Over the weekend, my parents and I had a small argument about red lipstick and its place in the workplace. I had taken a picture that I thought looked very professional because I was going to make a linked in. When my dad saw it, he told me I could not put that as my profile picture. I was hurt and angry, but I could not for the life of me figure out why. I ended up taking an equally good picture (I did end up wearing red lipstick, but only a light layer on my lips) and put that up instead
After I finished taking care of my profile, I started to work through why I was upset. I didn’t even have to talk it out, the answer was so obvious. AP Psychology told me I was caught in a classic case of cognitive dissonance; I was being told one thing when I believed the complete opposite was true. I see commercials and movies of successful women wearing red lipstick effortlessly and Taylor Swift, the sitting queen of pop culture, has probably twenty shades of the stuff in her purse at all times.
I’m seeing all these women get ahead while wearing red lipstick, only to be told that I am wrong, that red lipstick is to be saved for going out with friends or on a date. This upsets me, because red lipstick has always been a sign of a confident woman. A woman who can be bold, who can be herself. It is one thing to say no jeans in the office and whole other thing to say no red lipstick. For generations, all the way back to the world wars, red lipstick has been a symbol of pride in country, in work, and, most importantly, female empowerment.
Ah. Hopefully you see where I am going with this. Red lipstick is a symbol of female power. Red lipstick has no place in a professional environment. Knowing what I know about the work place and women working in general, it isn’t too great of a leap to say that female power has no place in a professional environment. A sad yet unsurprising conclusion. Coco Chanel, it seems, can popularize it, Taylor Swift can endorse it, yet I still cannot wear it.
When I conceded against my parents, I felt like I had betrayed the values I had held myself to my whole life. If I let that one small argument be won, what else would I allow myself to concede to? I want to say it was just this once, that my parents know best. But still I worry that when I sat for the picture with muted lips not only did I have a softer shade on my lips but also a meeker spirit in my heart.