Lipstick & Me

I want to be that woman who cares as much about a lipstick’s name as its color. I do. Ok, truth be told, I want to be that woman who actually cares about her lipstick and doesn’t have the same one for a year because she rarely puts it on.

I recently attended a writing workshop, and the person leading asked everyone a question or two. And it wasn’t a small group either, so I admire her desire to know her audience. The woman next to me was wearing lipstick — red lipstick.

“What lipstick are you wearing? I love the color.”

“I’m wearing … ”

And they were off to the lipstick races. Naming colors and makers of lipstick as if they were reciting a memorized Emily Dickinson poem. Reverence. Remembrance. Historically significant.

I sat stunned. I have at any given moment maybe three or four lipsticks. I have no idea about the names of any of them. The only lipstick name I know is Fire and Ice, which I wore in the seventh grade because it was the only lipstick the Seventh Grade Mean Girls Police would allow any of us to wear, so the name is engraved in the fear section of my brain, which is never far away from my present self.

I peeked into my bag and looked at the name of my lipstick. Oh, I forgot to mention that they also knew who made it. I read Bobby Brown Ruby Sugar Lip Gloss.

Bobbi Brown Ruby Sugar Lip Gloss.

Everything that had been hazy became clear.

No one who is me should buy Ruby Sugar Lip Gloss. First of all, sugar is poison, a vice I struggle with every day. Putting it on my lips? What the f — was I thinking? And it’s just another in a series of details that I need to address in my life. Like going through my closet and throwing out every single thing that doesn’t make me feel really good when I’m wearing it. Every single thing.

Second and perhaps more importantly, I need to be a Chanel girl, not a Bobby Brown girl. I’m sixty-one years old for God’s sake. Do I wear miniskirts? But Bobbi Brown is right near the door of Bergdorf, and it’s the first counter I see when I shop there, so it made perfect sense when I bought it.

The details, girlfriends. God is in the lipstick details, I tell you. And if we paid closer attention to those details, instead of spreading ourselves thin, we would be stronger women with a better sense of our lipstick selves.

So I went to do the homework. I Googled “Chanel Lipsticks.” I found Aqualumiere. Yes, it’s true that Aqualumiere isn’t an actual word, but let’s face it — that might perfectly reflect the true me. I’m not sure who, what, or where I am either, so we may be simpatico, Aqualmiere and I.

Then I found a site that actually reviews all things lipstick, and it had some very interesting things to say. Some of Chanel’s lipsticks, for example, are limited editions. Limited editions? Like art? And they really describe the lipsticks. I mean really. For example: “Eau de Rose has a sheer, pink-tinged base with cool-toned, icy, iridescent pink shimmer.” Sheer. Cool-toned. Icy. And so you are described. You and your lipstick.

I am heading to the store today to find my new self. My lipstick for the decade. I vow to spend at least one hour there determining what my new signature self will be. The next time you see me and you ask how I am, I may reply, “I’m sheer and icy wearing my Eau de Rose. Thanks for asking.”

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