A Deeper Shade Of Blood

See Red Lipstick really is sexy!

Prompt: Seeing Red

“Wait, not yet,” my mother directed her words to me through pursed lips while her eyes studied every inch of the woman exiting the stall. I wasn’t sure why I had to wait, but I didn’t mind because I wanted to look at this creature so unlike my own mother. She was dressed in a tight black dress with her bosom popping out of the top. The length was cut almost up to her well rounded rear. She stood tall, straight. Elegant. Her gold earrings dangled, jingled, and sparkled when the fluorescent light danced off them. She wore stilettos that I was sure the likes of which my mother’s feet had never graced. I wondered how she walked without stumbling. I watched her pick up the bar of soap and roll it through long fingers tipped with crimson polish. She patted her hands dry with the brown rough paper towels. Then she meticulously applied the brightest, deepest shade of red lipstick I’d ever seen, deeper than a candy apple; more like blood itself. She puckered her lips and kissed them onto another brown towel. Both my eyes and mouth opened wide in utter amazement. My mother pulled me closer.

I proceeded to enter the stall she’d left. “No, wait. Not that one,” my mother warned.


Mama leaned in and whispered in a tone I could barely make out, “You can’t use that one. You might catch a disease.” I had no idea what she meant, but a matronly woman came out of another stall so I went in that one.

I had never seen anyone so sexy in all my thirteen years. I didn’t know women actually looked like that. I had seen pictures of movie stars, but even they weren’t dressed as provocatively.

When we left the restroom I asked my mother what kind of disease she thought the woman was carrying. “The female kind that bad women have.”

“How do you know she’s bad?”

She just shook her head. I wondered if my mother was just secretly jealous of her. After all what did my old fashioned mother know? She wore loafers and polyester elastic waist pants like all the other moms in my community.

“She’s a whore,” my mother gasped. I wondered if a whore was the same thing as a slut because she certainly didn’t look like the women I’d heard my mom tag as sluts. They were usually older women whose lips wrinkled from smoking cigarettes. They wore polyester shorts with painted toe nails. But their bosoms didn’t hang out; they mostly sagged like fallen apples. They were women whose husbands worked the nightshift or were usually too drunk to be aware what was going on in their own houses. I’d heard of a few of them, and they looked nothing like this exotic woman.

“How do you know she’s a whore?” I was almost afraid to say the word out loud. I half expected my mother to backhand me as it slipped from my mouth.

“How could you not notice her red lipstick!” My definition of a whore became a woman who wore red lipstick. I decided right then and there that if whores looked like that, I wanted to be one.

Of course, I wasn’t allowed to wear make up yet. In fact, my old fashioned mother had some idea that you had to be sixteen to even wear lipstick, let alone real make up like blue eye shadow. I practiced applying Mama’s lipstick every chance I got. I puckered and painted my lips that pale pink shade my mother wore. I kissed it off on squares of toilet paper and flushed them down the toilet. Somehow the pink did not have the same affect as red. It was plain, boring, motherly.

Eventually, I was allowed to wear make up. By that time I’d learned that red lipstick did not make a girl a slut. I’d found it wasn’t necessarily the way they dressed either. It was evident in what they did. Not even what we SAW them do but what we HEARD they did. I was told a reputation was something a girl must strive to protect. Still, I wanted to wear red lipstick. And still, I knew I’d better not touch it.

I experimented with lip liners, but felt the look was drawn and forced, fake. I spent my life juggling shades of pinks like fuschia, melon, and frosted rose. I even dared to buy cheeries jubilee but never ventured in public with it on my lips. It was close to red but in a pink hue. I once bought a red lipstick, still more coral than blood red. I wore it once. I even had on a tiny black dress, though I had no boobs to burst out of my dress. Nor could I walk in heels over two inches high. I asked the hubby what he thought, and he said I looked pretty. Then I asked what he thought of my lipstick. He scrunched both his eyes and mouth and said the only words I needed to hear in order for me to wash it off, “I don’t like it.”

Every time I try on lipstick I still feel my mother looking over my shoulder. It seems I’ve stayed mostly with her shades, going maybe a bit more scarlet with raisin berry and then paler and browner with silver sands and mocha freeze. The hubby never commented on any of them. For some reason I never found comfort in the reds.

Once I did veer from my normal shade to something a bit deeper. Hubby didn’t say anything, but the elderly usher at church smiled and commented, “you changed your shade of lipstick.” He didn’t say it was a good or a bad thing. He simply made an observation. I went home and threw it out.

53 thoughts on “A Deeper Shade Of Blood

  1. Funny for my mom it was blue eye shadow. Prostitutes wore BLUE eyeshadow.

    I wear whatever color – both lip stick and shadow – (I don’t often wear shadow any longer) matches what I am wearing. Red clothes get red lipstick. I don’t wear blood red clothes so my lipstick/gloss is just red. If I am wearing pink, I have pink glosses or lipstick to coordinate. Blues have coordinating purple-ish tones of gloss or lipstick. Oranges, well, I have an orange-ish gloss.

    I say wear what makes you feel good. If red isn’t your thing buy a shade that is but with a sassy name. Then you can just smile when you have it on and you think of the sassy name. It can be your “red” without being red.

    And of course the thing that looks the best on EVERYBODY’S lips — a smile!

    Have a fabulous day!

  2. The more subtle shades appeal to me from the male perspective. Because I am a Miami person, the natural no make up (or just a touch) look is also appealing. Red? I never thought slut. I thought “Who taught her? The clowns at the circus?

    • Ha! Don’t wear much make up. However, I do slap a bit on before going out in public because I feel like I look better with it. Hubby likes me just the way I am, so I guess I’m lucky there!

  3. I brought a bright red lipstick when I had blonde hair and you always get attention when you wear it because it really draws attention to your lips. I prefer to draw attention to my eyes but if I went to a black tie event would consider wearing it as a “special occasion”. You should wear the colour that gives you confidence!

    • I suppose with me that would be more natural shades with the darkest being raisinberry….wish I had confidence enough to go red…even for just a day! It would be intersting to go red in public by myself somewhere I don’t know anyone and just see for myself that maybe there is nothing to it!

  4. Wonderful, descriptive post. My mom never wore a lot of make-up, but my two older sisters taught me plenty. When I was young, but old enough to wear make-up, the light shades were all the rave. Then in college and a bit later, the darker shades moved in. For a while I kept up. Now, it’s a rare occasion when any tinted chemical hits the skin on my face. And my high heels went the way of the Good Will bag eons ago. Who needs ’em?

    Comfort, comfort, comfort. Life is too short.

  5. Faaaaaaaabulous post, Suzi!

    And I died laughing at…

    ““How do you know she’s a whore?”

    “How could you not notice her red lipstick!”

    Bwhahahhahahhhahaha! OMG, that’s so funny because being in the cosmetic industry myself, I know that red lipstick makes so many women apprehensive about trying it.

    But, I have to tell you….I LOVE red lipstick. However, if you wear red lipstick the rest of your makeup (eyes and cheeks) should be very soft; making the red lipstick the main feature. And contray to what many women think….there is a red lipstick for EVERY woman. It depends on the undertone and shade.

    Have a great day, Suzi!


  6. Never wore red lips when I was young and now that I am old(er) I still don’t. I read somewhere that as we age–the dreaded AWA of life–our perception of color becomes dull. Hence, all the little old ladies that wear clown make up.

    • Ha, all the old ladies with clown make up…I love the ones who don’t look in ther mirror (or maybe they just can’t see) when they apply and they have lip drawn half way down their chins!

  7. Are you sure we’re not related, Suzi? My mom told us girls something similar when we were little. To this day, I’m not a red lipstick kind of gal — with my fair coloring, I’d surely look like a clown (or a tramp!)

    • Funny how some of our mother’s perceptions stick with us forever, even though we know they’re not true, we never forget they were said! Good thing your mother didn’t stick you with any of them!

  8. I have to laugh! My mother was a showgirl and professional dancer! She probably would have raised the ire of your Mom. Mom was very glamorous, but very chaste actually. But her blond locks and high heels and full make up were enough to give her a “bad” reputation with some of the neighbor ladies.

    • I can only imagine the things that my mother would have said about a professional dancer!!!!! Isn’t it silly how things others don’t understand give innocents bad reputations?! Your mother sounds quite interesting, bet she had some REALLY good stories to pass on. I look forward to you telling some of them!

  9. I’m fairly sure my mother would’ve had the same reaction. I do wear makeup although apparently it’s faultlessly subtle – I’ve recently added a pink eye shadow and one of my students gaped at me today, cried “you’re wearing make-up!!” and then after a moments thought, looked again and declared “cool!”. It made me feel quite old.

    • I hate it when kids make me feel “old”! It’s difficult to stay with the trends…much easier to just be natural…fortunately natural seems to be the altest trend!

  10. Wonderful tale, Suzi.

    I’ve never worn lipstick or nail polish or foundation.
    I don’t like how any of them feel.

    I use brush on blush, unless I’m tan when I go “au naturelle.”

    • Having been a cosmetologist, I was highly into make up at one time. I have since given up the career and make up to an extent. I still have a complex about my freckles and seldom go in public without foundation – it is my only must have in the make up department, even a good mineral powder will suffice! I still can’t get it out of my head when my dad’s friend said I looked like a cow lifted his tail and splattered my face!

  11. Red was the only color lipstick my mom wore. I remember the Avon lady leaving those little sample tubes and I would play with them, but she always bought the same red color. It was the only make up she ever wore when I was growing up.

    We must have lived a sequestered life. I don’t remember my mom mentioning anything about how someone else looked. I also don’t remember anyone looking different.

    Now, I can’t even wear lipstick. Just the feel of it makes me wipe it right back up.

    • I love the look of make up…I’m just too lazy to bother with it, besides I usually don’t go out much anyway. I love that your mom was not judgmental…I think we get a lot of hangups from the things passed down to us!

    • I just knew of all people, YOU would get a kick out of that….I can’t believe I admitted that…of course, I was only thirteen and didn’t know what a whore was!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. I came from a lipstick-wearing family. My mother wore it, and I wore it most of my life. In these last few years, having retired to be my hubby’s caregiver, I wear it only when I go out shopping or to church or wherever. I prefer very light pink or peach. Red was a color I saw often on women in my family. There was show-business influence in the background on my mother’s side. This may account for the red. They were very straight laced ladies. Yet they looked good in red, I thought. When I put on red, it just wasn’t me. (My hubby likes light pink or none. His family looked on red lipstick like your mother did, so it’s not unheard of to make such an association, although mistaken, of course, from my point of view.) Blessings to you, Suzi…

  13. I don’t remember my mom owning a tube of lipstick…maybe some Avon samples, but I don’t think I ever saw her wear it when I was growing up. It seems like she might have submitted to a facial at a Mary Kay party later in her life, and was pleased at how she looked wearing “color.”

    • Funny when people have “made me up” I either felt like a clown (tto much make up) or felt like I didn’t have any on (they didn’t blend my freckles!) Guess we each learn best what we like.

  14. Funny post! It’s never a good sign when someone comments on a change (without saying it looks good.) I can barely keep from laughing when it happens to me!

    I stick to lighter lipstick shades because I’m too lazy to maintain the color. I’ve never had a yearning to wear red. Some of the darker ones I’ve tried wore off except around the outside and it just looked funny.

    The blue eye shadow made me chuckle. I remember wearing blue eye shadow when I was in high school. I overheard my grandma telling my mom to “make her wash it off because it looks like someone punched her in the eye.” I made sure to wear it darker when I visited grandma 😉

    • Our poor Grammas, how we loved to torment them! About a week ago I saw an older woman with massive blue eyeshadow….It was so overwhelming I did a double take!

  15. Oh the head trash that sticks with us! Your story made me laugh because it was surely played out in ladies rooms all over the country in front of young, impressionable girls. I can’t do bright red lips because of my skin tone…but red shoes…that’s a completely different story. Every woman should have at least one pair of sassy, red shoes. But let’s please outlaw bright blue eye shadow.

  16. Love the post and commentary! 🙂 My mom thought I was a slut when I wore short skirts much less make up! Now I only wear raisin lipstick and erase under my eyes or else I have dark circles. How ever I use Mary Kay 3in one cleanser and don’t think I look that bad without foundation or blush. And I never wear short skirts. My Mother did leave me with a lot of head trash didn’t she?

    • I think all our mothers do…probably a good thing I didn’t have daughter to pass it on to! And by the lip shades I’m sure you can tell I’ve used Mary Kay most of my life!

  17. I LOVE “if whores looked like that, I wanted to be one;” too funny! Not since my teens, in the grunge era of the 90’s, have I been much of a make-up wearer. I’m fond of being very natural (or I’m too lazy to bother). But I can wear heels like nobody’s business. When I was teaching high school my kids used to crack jokes to me about being able to full on run in my high, high ‘hooker heels.’ They were fun, if sometimes painful.

    I wish more ‘good’ girls (women, etc.) felt comfortable about feeling and looking sexy. Whether that means high heels, red lippie, a push-up bra, or the perfect little black dress. It’s good to embrace the sexy every so often!

  18. I applaud every women who has the interest and confidence to wear what ever they feel like w/ no thought of others opinions which are most likely based on their own hangups…..Let your hair down and wear blue eyeshadow , scarlet red lipstick and two coats of” Im really not a waitress” red nail polish… all at the same time.. if you want to… just be yourself.. I saw a woman at our salon who did the other day and she must have been seventy years old… I think thats pretty cool that she still feels young enough on the inside to be daring on the outside and to still want to feel beautiful…because she really was..and left us all smiling and laughing at the her wit and her young spirit…she was an inspiration to live every minute and have fun doing it.

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