I was a teen when I bought my first lipstick—a classic true blue-red. I remember taking it home, putting it on behind the closed door of my bathroom, and taking stock of my reflection in the mirror. When I was satisfied, I grabbed a wad of toilet paper and wiped it off, watching how the pigment lingered as I scrubbed. The way it clung to my lips was bold, even—I wondered if my mom would be able to tell what I’d been doing.
I finally wore lipstick outside of my bathroom when I was 17. I was anxious and angsty, shy, insecure, and so hopeful. Lipstick was my buffer between all of that. By senior year, it had become a crucial part of my ritual when I had a test, or a big school event: pulled back hair so I couldn’t fidget with it, a 30-minute car ride in which I performed the entirety of Beyoncé’s self-titled album, and lipstick. Black, usually. Or blue or purple or teal, from OCC or Illamasqua or NYX. You had to be confident to wear black lipstick, I thought. It helped.
If you’ve gotten to know me recently you might be surprised about my bold lipstick past—I rarely wear makeup now. But every so often I break out my red lipstick, the first nice one I ever bought. It took me into the next chapter of life—graduation, interviews, heartbreak, and a healthy dose of impostor syndrome. I was nervous to wear it the first time, which is a silly thing to admit, but now it just feels good.
So, here’s what I want to know: when you wake up not feeling so hot, can makeup make you feel a little better? Does a really good lipstick, or eyeliner, or foundation, turn a mountain back into a molehill? Whether it’s armor, or war paint, or the tiny difference between a good mood and a crappy one, let’s discuss in the comments.
Photo via ITG