Finding Balance

Why I wear purple lipstick


I’m a makeup addict. That’s not to say I’m great at makeup – because I’m not – but I love walking through Ulta and Sephora, carefully swatching lipstick and eye shadow on the back of my hand, then impulsively making decisions about what to buy.

This is a relatively new phenomenon, although I started my career as a makeup junkie at fourteen. At that time, the “beauty industry” didn’t seem as saturated as it is now – there weren’t any YouTube gurus, or ever-present Instagram feeds, or the #fotd hashtag.

Still, as a teenager just getting into makeup, I didn’t just “test the waters” with a little neutral eyeshadow and Lip Smackers.

Nope. Not me.

Instead, I dove in, headfirst. Even as a sullen teenager with a high school rep to protect, I wanted to experiment with every color, every style.

Sometimes, I back-flopped, with electric blue eye shadow and bright orange lips.

You know the Crayola crayon, “Shocking Pink”? I think I had it, in blush form.

So, my looks weren’t “-Gram” worthy. But I had so, so much fun making them. I even took pictures of my eyelids – bright gold and red as they may have been — on my ye olde tyme point-and-shoot camera, and confidently posted them somewhere online. They probably exist in somewhere in the great history that is the Internet, even all these years later.

Somewhere along the way, though, I lost my taste for electric blue and neon pink, for coral and emerald green. I stopped buying purple glitter. (That last one was probably a good choice – I used to spray my makeup brush with hairspray to get sparkles to stick to my eyelids.)

I lost the spirit of enjoying makeup. Throughout my last two years of college and beyond, I sported one look: black eyeliner, mascara, sensible blush, lip gloss. No more, no less. It was a uniform — and a boring one at that.

So a couple of years ago, when my sisters started getting into makeup and skincare, I avoided their recommendations and “best-of” lists. For one, I was just out of college and more broke than I’d like to admit. But, maybe more important – I’d also lost my creative spark, happy to don my daily face-as-usual.

Somewhere along the line, though, I’d accompanied one of my sisters on a “makeup refueling” stop. Being in that store – too-hot lights aside – brought back all of my teenage-girl memories. I could practically see myself as I once was: kneeling in the nearest makeup aisle at Walgreens or Target, and picking out the craziest colors. There was a time that I once challenged myself to be and look different – a time that had come and gone without me noticing.

I knew something at fourteen that I didn’t as an adult: it is okay to change, and change again. You’re allowed to recreate yourself as much, or as little, as you want – and, in fact, that recreation can make you better. It can make you feel more whole.

So, that day, I bought a purple lipstick – and loved it, of course.

Today, my makeup table is a rainbow-colored reminder to myself — myself at 14, and myself today – that I can be different. I can be different from other women, yes, but most importantly: I can be different than I was yesterday, or tomorrow. I am the only one who can put limits on my capacity to change and grow.

There is no better feeling than purple lipstick.

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