Sometimes I put it on here at my desk (I work from home, by myself.)
Sometimes I put it on before my first mug of coffee (wearing my pink bathrobe, my hair not yet brushed)
I learned this “beauty trick” from my Shalimar-scented grandmother Gloria – the one who was an actress and dancer and popcorn lady at the Somerville movie theatre.
When I was a girl, I would sit at my grandmother’s kitchen table, box of Kleenex next to me, to “mmmwah” lip-kiss marks on. I’d try out her frosted pink shades, the waxy orange-apricot ones (yick), the dramatic glossy starlet-red ones. Always, I’d land on some deep shade of berry pink, as my favorite. My grandmother would agree with my choice, and let me wear the lipstick for as long a time as my visit with her. (In those days, my mom allowed me only to wear clear gloss or Vaseline. And yes, I’m seeing the parenting-pendulum swinging wide in the opposite direction )
Like me, my grandmother put lip stick on all the time, not just when leaving the house.
“I’d look dead without it” I’m remembering her saying.
Lipstick stains on coffee cups and Carlton-brand cigarettes were my grandmother’s signatures, known to all who loved and knew her. Lipstick added to her glamour, her mystery, her could-have-been-movie-star aura, which she maintained even after her stroke, during the years she lived in a nursing homes, and the staff called her “Hollywood”.
I’m beginning to rethink lipstick.
On Sunday, reader & friend Dan D. watched my video diary of The New Blank Page Project, which was posted on Facebook. His comment to me:
“Not sure about the lipstick”
After reading his comment, I re-watched the video. I could see how my lips looked painted on and not painted well. The color was uneven and looked silly, clown-like almost. Seeing myself the way the world saw me, the way people who love and know me do, it made me wonder and question: What do I want them to see when they look at me?
Vibrancy. Human-ness. Passion.
Genuineness. Trustworthy-ness. Beauty.
Kindness. Love. Open-ness. Understanding.
What does the world see when it looks at you? What do you want it to see?
With gratitude to reader & friend Dan D. for inspiring this reflection. Dan and I marched together in the Moorestown high school “standing band” – he played the drums while I played the clarinet. I think we may have dated once (or at least considered it). Dan lived on the same street I did, in a blue house with white trim (I think). His house was closer to Strawbridge Lake than to downtown. I sauntered by it pretty much everyday while walking the family dog, Annie, to the Lake after school. Annie was a rescued black lab/wolf mix (according to my hyperbolic mom who loved her and “her spooky yellow eyes”). Annie used to dumpster-dive at the WaWa (yes, that is really a store in New Jersey : “Mama, I love WaWa!“) during solo (escapee) walks in the opposite direction of Dan’s house. Their cellophane-wrapped bagels with cream cheese were favorites, eaten whole, of course, plastic and all. Annie was a street-smart wolf-dog with a stomach of steel, but that is another story . . ..