Why My Lipstick Color Doesn't Concern You

Wednesday, January 18, 2017
I love makeup. Growing up I would always break into my mom’s makeup drawer in her bathroom and experiment with all of her products. In the 3rd grade, my teachers were in uproar because I wore purple eye shadow to school, which was deemed not to be appropriate for my age, but it probably didn’t help that it was paired with a shirt that was bejeweled with the word rebel on the front.  

I have always been captivated by the artistic qualities of makeup, the magic of instantly expelled insecurity, the ability of a physical alteration to incite an internal transformation. Makeup is limitless and I am bound to it.

As a kid, makeup was the symbol of adulthood. As a teenager, it was a way for an insecure highschooler to cover up acne and the subsequent acne scars. As an adult, it has become a form of expression. It is now a way to empower the idea of beauty; it gives the person who is holding the brush a sense of control in a world where we are powerless. We do not get to choose the standard. There is no open discussion about what is beautiful and what is not and there is no world meeting that helps us to reach a consensus. Of course there are ideas of beauty, but makeup allows it to take whatever shape you want it to. I can express every little detail of who I am through how my makeup looks. I can do it, too, through the deliberate decision not to wear it.

And this is why my lipstick color doesn’t concern you.

Holding a ridiculous amount of weight on everyone’s individual appearance has shamed people into thinking that there are beauty parameters that they cannot challenge. On many occasions, I’ve had someone comment on my choice to wear blue, purple, or black lipstick. An observer will say, Whoa! That looks good on you, but I could never wear that color. If I am received this way, I always reply that anyone can wear any color they feel confident in. This particular statement saddens me that someone is genuinely interested in my obviously unconventional color choice, but for some reason feels like they can’t participate. I didn’t wake up one day thinking that painting my lips dark purple brought out my cheekbones, I just decided that I liked the shade and wore it. No one gave me permission. If you enjoy the idea of wearing fun colored lipsticks that don’t fall into the red or pink color spectrum, then you should consider yourself someone who is allowed to do it.

There are no rules, though for some reason people have attempted to create limitations like the countless men who have felt like it was their civic duty to tell me which lipstick shade looks better on me. If I am not being thoroughly questioned about why my lips are blue even before they have asked my name, I am being told that I am prettier wearing pink. After being assured that it is a compliment, I usually am so gosh darn flattered that a man has so graciously helped me decide how to look better for other men that I have sworn that I from now on will only wear color-approved shades hand-selected by a committee of men who I am desperately trying to seek approval from.

My lipstick color doesn’t concern you, because I am always beautiful. If I really am, I will be still if I my lipstick is red or black. If I really am beautiful, I will be with a full face of makeup, or when I roll out of bed in the morning with my hair matted to the top of my head and the impression of the wrinkled sheets across my face. And if I am beautiful, it won’t be your decision anyway. I am beautiful because I feel beautiful and I feel that way in every shade.

I will always be the 3rd grader with the heavy-handed purple eye shadow and the glittering rebel shirt rummaging through my mother’s makeup drawer. Only now I am wearing Kat Von D liquid lipstick in Echo, a dark blue that is borderline black, not caring about if you think it makes me look less beautiful because I’m wearing it for me. And tomorrow, maybe I’ll wear pink and maybe I won’t.

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