I'm a soprano. More than that, I'm a coloratura soprano.
Some of you may not be aware of singer stereotypes. Let me just tell you right off the bat that lipstick is part of the soprano aura. It comes with the territory.
You can tell the sopranos who mean business by the perfection of their lipstick. The right color, the flawless application. It's an intimidation factor at auditions.
I'm not a girl who loves makeup. It looks so pretty when done well, but most of the time I just cannot summon the effort to do more than apply some eyeshadow, liquid eyeliner, and mascara and walk myself out the door.
(I put similarly little effort into my hair. That's a different post.)
Last November, when we did Phantom, we spent so much time in hair and epic amounts of stage makeup that all I wanted was to go to work without wearing anything on my face. Alas for me.
I've learned to wear lipstick as part of my performance persona. It looks good on stage, it pops. And it makes me look more professional. So it's an acquired habit. I feel incomplete if I walk into a performance or audition setting without lipstick. Like part of the picture is missing.
Sometimes I wear lipstick at work. I go through phases; I'm definitely in a lipstick phase right now. I like my lips neutral, but sometimes I just want to dress up my outfits a little more. Add a little extra color.
A sweet friend of mine wears really pretty lipstick, and I recently asked her where she got it. She told me, and it's SO cheap and of such excellent quality that I bought two shades. One is this deep cranberry color; the other is a hot pink. Virtually everything I wear could go with either one of these two colors.
The cranberry color is almost too dark. Almost. The first day I wore it, I also had on an outfit of all black, and I was concerned that between my black blouse, black slacks, black pumps, and deep berry-colored lipstick, I looked a little goth. I had to ask a couple of coworkers how it looked (and my best friend, from afar, through Snapchat). The response was positive, even if I was a little shocked every time I looked in the mirror.
Last week, on Wednesday, I wore my favorite black slacks and a purple-pink top. This top. Is so hard to describe. I don't know that I've ever encountered anything like it. It's basically a sleeveless sweater. It's made of sweater material, and it has a high neckline -- in fact, it comes all the way up to my neck. But it has no sleeves; the wearer's arms and shoulders are bare. That's the main reason I like this top: I'm proud of my arms and shoulders, and this shirt shows them off to good effect. The cranberry lipstick pairs with this odd sleeveless sweater really well, so I wore them together.
Amy, my service captain at work, paid me a compliment on my shirt. "I like that top," she mused. "I'd never be brave enough to buy it, but I like it."
A bell went off in my head.
Clear and icy, like silver.
Later she made a comment about my lipstick. My dark lipstick, which makes my eyes look bluer and my teeth whiter. It's like wearing wine on my lips. She said that the lipstick was another thing she wouldn't be brave enough to buy.
The thing is, y'all, I almost wasn't brave enough to buy the shirt. I didn't think it would look good on me.
I remember when Mama saw it (not on me, but just out of the bag), she thought it looked cute. I was never very sure. I had bought this sleeveless sweater top thing on a whim, on a passing idea, thinking that it might look good under a blazer. For several months, I didn't think it flattered me, so it hid in my closet, between two shirts I wear more often. I almost forgot it was there.
And the lipstick. I almost didn't wear it. I almost took it off and wore some other color. The other, hot pink lipstick, while brighter, does not feel as bold as this deep cranberry shade.
Maybe it works because I'm blonde. I don't know. But I do know that part of the reason it works is because I had the courage to put it on.
To see it and not back down from the intensity of the lipstick. Of the color of my shirt, or its different style.
To not back down from feeling too much. From feeling too conspicuous.
Conspicuous. What a word. What a thing I have been trying to avoid.
Shrinking down and saying, Please don't notice me. Please don't point at me and laugh. Please don't mock me.
We are terrified of being too much, so we hide.
We are terrified of being wrong, so -- same thing.
Please -- please don't see me.
Because we are positive that if we are seen, really seen, we will be too much. That everyone will run away.
That people can't handle the intensity of who we are.
But really, what I've found is that when we are convinced that we are too, too much, that's when people are looking at us and saying, with their hearts full of wistfulness -- they are saying, You are brave.
And they are wishing they were brave, too.
That's what I've often felt when I look at other people.
Other people's bold makeup choices inspire my own.
And as trivial as it may seem to talk about makeup when it comes to adventure -- the truth is that there is no part of our lives that is not turned over to Adventurousness when the longing for it has truly taken root.
There is nothing secular anymore. There is only Sacred. And even your choice of lipstick, or jewelry, or shoes, or car, or whatever -- it all matters.
All. Of. It.
I'm telling you the truth.
I have looked at the lipstick colors other girls are wearing and thought, You are brave.
And I have wished to God I was that brave.
Why are we wishing?
We are already brave.
What prevents me from being brave? From wearing the lipstick? From Doing the Thing? From being all the things that I want to be?
Jesus has already declared us enough. Declared us brave and free and hopeful.
Why are we wishing?
It is already in our hands.
It is part of who we are.
It is breathed into us by God.
I read this weekend that when Jesus appeared to the disciples after His resurrection, He breathed on them. Said, "Receive the Holy Spirit."
God has risen from the dead, and He has breathed on us, and we are not the same as we were before.
We are brave.
He has breathed courage into our veins, along with oxygen and hope and fairy dust.
And hope is in our lungs and we are no longer afraid.
Fear has died. It died on a cross about two thousand years ago.
Fear not is a serious directive. To be taken very solemnly and very merrily all at the same time.
Why are we wishing?
Brave is who we are.
We aren't all brave in the same way. Your bravery may not look like lipstick. But I will tell you that every time I put this lipstick on, two things happen. First of all, I feel a little bit more like a badass. Second, I am always glad. Always always always.
It's a special brand of courage.
Brave is who we are. We own it, and fear is dead.