In the 9th grade I asked my mom if I could start wearing makeup. Some girls had started wearing mascara and I was jealous. I wanted a painted face, too.
Because my mom rocked at momhood, she came up with a plan to satisfy me without letting my youth be cast aside...I got to pick out my very own Mary Kay lipstick from her catalog. My mom's Mary Kay lady was the 8th grade home-economics teacher in our town. I was told I could pick out any shade I wanted and we would call my former teacher to make an order.
Dusty Rose was the winner. A soft - yet bright enough for my still evolving personality - pink.
I remember when my mom gave me my very own black bullet of Dusty Rose. I had waited so very eagerly for the order to arrive and when it did, it symbolized something very meaningful to me - I was a woman. I could paint my lips pink.
And that I would do. Every morning at the back of the bus stop where I would hide until it was time to climb onto the school bus. I thought the kids at the bus stop were dumb, so I would stay in the back by the bike racks until it was time to go. I would pull my Dusty Rose out of my backpack, proof that my mom loved me and I was indeed a fabulous 13 year old lady, and smoosh it all over my lips in a clown-like fashion.
My lipstick made me happy.
It still does.
One of the saddest parts of coming to Africa was that I left most of my makeup at home. (Go ahead and judge me, haha). I chopped off my hair, switched to wearing glasses, and only brought the "essentials" of my collection. This has made me feel a bit.....dowdy.
So, when my sister asked what I want for Christmas this year I went online to see what lipstick would make me feel better. A few weeks later, my co-worker returned from her Christmas holiday in the States with my sister's package...Mac Red Lipstick. (thanks, Jennifer!)
Wearing this vibrant orange-red on my lips just makes me feel better. It's like I'm looking at the troubles around me and saying, "I still care enough to bring my best, most colorful self." Last week when I returned home to find that my water tank had run dry, I went to my cabinet, pulled out my lipstick, painted my lips and sat on my couch and sulked. A few hours later, I took off my lipstick and went to bed. It's a long-standing habit of painting my lips as a mechanism for "making up" for a negative feeling or experience. It's ironic and humorous.
I in no way think a woman should paint her face. Instead, I find that it is one of the benefits of being a woman - I can choose to manipulate my natural looks as a form of expression. Even if that expression is, "I haven't showered in 5 days, here are my hot pink lips."
A few days ago I found the connection between 13 year old Jessica applying Dusty Rose at the bus stop and 29 year old Jessica applying Mac Red in rural Rwanda. Some habits don't go away as we age or change. I'm dealing with African struggles the best I can...and sometimes the best I can means putting on lipstick and sitting alone.
Bring it on, Africa difficulties...I've got my best, brightest, most long-standing ammunition.
|no shower, no problem.|
walk slow. xoxo.