When I was in middle school, my mom said “Your dad hates lipstick. In India, it’s something prostitutes wear.” Embarrassed, I went back to the bathroom and dabbed off most of my lipgloss. But I left behind a small pink stain.
When I went to a small techy college, I was mostly surrounded by white cis men. They wore oversized t-shirts, basketball shorts, and sandals with socks – all-day, every-day. It was function over fashion, and anything coded femme was “nonfunctional.” I was one of 5 in 300 people who wore noticeable makeup. I was also read as “nonfunctional” – undervalued, interrupted, and talked down to.
As my resentment grew stronger, my lipstick got darker. It transitioned from rose and mauve to burgundy and blackened plum. Even if I wore no other makeup, sometimes I would paint my lips a crimson red – it was my armor. “Your lipstick is so bright!” my mom said. “Don’t you want a lighter color, something more natural?” I don’t want it natural. As a brown femme, I’m “naturally” objectified, stereotyped, and talked down to every day. I refuse to accept what’s deemed “natural”. I want bold.
Some people wear makeup as a creative outlet, others to boost their confidence, others to experiment. I wear makeup as an armor. I fill in my brows dark, arched, and ending in a fine point. I sharpen my “baby cheeks” and strengthen my jaw. And last of all, I paint my lips in a an unapologetic red. If you’re intimidated, I’ve achieved my goal.
#redLipstick #boldLips #imAslut #intersectionalFeminist #smashThePatriarchy #stopSlutShaming #nastyWomenGetShitDone