Beauty, Body
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In Defense of Dark Lipstick (And Other Apparent Mid-Life No-Nos)

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I stumbled across an article this morning that said women in their 40s shouldn’t wear dark or dramatic lipstick because the color can get trapped in fine lines around the lips, making them look older. I felt a flare of rebellion at the idea. In fact, right now I am wearing a deep burgundy lip stain because, well, that’ll show ‘em.

Yet I chose the lip color I’m wearing because it’s a lip stain rather than a lipstick, and is therefore far less likely to bleed into those little cracks that I do, indeed, now have around my mouth.. I found myself looking online for tips to prevent my lipstick from bleeding (which is apparently a rather complicated process involving foundation and cotton swabs dipped in powder), because I don’t want to highlight my age with a bad makeup choice. It’s a delicate balance for a woman of a certain age.

I don’t care how many charming articles I see declaring that “40 is the new 30.” It’s bullshit. For me, 45 isn’t graceful midlife. By the time I get my seven-year-old daughter to sleep at night, I collapse like I’ve finished a marathon. By 8:30pm — when I used to just be leaving the house to go out for the night – I am stick-a-fork-in-me done.

Physically, I haven’t enjoyed getting older. Not one bit. The last ten years have been hard as hell, and I am feeling every single one of those years down to the bones. I have wrinkles, I have arthritis in my knees, and I am so damn tired at the end of every day. Let’s not even discuss the fact that I can no longer read anything in dim light and have to wear reading glasses whenever I wear my contact lenses.

Of course, there is so much overwhelming good that comes with being “aged” like a good cheese. (I’d say wine, but I’m a recovering alcoholic.) I know who I am and I no longer feel I have something to prove to other people, and I no longer feel any need to apologize for things that I once believed made me “uncool.” I can freely announce that I love crappy vampire fiction and mediocre television shows. There’s no need to force myself to see every brilliant art film made; I don’t always want to see dark movies that make me question the role of humanity. Sometimes, I just want to watch shit blow up.

I like myself — and my life — more now than at any other point in my history. This is critically important, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything the world.

So for now, I’m accommodating my age while I continue to battle it. I’m treating my knees with care, I’m working to lose weight and be healthy, and I make sure I get plenty of sleep and eat well. I bit the bullet and bought higher quality makeup because my older skin doesn’t cope well with the drugstore stuff any more. I celebrate my twenty-year happy marriage, and I take good care of my mother.

My grandmother wore her age with pride. She got her hair done weekly and never once considered covering her gray.  And she never wore dark lipstick.

Not me. I flamboyantly dye my hair (currently, it’s a lovely ombre pink – yes, pink!), I still wear my beloved liquid eyeliner, and I will continue to wear my dark lipstick with pride.

I’m not ready for the crone phase. I’m not sure I’ll ever be.

Filed under: Beauty, Body

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Cecily Kellogg

Cecily Kellogg is a writer and is well known for sharing what is likely too much information on the internet. She also writes about the intersection of family, women, technology, and social media for Babble/Disney Interactive as well as runs her own web content and social media consulting business, Double Good Media.

6 Comments

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  3. SeanaDase says

    You take good care of your mother? You bitched the whole time that she was with you & had her leave because it was too hard to watch t.v. or have sex with her in the house.
    The last person I’m taking makeup advice from is someone who photoshops herself into someone else.

  4. Jenna Briand
    Jenna B says

    Great piece!  You reminded me of how my grandmother, RIP, wore bright red lipstick every day til the day she died. She was a sassy 4’11” babe, and I think it’s awesome way to own the “aged.”

  5. AdriannaDufay says

    I only wear dark lipstick; I’ve done it all my life. Like you, I started wearing “stains” instead of dark matte colors, just because they feel like they’re a little less aging, but I can’t imagine not wearing something totally obvious and loud. 

    I do believe there’s a special place in this world for the “advanced maternal age” mother. (I’m one myself.) You’re so frickin’ tired all the time and your kid is just a little spaz! When my dad was my age, I was 22 already and we were drinking in bars together. 

    Anyhoo, I’m right there with you. Red, red lips!

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