Beauty comes with a price. So I’ve now learned. I have thin lips. That’s right, I said it. When all of the girls were putting on ten pounds of red lipstick and leaving kisses all over the bathroom mirrors in high school, I was applying Carmex to mine and leaving the restroom post haste. My best friend at the time was one of those perfect girls. The preppy kind that could make a paper bag look stunning and never had a single twinge of body-consciousness. I on the other hand, wore giant legged Jinco jeans, baggy black t-shirts with some metal band’s logo across it or another and black, steel-toed combat boots. There was a figure under there somewhere, but nobody would ever have guessed it, just the way I had intended. Whenever she and I were together after school she would smear my lips with some bold color and force me to kiss the mirrors, windows, etc. and then proceed to make fun of what she dubbed, my turtle lips. I always thought it was funny and never took any offense to it. After all, I can clearly see that my lips are almost virtually invisible. Now that the full, pouty, just got stuck in a pool drain lips are on trend, along with the unexplainable appeal of bushy eyebrows, I feel even more out of touch. I don’t have full eyebrows either, in case that needs to be said.
This weekend, a friend of mine and I took our two teenage daughters to a very large and completely overwhelming make-up store, after the girls decided it was time for shopping. It also should be said that both myself and my friend absolutely loathe shopping, but because these little chicks cannot yet drive (a gift and a curse), we are summoned to take them out on whatever shopping spree they desire to go on. I never wear make-up. I wasn’t allowed to even wear it for play as a young girl and by the time I grew up, I had no idea how to apply it properly and just never bothered learning. My friend however could be a make-up artist if she ever decided to go after that dream of hers and can make the most stunning looks on anyone’s face magically appear. Wearing colors I wouldn’t even think to put on and make them look flawless.
As I was slowly walking through this make-up mega store while the girls were off in their own corners trying on everything that caught their eyes, I noticed a lip stick that’s slogan was something along the lines of “Tingles and plumps for luscious lips.” For a minute I stood there staring at the vast array of colors while remembering how often lipstick winds up on my teeth because of these thin lips which lack volume. I thought maybe for once, someone out there understood the plight of us girls with zero pout and decided to make a lipstick just for us. One that would at least put us in the game against these duck-lipped faces plastered across every avenue of social media. I walked timidly up to the line of tester lip glosses and reluctantly decided to give one a try. Doting it on what I could make out was the top and bottom lip, I felt a little tingly sensation and thought “Wow it must be working!” Now this is where things went awry. That light tingle, moments later turned into a full-fledged burn only similar to what I imagine tazering myself in the mouth would possibly feel like. My lips were cold, tingling and burning. A few years ago I had applied Aspercream to my aching back and by accident touched my face before remembering to wash my hands, it felt exactly the same as that. At this point I thought surely the burning sensation would subside and I would look in the mirror to see the gorgeously pouty smackers I’ve always longed to have. As we were all talking to one of the Cosmetologists on staff while she recited the days sales they had going on, I mentioned that the lip gloss I had just put on minutes before was now burning in the back of my throat. Each breath felt like I was inhaling an Altoid mint. The flash of me going into anaphylactic shock with my throat closing up on the store room floor played before my eyes. As I mentioned this to the saleswoman she responded to my dilemma with a, “Hmm. That’s weird. It usually only makes my lips feel a little cool and then stops,” and went back to her sales pitch. It was comforting.
I causally went to one of their mirrors, grabbed a tissue sprayed with alcohol and started furiously wiping the lip gloss off. It was stuck to my lips like glue, which was making the tissue then stick to my lips. I must have went through at least four tissues and still could not get this stuff completely off of me. I did however notice that my little turtle lips were now a tad bit fuller and told myself that beauty always comes with a price. I also know that beauty is supposed to come from within, but I don’t think it comes from within the throat… My friend came walking around the corner with the prettiest lipstick I had ever seen, on and encouraging me to try on the same brand of the color purple. Which I did, just for the hell of it. My lips now numb from the previous brand, I knew the only reason this lipstick was staying in place was because I had a surface of this glue-like burning concoction already on. At first I looked in horror at the very bold color that I believed along with my silver and purple dreads would make me look like a muppet and then after a minute or so, warmed up to it. With the Oooo’s and Aaaah’s coming from the girls I thought maybe this was a good color for me and I was just not used to seeing such contrast on my face. After looking at the price for one single tube of lipstick that admittedly would have probably lasted me for a lifetime, I decided against being a trend-setter and went back to the mirror and tissue stand to scrub it off. Part of it still stuck to the previous lip gloss, I walked away with pouty, purple stained lips that resembled having just been punched in the mouth. That lasted for about thirty minutes. Beauty not only came with a price, but it also was incredibly short-lived.
I woke up this morning laughing to myself about it and of course as I do, started thinking philosophically. My experience of this lip gloss was different from the saleswoman’s experience with it. For her it was a simple coolness and not bothersome. Which I could have lived with. Because she had not had the same result as I did, she couldn’t understand how uncomfortable it was for me. She was unaffected by it and not at all concerned. How many times in my life have I had situations that others haven’t understood and sat in a state of shock at their indifference to my testimony of discomfort, not understanding how they could care so little? Too many times to count, in my case. Everything in this life is subjective to our own understanding and perception. If it doesn’t or hasn’t happened to us, we tend to disregard it, or discredit others as being dramatic in some way simply because we don’t share in the same experience. I wasn’t mad at the saleswoman, I realized she had never had this result so she couldn’t understand what I was feeling. It wasn’t a big deal and not really worthy of over-analyzing after the fact, but it just made me think — Giving me a different perspective on how everything in this life works. It’s funny the lessons we can pick up from such small and insignificant events as this. In that right, we can truly take wisdom from anything and everything we face in our daily lives if we just pay close enough attention to do so.
On the flip side, I think I’ll leave my experience of burning lips and throat to the lip gloss makers and STDs and just learn to love my quite un-luscious turtle-like lips as they are, for now. We all have our own crosses to bare, right? 🙂