When Lipstick Fails You

The smell of hot garlic butter and shrimp traveled from the kitchen to my bedroom. It was a Sunday afternoon and I had just showered. I had just put on a grey cowl neck sweater with darker grey sweatpants. I combed and parted my wet hair, flicking droplets of shower water onto the wood floor. Lately, even when I don’t leave the house, I wear makeup. I tug a stick of brown eyeliner across my eyelid and nudge it into the outer corners, hoping to make my eyes more vibrant and fascinating. My mother tells me that lipstick can fix anything. A swollen face. A sad mood. A challenged complexion. I’ve come to depend on lipstick as if it’s properties are versatile and lifesaving like coconut oil or Vaseline. Cranberry shades are the best for me mentally. I prefer a rosier pink when my body won’t cooperate. Sometimes I don’t believe that lipstick will make me feel better. It can’t be true. How can a tube of berry colored paste have such a clinical result? How can it be a low dose prescription? A therapy? A yoga class? The healing properties are less obvious and disguised, but I’ve seen how it transforms women and I’ve felt the effects the way a pill sheds its skin inside me. With mascara I am more frugal, saving the dark wand for dinner dates or long days at school or my brother’s orchestra concerts when I know my mother will want a picture. I see it as a useful tool, a full proof remedy, only to be exercised on the most terminal of days when my limbs and mind grow agitated. I thought that Sunday afternoon would call for mascara. It’s a distraction. When I feel pretty, when my exterior looks pampered and organized, I expect my mind to follow, but this is hardly the case.

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