Not so long ago, as much as I admired it on others, I used to be very afraid to wear red lipsticks. Trapped in an extremely unhappy relationship, low-self-confidence plagued me. My self-esteem was literally through the floor and I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. I definitely didn’t want people looking at me.
Discovering My Love For Red Lips
And then I got divorced. My whole life as I knew it changed and I was suddently on my own for the first time in my adult life. I seized the opportunity to reinvent myself and become the me I had always wanted to be. Seeking inspiration, I initially looked to my role models, and noticed a common theme – red lips. It felt like a sign from the universe therefore I had to adopt it red lips for myself.
At the last count, I owned over 50 lipsticks. It’s probably a little more than that now, I just can’t stop buying makeup. It’s the little piece of glamour that I crave within the midst of my hectic, post-divorce world as a full-time single mum. At a guess, I’d estimate that over half of my lipsticks are various shades of red. Red lips make me feel ready for the day, regardless of how I feel inside.
Ordinarily I wear dark clothes, black and grey usually, so the contrast of red lips stands out. It’s my way of standing out. It’s my way of saying ‘don’t mess with me because, I’m ready for whatever life throws my way.’ It’s a statement of confidence that I choose to make.
I won’t lie, red lips are high maintenance. They have to be looked after and checked. But this also helps me to take care of myself. As long-lasting as my trusty Russian Red is, I have to check my appearance regularly to ensure it hasn’t smudged and to make sure that my layer of red protective armour is still in place. Looking after myself makes me feel good. I definitely subscribe to the ‘look good, feel better’ approach because if I feel that I look my best, my insecurities fade and I can focus on other things.
The Power of Red Lips
I’m not the first woman to wear red lipstick or to understand the power of the statement it makes. Red lips are undeniably a bold statement. To me, red lips signify strength and confidence. Red lips draw attention to the face because red lips make you stand out. It’s been said that Cleopatra used crushed beetles to give her lips a rouged appearance, whilst Queen Elizabeth I made red lips fashionable again in the 16th century. Whilst I’m not about to start making my face as pale as possible and bathing in milk, I’m happy to align myself with these incredibly strong women.
I’m told that I’m fortunate that red lips suit me. Personally I’d argue that there is a suitable colour for everybody, they just need to find it. Red makes make me look alive and brightens my face. It draws attention to me meaning I have to smile and interact with people as they look at me. There have been many occasions that I’ve been described as the ‘woman with red lips and big hair’. It’s what makes me memorable.
The great thing about red lipstick is that anyone can buy into it. It’s not a product that is utterly dependent on a having a high-end budget, there are some amazing high-street red lipsticks. My all-time favourite reds are Mac’s Ruby Woo and Russian Red. Not only are these shades iconic but they are the first red lipsticks that I had in my makeup bag. They will always have a place in my makeup bag. Whilst I love these shades, I appreciate that not everyone wishes to spend the best part of £20 on a lipstick, especially when you’re experimenting with red lipstick. This is where brands like MUA and Revolution come is as both make quality drugstore products at extremely purse friendly prices.
Red Lipstick and Feminism
Recently, I keep hearing the idea that I cannot possibly be a feminist because I am interested in ‘frivolities’ such as makeup and jewellery. Obviously this means that because I wear red lipstick, I cannot possibly be interested in equality for women. Or want myself, my daughters and in fact every woman in the world to live a life free from discrimination just because I wear red lipstick.
In fact, is it not discrimination when I’m told that because I wear red lipstick that I can’t possibly be a feminist? My critics have judged me on appearances alone, without even beginning to get to know me or know what I’m about. And whilst I concede that it is almost impossible to not judge appearances simply because it’s the first thing that people see of us, observers shouldn’t pretend to understand my thoughts and feelings simply because of the colours on my face.
Of course I am a feminist, I personally believe all women are, regardless of whether they choose to label themselves in such a way of not. I’ve yet to meet a woman who wasn’t grateful for the increased independence afforded to her by the strength of those before her. Feminism is about choice. We all want equality and the liberties that our predecessors, even our mothers, were not afforded. Choice is important. I want the same choice over my lipstick, as over my reproductive organs and my career. I want to have that choice and will never stop fighting for the right to make my own choices.
Red Lipstick and Men
There is the notion that red lipstick is seen as sexy and reminds us of the Old Hollywood bombshells. Yet, a while ago, I was told that my penchant for bright, red lipstick was intimidating to men. Apparently, I wouldn’t find a man if I continued to wear it as casually as I wore mascara and Converse – which is literally everyday. My response? I laughed. Firstly, because it’s naïve to assume that I dress for the attention of men. I don’t dress to please anyone. I dress to suit me and my tasks for the day, be that teaching a class of children, running around after my own or a rare night out with my friends.
Secondly, the notion that I am single therefore I must be looking for a man, makes me angry. It’s utter tripe. To me there is nothing more infuriating than reducing women to just their relationships with men. Women are guilty of this thinking too. I’m tired of seeing intelligent, educated and successful women bemoaning the lack of men in their life. It’s okay to be alone. It’s okay to want a partner. It’s not okay to define a woman’s whole existence by the man or lack of man in her life.
I am a person in my own right and have no desire to defined by my relationships. Right now, I’m happy being single and spending my time with my friends, family and on my career. One day that may change. But when I do finally decide that I want to meet a partner, am I really going to want one who is scared of red lipstick? They aren’t going to last very long with me if they scare that easily.
Red Lipstick and Me
I love wearing red lipstick. It changes my mood, it makes me feel more like myself and for me, I could never give up wearing it. Nor would I want to. Makeup is fun and encourages us to be creative, but it’s not essential. Wearing makeup is my personal choice and I love it. Red lipstick is a huge part of that for me and I have no doubt at all that it has helped me on the journey to being a more confident and better version of myself. Am I exactly who I want to be yet? No, but at least I can look the part whilst I’m still figuring it all out.
Do you wear red lipstick? What’s your signature colour? Don’t forget to let me know in the comments.