mad in pursuit journal


Red Lipstick

Red lipstick is powerful.

Without red lipstick, I am pale and shy. I lack courage. I drift. I'm invisible.

Is there anything worse than being invisible? Sure, you might think invisibility is a super-power, but trust me, it gets old.

Red lipstick is about reinventing yourself. Read Marie Brenner's Great Dames: What I Learned from Older Women. Imperfect women with trouble-plagued lives – Jackie Kennedy, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Pamela Harriman – knew how to put on their red lipstick and high heels and take ownership of themselves, reinventing their lives as often as needed to prevent the world from ever seeing them as whiney or weak or defeated -- or invisible.

Red lipstick is about reinventing yourself.

During the white-pink lipstick years of my adolescence, I made fun of my mother's reliance on ruby red whenever she left the house. But, about the time my first marriage broke up, I discovered that red lipstick protected me from people turning away to whisper. It demanded that I be seen and it made being seen less scary.

I know that "keeping up appearances" has its dark side. Showing your vulnerability is supposed to be a modern virtue. But let's say you go to work one day and get suddenly relieved of a highly visible duty you'd been nurturing along for 10 years or so. Everyone saw it coming but you. Everyone is clucking about it behind your back. And let's say the next day you have to go to a big meeting, where everyone who betrayed you will be avoiding your eyes and forcing you into invisibility. Are you going to walk into that meeting with puffy eyes and bad hair to show them how mean they've been to you?

Hell no! Dig those stilettos out from the back of the closet and find that dress that shows you have hips. Brush your hair and put on that red lipstick. You are SOMEBODY. Smile.



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Murrah pointed me toward the Imagining Ourselves site, where women can look at the stories or videos of others, then post their own. I was inspired by Jessica Lagunas' video about applying lipstick: "Para besarte y acariciarte mejor." My essay was accepted as an Add-On story.