How lipstick helps me embrace my favorite feature

My lips are my favorite feature, but they weren’t always.

When I was little, I used to be ashamed of my thick lips. I had bigger lips than all of my friends, and they seemed to swallow my small face. Boys began to tease me about them in 3rd grade, and it made me feel less than pretty. But in time, I learned that these lips were a part of me — part of my heritage and background as a black African woman. As I grew older, I started to embrace them, and saw the beauty in their lusciousness. I began wearing makeup after I got my hair cut very short, even though I had never used makeup before — suddenly I found that I wanted to play around with it, and use it as an everyday accessory. I ended up loving it even more than I thought I would, and lipstick and lipglosses were my favorite go-to item.

I come from a long line of lipstick queens. My grandmother’s favorite was always a light pink from Estee Lauder. My mother is a fan of Revlon’s primrose colored lipstick. I have recently fallen in love with all of L’Oreal’s fire-engine reds.

Accentuating my lips was the first thing I tried, and the easiest concept for me to grasp when I started wearing makeup. It was then that I realized I had the perfect lips to rock my favorite colors, and I could go bold and crazy, demure and muted, or stylish and elegant, all depending on the color of lipstick I wore. It was the red bow (literally) on top of the present, the first thing to draw people in when they first looked at me. Now, when people looked at my lips, I felt proud instead of self-conscious. Whether I’m rocking a bold red with a fancy party dress or a tinted pink with sweatpants for a grocery store run, I always feel more put together with my lipstick on.

With a quick swipe of color, I feel transformed. I use my lips to pout, smile, laugh, kiss, and talk, so why shouldn’t I be proud of them? When I wear red lipstick I feel strong, and most like myself. With pink lips, I feel kissable and sweet, and made for my partner, who loves and adores me, and I him. With purple lips, I’m unstoppable, free to yell my opinions and passions. With orange lips, I feel calm, and am most likely re-reading Harry Potter novels and baking on a lazy Sunday. With blue lips, I hold secrets in, and I’m in the best mood for writing my feelings instead. With my nude lips, I am the most vulnerable, taking on the day openly and inviting anyone who wants to listen to the words I speak.

In the words of my favorite beauty guru, Dita Von Teese, “You should teach yourself to do one thing that makes you feel good that only takes five minutes to get out of the house.” The one thing I have taught myself, and taught myself how to do well, is applying lipstick. I may not always choose the right shade for my skin tone, I may forget to check and reapply my lipstick from time to time, but one thing is for sure: because lipstick has helped me love myself, I’ll love lipstick forever.

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