We’re just about ready to leave for drop off. When we are about to walk out the door, I suddenly remember that I’m going to be seen in public and might want to consider my appearance. I run back to my bathroom for a lipstick. My husband groans or mutters something under his breath. My daughter follows me back to the bathroom and wants to know if she can wear lipstick, too. My son follows me back and says “Mom, why do you always have to put on lipstick when we go to school? Its not like were going to a party or something.”
He has a point. But then, so do I.
I don’t always wear lipstick. I am the polar opposite of one of those women who never lets her husband see her without her trademark slick of red.(I sometimes leave the house in such a disheveled state I am shocked by my own reflection.) But I do appreciate the value of a good swipe. My daughter is desperate to wear lipstick and begs for it at least three times a week. I tell her lipstick is not for little girls. Lipstick is for ladies. Lady isn’t a word I generally identify with. But when I twist up that tube and cover my mouth with a blanket of magenta or crimson or shiny pearl, I feel a connection to the generations of ladies past. I see my mother dressing for a night out, digging into her Clinique Bonus booty for A Different Something. I see my grandmother in that impossibly saturated shade smack in the middle of pink and coral with the consistency of a glue stick. I see Lisa Fonssagrives and Marilyn and Madonna in iconic red. And I feel like all of them, if only for 10 seconds in a 1 x 3 inch area of my face.
I’m not even sure I look better in lipstick than without it—I think women’s natural lip color is often the most flattering. But sometimes looking your best isn’t about what looks best on you, but how what you’re wearing makes you feel.