I Love Lipstick

Truth to tell, that lipstick survey — the one that says lipstick is, well, over — has been bumming me out. I love the stuff. But this wasn’t always the case. When I was a little girl in the ’80s watching my mother slather bright pinks across her cheeks and perky blues over her lids, I hassled her. “Moo-o-o-oom,” I’d whine, “I like your face the way it is.” But she didn’t leave the house without putting her face on first. I carried my staunch anti-makeup stance almost entirely through high school, only breaking down occasionally for a little goth-inspired black eyeliner and mascara. Makeup was part of “The Man.” It was the enemy, keeping women down and stuff, by convincing them they’d never be good or pretty enough without another bottle of goopy stuff.

Then I got married.I didn’t kowtow to the misogynistic hurricane of the mainstream media’s howling — I wanted pretty pictures of my pretty wedding in a theater. My bridesmaid, Lynn, is a beauty maven. Since we were in college together, her perfectly painted face and coiffed hair has stopped elderly women and tattooed ladies alike in the street. She always looks classy and gorgeous, and since moving to the alt-style capital, New Orleans, she’s only become more regal. When Lynn agreed to do my makeup in the green room on my big day, I knew no lack of sleep, jitters, or nerves were gonna keep me down. I was gonna be pretty, dammit.

We went together to the MAC store, where she hobnobbed with the excellent counter girl while I sat passively in my chair. They negotiated and painted and drew over my face from the bottles and bottles spread over the counter, and I left with an enormous bag stuffed with sparkling goods. My day came, I was pretty, the pictures are wonderful, and then it was over. But my medicine cabinet was full of mysterious products. Finally, I was drawn to their power, and I tinkered and experimented. It was fun.

My face became a palette. Who cares about natural glow when you can make yourself look like the siren next to Humphrey Bogart? I can go to lounge on the beach feeling like a mermaid, or out for the evening channeling Joan Holloway, or ride a bike during the day feeling like spring. I love it. I don’t want lip gloss anymore. It feels too insubstantial compared to all the choices and possibilities that lipstick offers. I love it. It’s cheap, it’s a rainbow, it’s beautiful.

You can pry it from my cold, dead hands, style overlords.

Tags: beauty, lipstick, mac