Red Lipstick

Gwen Stefani for InStyle (2011) photo shoot by Michelangelo Di B

Red lipstick has historically been associated with sex, power, and courage. Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor made red lips sultry while Madonna and Gwen Stefani made them edgy.

Despite having impulsively purchased red lipstick over the years, the lonely tubes usually sat in my bathroom closet collecting dust until I rediscovered them years later and sadly threw them out (remembering that the shelf life for most lipsticks is typically two years). And the reasons for not wearing it were usually: “I have no special occasions coming up,” “who the hell do I think I am?” “I live in the suburbs, for god’s sake.”

Yet here we are, nine days into 2014. And at the age of 36, one of my [easy] resolutions has been to wear red lipstick to work every day.

It was a challenge at first.

As I drove to work, I wondered if people in the car next to me would stare. Or confuse me for fashion icon Iris Apfel (whose look I secretly love).

The first day I wore red lipstick to work—Nars Scarlett Empress (go big or go home)—one of my coworkers said, “Oh wow, you look so pretty.” I had done nothing regarding my appearance that day other than wear the lipstick. On the second day, I noticed that people treated me a little differently…a little better, in fact.

Red lipstick is like good posture: it elevates you and commands respect and attention. It’s authentic and creative. It tells people that you have a secret (hint: it’s confidence) and that if they hang around you long enough, it might rub off on them. (Figuratively or literally.)

I know what you might be thinking: ‘That’s great, but red lipstick just isn’t my thing.’ It wasn’t mine either. I am a closet hippie with fantasies of naming my unborn children Lake and Stone (sorry, Mom). But as my yoga teacher Annie said in class last night during an extremely difficult pose, “WHY are you doing this? Because it’s not expected, that’s why.”

Give it a try if for no other reason than it’s a way of showing up a little brighter and bolder.

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