“Lipstick is the most valuable weapon in a woman’s make-up kit. It has the power to transform the appearance and mood of the person wearing it, and, at the same time, arouses the admiration of everybody else.” – Monica Belucci
Far be it from me to buy into the idea that a woman’s outward appearance to the rest of the world is important. The way we choose to present ourselves is an individual thing and you won’t find me suggesting that women have to wear make up, either for themselves or anyone else. I don’t write this for any shallow or materialistic reason.
But, I kind of agree with Monica Belucci’s sentiment. I have a tumultuous relationship with my mental health and one thing that really helps to stop me spiralling is to make the effort to present the version of myself I want the world to see, rather than the version I feel like I am. Anything I can do to bring those two selves closer together, the better. It’s a small thing but one that really helps me, hence wanting to write a little something about it.
Of course, some days it’s not enough, but usually when I can feel the day teetering on the brink of a potential meltdown, a kick ass lipstick can be enough to bring me back to myself. Looking bright and colourful when I feel anything but is often just what’s needed.
You see, there are two versions of me (actually there are way more than that but for the purposes of this post lets just stick with two) there’s Me As I Am and the Me As I Can Be.
This kind of concept was first introduced to me by Scott Belsky in his book Making Ideas Happen, he calls it “The Better You”. Ever since I have thought of myself in these terms; Me and The Better Me. The Better Me is at the top of her game. She doesn’t let fear stand in her way and can walk into a room and assert herself with confidence. She is charming and charismatic, confident and composed. The Better Me isn’t fake. She’s very real and all the things I am capable of being. She’s the voice that says ‘yes I can’.
The Better Me wears bright red lipstick.
I’m a naturally introverted person who happens to be really good at things that require her to be extroverted (brief shout out to my parents for making me a genetic oxymoron.) It is literally my job to stand up in front of crowds of strangers and give talks and presentations – I love it and I’m great at it but continual exposure doesn’t make me an extrovert. I find it immensely rewarding but also exhausting and it requires me to have significant ‘me time’ for solitary pursuits (like blog writing for instance) to recharge my batteries. I often find that in order to get up and do my job I need a little boost to put me in the right mindset.
I don’t have to wear red lipstick to be the Better Me, but I find it far easier to slip into the role when I do. There’s a reason ancient cultures wore warpaint, it’s about empowerment, dominance and fearlessness (and, of course, striking fear into the heart of your enemies). Some days I need a little bit of all of those things!
Red lipstick is my equivalent of warpaint. It makes a statement – it screams “LOOK AT ME!” – and unlike most other make up it’s not designed to cover something up. It’s not about hiding my dark circles or concealing my blemishes, instead it’s a bold declaration of authority. Red lipstick makes me feel emboldened and the confidence it takes to wear it enhances my confidence in myself.