Participating in #RedMyLips has been a great experience for me because it is a cause that I believe in.
While participating, I realized that Rape Culture has directly affected the way I call attention to (or don’t call attention to) myself. When I was in college, I used to wear red lipstick. I wore it because I enjoyed the way my face looked and the attention I received. That soon changed after an unfortunate relationship that haunted me for years after. I put away the red lipstick and switched to tame colors.
Shortly after I gave birth to my daughter, I decided that in order to “protect” her, I needed to fade even further into the background. I needed to “hide”. I did this by gaining weight, wearing different clothing, and not wearing a lot of make up. I was depressed. I was upset, but I was “safe”. I was safe from people thinking I was a “whore” who was “asking for it”.
After the birth of my son, I found Lularoe. I enjoyed the company and the clothing – it had a dress style, the Amelia, that I felt was very flattering on me, but I continued to shy away from any type of brightly colored make up.
When I found Senegence, I joined because I liked the Caramel Apple. A pretty, neutral color that was perfect for day and evening. But I always had my eye on blu-red. That’s when I heard about #RedMyLips As soon as I heard about it, I decided to go all in. It was a caused I believed in and wanted to help spread awareness to.
I didn’t realize how profoundly it would affect me. I had reasons for wearing red. I was wearing red for a cause. I was wearing red to bring more awareness to sexual violence that happens to men and women every day. I was taking myself back a little at a time.
Participating in #RedMyLips has led me here. It has given the opportunity to build my self confidence and re-evaluate why I haven’t worn my red lipstick in so long. The reason? I thought people would assume that I was sexually promiscuous – a ridiculous idea, but one that seems to be pervasive in our culture. For instance, this quote from Time Magazine
Studies show men perceive women who wear red on dating profiles as both sexier and more open to a sexual encounter.
I didn’t want to appear sexier or more open to a sexual encounter because of my unfortunate ex who used to call me a “used car” and because of men who grab/harass/make lewd comments. Could this be because I wear red lipstick? In my head, yes. But I’m not backing down.
By wearing red lipstick again, I felt like I was visible again and I was both uncomfortable and excited. Red is a power color, and it definitely gave me more confidence. By wearing red lipstick for almost two weeks consistently for #RedMyLips I realized that I enjoy it.. I enjoy the way I look with red lipstick, but more than that, I am ready. I am ready to be visible again. So I will wear red in solidarity with survivors, but, also, to take back my identity a little at a time.