Every time I move to a new city, I look forward to incorporating a new change of behaviour or appearance in my life. I have always felt self-conscious of changing and evolving noticeably. When someone says “that’s different for you!” or “you changed _______ about yourself”, I almost feel guilty, like I have an obligation to always be the same. But to new people I meet, my evolution is not a change – it’s just how I am.
A couple of years ago my partner and I moved to a new city. I had been doing a lot of thought and research about being femme at that time (ie. finding all the blogs I could), and I had a strong urge to try wearing bright lipstick but had been very self conscious wearing it. A few weeks into our new life, I made the first of what would become several trips to MAC, where I tried on so many lipsticks and walked away with Lady Danger. I felt giddy and nervous. It’s still my favourite lipstick.
Through extensive Googling I have tried to find other people who feel the same way I do about lipstick. It took so much courage for me to wear bright lipstick. Most blog posts and comments I read were something along the lines of “it’s just lipstick! Have fun with it! Nobody cares!”. To me though, it’s not just lipstick. It’s donning on a new identity. It is making a deliberate choice to wear something so symbolically feminine and yet also brash and noticeable. Nobody wears lipstick by accident, or for health reasons (like lip balm for dry lips). Some natural looking makeup, like soft blush or mascara similar to your hair colour, can be ignored or we can pretend it’s not makeup. But bold lipstick says yes, I am wearing makeup, you can see it right here on my face.
Lipstick is a way for me to lean femme in my appearance even with short hair, even if I am dressed more masculine. It’s noticeable with minimal effort. Nobody ever comments on my eyeliner but I do get comments on my lipstick from time to time. Why is that? I wear a black cat eye nearly every day. It’s subtle but not natural looking, and takes more time and effort than wearing lipstick. But nobody ever says anything about it (which I am much more comfortable with actually, I don’t really like comments on my appearance).
I’ve read comments and stories from people who say wearing a bold lip colour makes them feel confident, but I have to say for me, it’s almost the opposite. I need to already feel confident in order to wear lipstick. Last fall I traveled back to the city I moved from to attend a work related event at which I would be receiving an award. I knew I would be seeing clients and colleagues that I hadn’t seen since my move, and getting a lot of attention, which is not very comfortable for me. I wanted to wear a dark purple lipstick because I knew it would look great with my outfit, but I was so self conscious about wearing such a strong colour in front of people who had never seen me wear lipstick before. [sidenote: I work in a creative field where anything goes, appearance-wise.] On the trip over I spent way too much time thinking about it. In the end I wore it, but blotted my lips so it was a more stained version than full coverage. It still looked great but I knew I had made a compromise.
Lipstick is a fun part of my day. I love picking what colour I’m going to wear, matching it to my outfit and then matching my blush to my lipstick. I’m a lipstick snob – it needs to feel luxurious, high quality (read: expensive), and carefully chosen. I’d rather go without than settle for less. I like taking my time trying on all the lipsticks I can and getting just the right one. It’s not a utility makeup product, like mascara, where I don’t care what brand or how the packaging looks as long as it gets the job done, the cheaper the better. I consider many variables but mostly it has to make me feel womanly, femme, and awesome when I put it on, and it’s just not the same from a cheap plastic tube or a doe foot applicator (I’m looking at you, liquid lipstick trend).
I know I’m not the only one who has a complex relationship with lipstick. Tell me about yours!