I have no less than ten shades of red lipstick in my makeup arsenal. My all-time favorite is Lady Danger by MAC. At one point, you could say I was into makeup. I loved going to Sephora or to the MAC counter and play a game with myself (this is such a designer thing), where I’d try and guess the name of each shade of eyeshadow or lipstick, flip it over, and see if I was right (I usually was 😏). I would do people’s faces for important events. I usually wore makeup to work or school. I love old Hollywood, cine de oro, and red lipstick was my signature look.
Eventually, I stopped. First gradually, then suddenly. There was the time where, the president of the agency asked the new female hires to attend a meetup we were sponsoring. He introduced us as, “see, I told you I’d bring some women” to his friend. There were the side-eye ogles that I tried to ignore during meetings. The groping on the metro. The complaint I made that HR recommended I not pursue, because I would probably lose (even though the person was a repeat offender). The one time I gave a visiting group of executives a tour of the studio, and one of them (drunk) tried to kiss me. Thankfully, my colleague stepped in and had my back.
I would be lying if I said that I didn’t take a job at a distributed company partly because of the reduced risk of these things happening. With the reduced pressure to dress up for work, going to and from the yoga studio or gym straight into the second shift at home with young children, red lipstick, and makeup altogether, is something I can forget ever existed. Except it’s also partly choosing a path of isolation.
The last time I wore Lady Danger was in Paris, when I was six months pregnant, and some of us were doing a thing with the LVMH folks. I figured being around folks who work in fashion, in a large group at all times, and being visibly enceinte, would make me less of a target.
I miss dressing up. It makes me feel confident and creative. But I like feeling safe more.