You know how some people wear lipstick almost every day? I didn't even know what a
"stick of the lip" was until this week when I decided to wear "lipstick"
for one full day of my life. "But Claire," you cry, "you're so edgy and
cool by not wearing lipstick and giving in to 'societal pressure to
conform to Western beauty standards'!". And the truth is, I also cry. A lot. Almost every
day. I respond "Yeah well maybe some of us can wear lipstick just for
the sake of wearing lipstick, and not to conform to any societal notions
of beauty. But what do I know; I've never worn a lipstick before today."
So, the day started out like any other day, opening my eyes to discover I had lived through the night. After twenty minutes of inner turmoil, I forced my freshly semi-conscious body out of bed and into the shower. During my routine shower ruminations, I remembered that today was the day I was going to wear lipstick. Heck, was I ever nervous. Would the lipstick change me? Who will post-lipstick Claire become? Was pre-lipstick Claire just a sham?
After my shower, as I was getting dressed I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. What are lips? I picked up my overpriced grown-up face crayon and imitated what I had seen so many powerful and make-up wearing characters from TV and film do so many times before. Hands trembling, I delicately smeared the waxy substance over my mouth. I took a second glance at myself in the mirror; who's that mysterious stranger staring back? Somehow, just adding some color to my lips and literally nothing else to the rest of my face transformed me from a girl without lipstick to a girl with lipstick. Before leaving for a full day of classes and fun, I winked at my reflection. The mirror blushed.
I noticed as I was walking to and from classes that people stopped to compliment my lipstick. People I only kind of knew were stopping to tell me how nice I looked that day. Usually I hate my smile, because why should I smile when life is endless torment? But the more people were "digging my look", as the kids say, the more I felt inclined to reciprocate the feeling known as "happiness". As someone who doesn't normally wear makeup, it felt really nice to hear that I looked good. I started off the day so scared, and yet for a moment in time, I felt confident, poised, a true Jackie O.
After lunch, things started to get a little weird. People threw flowers, they chanted my name, I shook hands with the Pope. It's funny because I really don't remember the Pope being in Oberlin, but the fact of the matter is, he really liked my lipstick. In class, the professor was so enamored with my freshly sticked lips that she gave me an A+ right then and there. I sauntered confidently past the president of the school, Marvin, and he just handed me a diploma right in the middle of the sidewalk. He even used school funding to create the Oberlin College Department of Cosmetology, putting me in charge of the entire operation. Handsome men in finely tailored suits kept asking me out to dinner all because I had fancy lips.
Though all this attention was flattering, I needed a quiet place to study and ,frankly, escape. As I walked into the library, I wasn't expecting the paparazzi but there they were anyway. They swarmed around me like bees that were swarming around whatever bees swarm around, their cameras dangerously close to my beautiful lips. "Back! Back!" I shouted. The librarian shushed me. "Back. Back." I whispered. The librarian gave me a thumbs up. I threw a textbook at the paparazzi and bolted up to the fourth floor; no one goes to the fourth floor.
I ran to the bathroom and found myself blissfully alone. How could I have known that my lipstick would start an international riot? How could I have known that there was no going back to before lipstick? How could I have been such a naive fool to believe that I could be the same person with and without lipstick? God what have I done. I try and wipe the lipstick off of my mouth but it doesn't come off. It is relentless, persistent. Hard as I try it sticks and sticks to my lips, living up to its cursed name. I will live with the consequences the rest of my life; my lips will be forever stained.
Exiting the bathroom and the library force me back into a world of never-ending compliments and constant adoration. Why? My lips are just a different color now; that's all that's changed. The cameras flash and the people cheer; all senses are numb, save one. I can only feel my lips burning red.