{npm18: 4.8}

One of the oddly undiscussed side-effects of growing up in a very conservative faith is that I never wore red lipstick, or nail polish, because red was… tacky, basically.

It called for attention. It insinuated. It wasn’t modest and quiet like A Young Lady Should Be.

All that from a color? Yep.

An Auntie I adore always wears brilliant red polish on her very short, squared-off nails, and I remember a less than charitable comment I overheard that her nails looked bitten down to bleeding. I keep short nails (no longer bitten… mostly) and know myself to be prosaic, hardworking, no-frills, no fuss, no nonsense. Not someone unserious who flaunts a red lip or polish, right?

So stupid. One of the worst things about clarifying one’s own beliefs is how often I find other people’s thoughts substituted whole-cloth for thoughts of my own. I grew up never wearing a red lip or a red nail, because that was the next best thing to Jezebel (like we actually even know what that murderous woman wore)… but, that isn’t ever what I thought. If I’m in the right mood, I LIKE red. I like most colors, if they’re in the right shade. (Why else do I have both teal and turquoise shades of tights??)

Last week, Tech Boy brought me a lipstick that’s redder than anything I’ve ever worn (Colourpop Sessy, bc Sessy is what my little brother called me for a long time, and I exclaimed over it whilst watching a makeup tutorial), and I’ve enjoyed painting it on – when I’m not going anywhere. Admittedly, as much as I KNOW red is FINE, I still feel like it makes my lips look HUGE and pouty and …wow, do I look like the whore of Babylon? some adolescent playing dress-up? It infuriates me how much other people’s voices play in my head, so I’m defiantly wearing my lippy now every. single. day. In my house.

Eventually, I’m going to go outside.


old habits die hard,
stumbling down well-traveled roads –
a flash of brightness
dances just beyond our reach
over the next hill, progress

9 Replies to “{npm18: 4.8}”

  1. Clearly this poem (and intro) struck a chord! I’m a no polish, no lipstick girl. Never have been, have no desire ever to be one.

    What cracked me up about this was the selfie you took from practically behind the door, so far away we can’t really see you (but I did enbiggen and you. look. fabulous.)

    1. @MaryLee: I blame it on the fact that I haven’t yet gotten the hang of selfies… but yeah, I feel like the hiding-behind-the-door was pretty emblematic of my feelings on the whole thing!! ☺ Thank you – it still all feels like too much work, but at the same time, at least I’m not avoiding it because of what someone else told me to think.

    1. @Karen: Aw. Thank you.
      Those “certain connotations” are problematic because they’re just… like, conventional wisdom. A thing which is KNOWN but not examined or explained. I grew up with far too many of these unspoken societal mores, and I think this generation manages to unpack them far better than mine did.

      I believe in you, Karen! Get one of those transfer proof lipsticks like mine (Colourpop is all of about $6), and go out and be bold!

  2. Oh, my gosh, you can totally pull it off. Go out! 🙂

    I know just what you mean, though. I grew up in a time when bright reds had “certain connotations” … though I never really understood why. I always just thought some women could pull it off and some couldn’t. And, even though I wore black nail polish when I was in junior high, why did I pause the first time my daughters wanted to wear black polish? Too many certain, or gothy, connotations? And yet, for them, it’s just another fun choice, and in reality, I see it as that, too.

    I quit wearing lipstick years ago, mainly because I’m lazy and also I hated feeling like I looked washed-out when it wore off. But my daughters love to don bright, bold lip colors and they look so beautiful and confident in it. I don’t know that I can pull off red, but sometimes I think it’s time to try *something* again. 🙂

  3. Oh, I hear ya. However, I think that short nails with red have a classic look. I’ve given up on lipstick of any colour because it never stays on…do I talk too much??

    And you’re gorgeous!! Wear that lippy to the market~baby stepping your way to boldness.

  4. Yes, so true. Mostly those “other people’s voices” were my mother’s and aunts’.

    I never wear/wore bright red lipstick, inside or outside. Some can wear it well, but on me it looks wrong — clownish, trampy. As for nail polish, I was always a clear polish or light pearly pink person when I did wear polish (which, in the last decade, was never). I didn’t like the red polish peeling at the edges (with all the manual labor I do with my hands 🙄 ). Flashy I am not. Sigh.

    1. @jama-j: I think that’s what worried me, really – the trampy part. But, then, I had a rethink. We’re so quick to judge on appearances, and I know that I don’t REALLY look like a sex worker (I mean, you couldn’t tell what all those madams in D.C. did by their lipstick and nails, could you? Nope)… so if I like a color (maybe red, maybe metallic blue) and I’m feeling okay with people looking at me (and let’s face it: some days I do NOT), I think I may try it. At least indoors…

      And doesn’t red polish peel so badly!? It is all SO much work, and I never remember to wear gloves when I do dishes!! But, I’m trying to convince myself I’m worth a little extra work, sometimes. ☺

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