been something to at once relish, titillate and fear. The woman who wears it? A temptress, a whore, a home-wrecker, a warrior, a queen. It’s hard to say, really.
Then the rebellious flappers swept in, followed by the World War II-era broads who brought home the bacon AND fried it up in a pan so were entitled to wear whatever the hell they wanted.
As for the pale-faced, lipstick-less hippie chicks of the ’60s and ’70s? I’m not even dignifying that with a response. However, let me go on record as saying that one can stand up (or sit in) for peace and STILL have luscious lips. The two are not exclusive.
Luckily, Wonder Woman came to television in the ’70s and from that point on, I knew that all a girl needed for world domination was a little red lipstick and her bullet-proof bracelets.
So, getting back to where I started, today was a red lipstick kind of day. Honestly, it was a red lipstick kind of week! Feeling down, disappointed, angry and feisty, I didn’t feel right walking out the door this morning without a slash of red. And it wasn’t about seducing a mn to get my way or put a male adversary on notice that today was not the day to mess with me; it was about feeling good about being me so that I could put up with whatever happened next. Some men (and women) put on their power suits, some women (and men–you know who you are) suit up with a lacy bra or a sparkly thong, four-inch stilettos or 7 for All Mankind jeans. It’s not about what makes a statement or cows the enemy. It’s all about feeling comfortable in your own skin so you can flawlessly return whatever is thrown your way.
And that’s why, on my worst possible days, no matter what else I’m wearing, I’ve got my red lipstick on. Like I did today.