The art of self expression (part two)

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image: polyvore

“I believe that wearing red lipstick is the most feminist statement a woman can make in five seconds flat.”

Why do I wear lipstick? I wear lipstick because I want to jazz up a boring outfit. I wear lipstick because sometimes I have enough time in the morning and can spend more time on my face. I wear lipstick because sometimes I don’t have enough time in the morning but I still like the feel of the painting and filling in the contours and curves of my lips. I wear lipstick because sometimes I want to look hot. I wear lipstick because sometimes I look and feel like shit. I wear lipstick sometimes because I love Marilyn Monroe and sometimes it makes me feel like how she felt when she was filling in the contours of her lips. I wear lipstick because sometimes it looks banging with my outfit, when the shade is exactly right, when its sunny. I wear lipstick because sometimes people compliment me on it and it makes me feel good.

I wear lipstick because sometimes I feel like putting your make-up on in the morning can be like putting on a uniform, and it straightens my mind out, gears me up for the day, makes me walk a little more upright.

I wear lipstick because my mum wears it and because she’s my idol. I wear lipstick because sometimes I’m wearing all black and I want to add a little something, and there is nothing nicer than the deep redness of the lips.

The point for me here is that really, there are so many reasons why I might choose to wear lipstick one day. Sometimes, there is no reason. I just really want to wear it (and I wear it most days).

If I am to be honest, though, there usually is always a reason: choosing to wear lipstick is a form of self-expression that I can, and am willing, to take. The reasons can be as big and small as I want to make them, because that’s what self-expression is. And, yes, sometimes, I wear make-up for other people: I want to express who I am to the external world, and a bright pink or orange lip can sometimes allow for this. Sometimes, I like the compliments I get on my lipstick; the nod of admiration and mutual respect from other women who appreciate my efforts in carving out with a liner the perfect cupid’s bow in the ultimate shade of nude (I like to go for the more earthy excuse for not knowing lipstick shade names, because I never pay attention to them). But other times, I wear it, because I just do. It’s so natural that half the time, I don’t even think about what I’m doing when I’m putting it on: I just am.

This always makes it all the more surprising to me when other people have something to say about my wearing lipstick. I understand that at times, men don’t understand the reasons that women chose to wear lipstick. And why would they? It’s not a choice that they usually have to make. Yes, it is a pain in the arse when you have some guys voicing their own complaint; “why are you wearing that stuff? I don’t even notice when you have it on.” What?! You don’t notice that I’ve literally painted a part of my face? But I did it just for you! What do you mean you don’t notice!

No. If anything, me wearing lipstick is a choice that I make (sometimes, subconsciously) because I want to wear it.

So one thing that I really cannot understand is the women who put other women down for wearing lipstick (or any other form of makeup, for that matter).

The amount of times I’ve had girls saying to me, “you wear so much makeup every day! Doesn’t that take up so much of your time? What do you do when you go on a night out?” Well, Sally, I’ll tell you. I wear make-up when I go on nights out to too. Maybe even a bit more than usual. And yeah, usually it does take some time. Does my “wasted” time make your time feel less valuable? I just can’t imagine trying to comprehend that.

In the last issue of The Saint, I read quite an impassioned viewpoint article that seemed quite angry that people get “dressed up” to “come to the library.” The writer acknowledged that since St. Andrews doesn’t have much of a social scene, people probably do dress up more to come to the library. I can see why, if you weren’t much into that, that would get irritating. But if you aren’t into it, why does it bother you? Is it offensive, maybe, because it speaks more to something about yourself you are sensitive to?

Maybe I’m unfair to come down so hard on people who are against my wearing lipstick. I’ve been shocked, at times, to hear women saying that they don’t wear lipstick because they “don’t have the lips” or “don’t want to be seen trying too hard”: maybe my shock should teach me to be more compassionate about other people’s worries. But for one thing, it does prove that wearing lipstick does mean more than simply a meaningless act, just putting on glasses, or tying your hair up – because it does express something about yourself. A vanity, to some – but to me, its about having a pride: in being artistic, about being creative, about being feminine, about being myself and projecting the way I feel and think to the world and its inhabitants. In the words of the O’Jays: “I look the way I look, because of the way I think.”

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