In honor of Mother’s Day, to my mom, the queen of putting on lipstick.
As a kid I didn’t understand why my mom put lipstick on before she went into any establishment, including the grocery store. No matter how late we were or what kind of rush we were in, she parked the car, took a pause, and applied her lipstick, like it was an important if it were armor and she was a soldier headed into battle.
Outside of a fancy event or a theatrical production, I didn’t wear lipstick as teenager. I favored Blistex and Carmex, committed to my youthful natural beauty, and, of course, being nothing like my mom. After college in my early twenties, I discovered the flat out fun of wearing lipstick. I did not pass go, but went right for bright red. I bet a lot of you know exactly what I’m talking about. I used a red matte lip liner, implacable, and it was brilliant!
Over the years, I have found that lipstick has become a major love of mine. I love the way it feels, looks, and simmers. I love a bright shade for a night out (remember those), but mostly have a stock of everyday colors that I spend far too much time carefully selecting because they are essentially the exact same color of my lips. It would be easy to think this is a waste of money, but I’m here to stand by mother on lipstick. There’s something about that tiny bit of oomph shimmer that psychologically makes me feel ready to handle anything.
What magic is lipstick?
Maybelline understood that oomph factor women feel and raised the question, “Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline.” Well, for me it’s both! My mother’s mother wore bright orange lipstick that as a kid I thought was the craziest/coolest thing I’d ever seen. It was her favorite color and she was nothing if not committed to a theme. My mother always had lipstick on, and honestly, she always looked great. What choice did I have but to love lipstick?
Nature and nurture combined with lipstick are impossible to fight.
Now, my kids make fun of me for putting on lipstick before I go into a grocery store too, and it reminds me of my mom. Hell, I’ve even been known to apply lipstick before a dentist appointment! True story. In a world where being female sometimes feels like an endless, oppressive obligation to chase vanity, I can’t lie…I like wearing lipstick.
I can’t help but think about lipstick in the time of COVID and what will become of lipstick wearing. How my mask negates people from seeing how my lipstick brightens up my face and gives me that extra bit of glowy mischief in my eyes that I so dearly love to convey to the world. I laughed at myself the other day when I put on my lipstick only to put my mask over it a second later. Why would I do that?
Well, I think my mom was onto something. As silly as it sounds, maybe this seemingly vain ritual of applying lipstick is our little secret. I don’t think it was ever about the lipstick being seen by others, but rather the way it prepares us mentally to face the world. Like the countless tribes through history who understood the importance of war paint, we too choose a color to send a message, pause to apply it while gathering our thoughts, and then whisper quietly to ourselves, “Let’s go kick a little ass.”
Thanks, Mom! For the love of mothers and lipstick…Happy Mother’s Day!
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