“Go put on some lipstick…it’ll make you feel better.” This little piece of sage advice is the one thing that my mother has offered me when I’ve called her sharing some great tragedy (fought with friend, break up with boyfriend, fiance calls off wedding, fired from job, get sick). I know how it sounds when I’ve told people that this is what my mother has offered me to pull me through situations. However, as I look back …it’s really not bad as far as advice goes.
Being a southern girl, makeup is taken quite seriously. I went to college and joined a sorority where it was practically a felony to leave your dorm room without a “painted face.” In fact, it was commonplace to see girls power walking around campus, pony tails swinging, wearing greek letters…all with perfect makeup that would make Miss South Carolina jealous. As a natural blonde (complete with blonde eyelashes & eyebrows) with fair skin, makeup is not a luxury, but a necessity. Without a little mascara and lipstick, I can easily look like the walking dead. I’d love to be that girl who can throw on some jeans and brush her hair before walking out the door. However, that is a dream that will never come true for me. My mother is very aware of my shortcomings.
The first time my mother gave me her “lipstick lecture” I was in college and my boyfriend (I’ll call him Jake, but really his initials are WBB..that no-good #@$%er) broke up with me to date some mousy brunette that wore Birkenstocks and tie dye…sans makeup. I was so depressed that I spent several days locked in my room with five pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream watching Rob Lowe and Demi Moore in About Last Night (it was the early 90′s). When my mother called to see how I was doing, she decided to give me a big dose of tough love. She told me to make the scoundrel regret his decision. My mother further advised me to clean myself up, go for a brisk walk, put on something cute….and “wear some lipstick for Pete’s sake.” I took my mother’s advice. After several days, I got the courage to dress up and “run into” Jake at his place of employment – the Gap. Before entering the Gap, I made sure I had on a lipstick that would show off my tan – a frosted pink called “Showgirl.” I sauntered into the place and said “hello” with an aloofness that would make Angelina Jolie look like a cheerleader with ADHD. I bought a t-shirt before leaving. Later that evening, I got a very unexpected call. Jake said that his co-workers couldn’t imagine why he dumped me to go out with someone else. Jake then said, “You looked really hot! Wanna go with me to see my roommate’s band on Saturday night?”
Hmmmm. I looked at myself in the mirror with my pink frosted lips and savored the moment before I told him, “There’s no way in hell I’d go out with you ever again.” I hung up the phone. I placed the tube of “Showgirl” in a special drawer. Unfortunately, I had cause to retrieve the lipstick only two years later. After Jake, I began dating my college sweetheart. We were engaged during my senior year of college. He broke up with me three months before we were to get married. I cried and cried…then decided after taking a long hot shower and putting on some makeup that I didn’t want anyone who didn’t want me…so forget him. I would survive and did. I spent one memorable night with a group of my girlfriends at a karaoke bar. I smeared on some “Showgirl” and got up on the stage. I confessed to the packed audience (probably while slurring my words) that my fiance broke up with me before singing a truly awful rendition of “I will survive” that inspired every girl to get out on the dancefloor. By the end of the evening, our group of six girls had turned into a group of thirty five women laughing, singing and dancing. I think that every man in the place secretly blamed me for ruining their evening. Oh, well…
Several years later when I was in my late twenties, my best friend from childhood, Nancy, flew from Manhattan to Atlanta to visit me as a last “hurrah” before I set off for law school. Nancy and I had a blast one Saturday afternoon before going out on the town. We decided to sit at the MAC counter at Saks and have a “lip makeover.” Nancy was feeling a bit dangerous and decided to go with a deep burgundy shade called “Carnal.” I liked something a bit lighter and bought a tube of lipstick in a pinkish-red color called “Bombshell.” After buying our lipsticks, we headed out for a night in Buckhead. We had a great time and joked that it was all due to our new lipstick. I celebrated the beginning of my legal career with “Bombshell” and that night I felt like one.
It was in my last year of law school that my mother offered me the same advice that she offered me in college….”Put on some lipstick, it’ll make you feel better!” I was very unsure of myself and my future. I had an interview for a clerkship and I felt that I wasn’t the most qualified candidate. I asked my mother, half-joking, what shade of lipstick I should wear to the interview. My mother responded with utmost seriousness. In a lowered hushed voice, my mother said that I needed , “Red. Blood red. Chanel Red… It invokes confidence.” With only forty-five minutes to spare before my interview, I ran into Dillard’s department store and threw thirty dollars across the counter and blurted out “Give me red! Chanel Red! STAT!” I opened the box and dabbed it on my lips. I inhaled deeply before going into my job interview and exuded the confidence of which my mother promised me would be found in that tube of lipstick. I got the job.
Now, I sit here as the mother of three small boys. I am tired. I don’t have alot of time to spend on looking my best…or so that’s what I’ve been thinking. I go to the gym and eat healthy. I’ve managed to lose some weight and have been wanting to feel and look better. The other day, I took a long look in the mirror. I decided that maybe looking good and feeling good are complementary feelings. If I feel good on the inside, why not try to look my best? So, I resolved this year to put my best “face” forward.
This is what I did just last week. My husband had been out of town on business and was due to arrive back in town Friday night. We had planned to take the kids and go out to dinner. I decided that instead of meeting him in my trusty velour sweatsuit, I’d put forth some effort. I pulled out a great black turtleneck sweater, jeans, and some boots. The shade of lipstick I wore was “Nutmeg”…good for winter. I’ll just say that all of the effort was greatly appreciated. ‘Nuff said.
My dilemma is that I’m not sure what shade I need right now at this time. You see, “Nutmeg” can get a little boring if I wear it too much. I think I need a trip to the MAC counter. I’m feelin’ very “Girl About Town” these days. However, who knows what circumstances will call for “Lady Danger” or “Frou Frou.”
What I do know is that a good lipstick can make you feel better. It may be all in your head, but who cares. It’s a cheap fix and one that’ll add a little color to your face. So go put on some lipstick…it’ll make you feel better!