Have you ever tried using a more neutral color?” my friend, Diane, asked me, as she perused my burgundy lip gloss. I sensed some intrinsic motivation on her question. The fashion gurus were forecasting nude lipstick colors—which promised a more natural look for the wearer.
I cared less about the year’s beauty trends.
“Red is a classic color,” I replied, flashing a crooked smile.
“That’s true. I guess it goes well with your skin tone.”
I shook my head, thinking that Diane had little business intermeddling in my lipstick preference, knew nothing of my makeup routine, for that matter.
In the morning I’ll typically pause a few seconds in front of a mirror to inspect the glossy red smile of the woman looking back at me. And I think that this is the woman I want for others to see—pleasant and self-confident.
“Have you seen Carla’s lips?” Diane asked me, motioning toward a lady sitting in a wheelchair. The lady sat quietly, observing birds gracefully flying about, while others stood on limbs, happily chirping at one another in the bird aviary.
Carla was a new resident in the nursing home. She had already caught the attention of the staff due to one particular fact—Carla wore red lipstick at all times, day and night.
“I know she likes to wear lipstick,” I said as I glanced at Carla.
“No, not that!” Diane countered. “Go and take a closer look.”
I frowned, intrigued. I walked toward Carla.
“Hi Carla!” I exclaimed, and smiled.
Carla turned her head and looked directly at me. She flashed a sparkly smile, outlined by her red, cosmetically coated lips. I noticed the crooked trail of lipstick applied haphazardly on and about her thin and worn lips. Red smears were displayed around the corners of Carla’s mouth.
Notwithstanding, Carla exuded confidence. She was evidently unaware of what others may have considered to be the imperfect application of her lip makeup.
Like me, I surmised that Carla found delight in the ritual of applying red lipstick daily. With one difference—Carla did not use a mirror.
Carla’s arthritis had significantly afflicted her hands. Trying to hold the small lipstick tube with her damaged fingers was enough of a struggle that must have dispensed by necessity the use of a hand mirror. Poor mobility must also have precluded her use of the vanity mirror and, even if she could reach it, her age had stolen her once keen eyesight.
Nonetheless, I learned that Carla was quite pleased in her routine of applying her lipstick.
Perhaps as she did, evoking thoughts of her younger days, I mused.
“Carla, I like your lipstick,” I said, sincerely. I looked beyond the crookedly applied lipstick lines and saw the younger woman I hoped Carla envisioned as she ritually drew the lines across her tender lips.
“Thank you!” Her face lit up. The red hue on her lips seemed to brighten.
“Red lipstick is my favorite too.” Had I not anticipated to find out so much in common with Carla.
From that day forward, I visited Carla daily with a special mission—to help her put her lipstick on. In exchange, she treated me with enjoyable recollections of events from her life. Her reminiscing was so delightful and rich in details that my thought of Carla checking herself in the mirror as I do daily, came to my mind again with clarity.
Fond memories of Carla flooded my mind recently as I was reading a fashion webpage:
“Classic Red Lips. Nothing screams feminine, or sexy like red lips. While there are a lot of new lipstick trends out turning heads right now, the classic red lipstick look has been around forever, but its timeless sophistication has proved itself as a fashion staple now, and probably forever.”*