If you follow my Instagram, you’ve probably kept up with my #30DaysOfLipstick challenge. I finished this week! I decided to do it on a whim, because I’ve always loved lipstick but never really felt cool enough or pretty enough to wear it regularly (see the first post in my Daring Greatly series for more on enough-ness!). A big part of my eating disorder recovery has involved reclaiming my worthiness (or just finding it in the first place) and becoming comfortable with my body again…so I basically said “fuck it” and decided I was going to wear lipstick for 30 days in a row. I think being in a healthier work environment overall also brought back some of my inclination to be creative with my fashion, so when I saw the scarlet lipstick that became my day one look I basically had no choice but to buy it.
This challenge was a challenge for me for two main reasons: the aforementioned confidence issue surrounding my lack of consistent lipstick wear, and some minor selfie-phobia. Most of the time, I’m silly in pictures (or hide behind my animals) because I don’t feel like I’m all that photogenic. I am eternally envious of the girls who know their angles and have the smize down pat, because I just don’t. When I realized on day three that documenting #30DaysOfLipstick meant 30 days of selfies, I was a little intimidated; not just because I had to figure out how to make my face work, but because of the underlying fear that posting more selfies would cause people to label me as “vain” or “shallow” or “self-absorbed.” But again, I said “fuck it” because I wanted to push myself, damn it!
The reactions I got were actually completely opposite: people seemed really psyched that I was doing the challenge, and I got a lot of really positive feedback (especially when I posted some of my crazier colors!). It reminded me how far I get into my own head thinking I “can’t” do something like wear blue lipstick or post a cute selfie because I’m not (something) enough. I feel like I must be doing a pretty good job of surrounding myself with good people because I received so much support over the course of the 30 days I was doing this. Even before I found my own confidence, the people around me projected that confidence for me.
At the risk of sounding suuuuuuuuuuper cliché, I realized that pretty much the only thing preventing me from pulling off blue lipstick, or lavender lipstick, or fluorescent pink lipstick was my own projection of insecurity. I remember being really nervous the day I wore the steel blue lipstick above because I was scared people on the street would look at me like I had either gotten major frostbite, eaten something with navy frosting, or had some horrible, degenerative disease. In a shocking turn of events, this was the color I got the most compliments on! I had multiple coworkers, including my boss, comment on how cool it was and how I could pull of any color, which was a total 180 from my own internal narrative. It feels pretty good to get such a great response on the color you were most nervous about. I definitely felt cool enough to wear lipstick that day.
As I got comfortable playing with new colors, I got a lot more comfortable in front of my camera. I even started taking some of my selfies outside of the apartment where, gasp, people might see me taking a picture of myself! I also became less concerned with whether a color was “too crazy” (when coworkers tell you that you can pull of blue lipstick of all things, it does kind of give you a confidence boost). Lipstick is really fun because you can play with color and style and vibe without making a long-term commitment to changing your appearance. It was fun to wear bright pink one day, then green, then something neutral. Over the course of the 30 days, my lipstick collection grew a lot (I think I had 7ish lipsticks or something at the beginning of the challenge) and I really enjoyed experimenting with different formulas, finishes, and brands.
I really like lipstick. And I’m pissed that my fear of not being (something) enough to do something that makes me feel good about myself kept me from doing it. Who cares if people give me weird looks for wearing a bold color if I like it? Who cares if someone is judgmental because I felt confident enough to post a picture of myself? Who cares if I post two pictures of myself in a row? I like lipstick, so I’m going to wear it! And If I got a really good wing on my eyeliner or accessorized really well, maybe I’ll take a picture (Boyfriend teases me for “documenting everything,” but I’m a visual person! It’s fun to look back on your bad days or unfocused days on fun trips or really good hair days. Also, I don’t need to explain myself at all if I want to take a picture).
It’s funny to think how something as simple as putting color on my lips every day for 30 days could have such a big impact on my confidence levels, but it did. I spend a lot of time making up rules for myself based on my own internalized insecurities and self-judgment. Taking the time to do something I’ve always wanted to do but haven’t felt valid enough to do, and documenting doing it for 30 days, was a pretty cool way to find a piece of “enough” to hold onto. I’m not afraid to wear blue lipstick anymore (or red, or lavender, or fluorescent pink, or green, or orange….), and I feel a little more comfortable in my own skin. I also learned how willing people are to support you when you show a little bit of vulnerability (or, even more daringly, confidence).
Doing this challenge was all kinds of scary (especially when I was having what felt like a bad hair day, or just a bad face day) because we’re taught not to own our beauty or confidence or worthiness for the world to see. But here I am. I am worthy, I freaking love lipstick, and I have some pretty fire selfie skills! I now have over 30 colors to choose from and you can bet that most days I’ll be wearing one. The truth is, I have always been cool enough and pretty enough to wear lipstick. The difference now is that I believe it.