Perhaps one of the perks of my new job is that it has helped me take my physical appearance a little more seriously. Of course that entails waking up a good 90 minutes prior to my earlier wake up time. Not that I like it one bit. But life has suddenly sprung up from various quarters and, like a petulant child, begs for attention. The blinds on my East window assume a life of their own as the sun passes through its translucence and adorns my crumpled bedsheet with strange latticework. 7:30 am. Then on, I operate with so much stealth that would put the SWAT team to shame. In about an hour’s time, the papers are read and put aside, nature’s various calls answered, shower taken (latest jojoba-enriched shower gel experimented with), equal measures of cereals and proteins devoured, leaving me enough time to gauge my mood and decide on the appropriate lip colour. Lipstick? You’d ask. Lipstick! I’d answer. Being a public relations professional is not just making sure you know what to say to whom, when and how but also check that the crease on your pencil pants sits right and the strand of pearls complements the colour of your blush. But most often, it means that you choose the right lip colour. In the induction video that I was shown on my first day at work (an HR initiative that every new recruit painstakingly goes through), red, not the blazing fiery types but the muted one, is given the stamp of approval of being the most appropriate. Thus, I didn’t gasp in surprise when I saw all women on the executive floor of my swag office sporting the same colour. L’Oreal, Chambor, Maybelline or Revlon, the floor was a sea of red pouts on faces of various shapes, ages, sizes and shades.
One morning, I ran into this pretty woman with a great figure (And figures too! Go check her target excel sheet, she’s a number-cruncher. And in sales!) hurrying in. “Fuck, I’m late,” she announced. Though she was wearing only a pair of slacks and a tee, she looked svelte even after making it to work after an hour’s journey in the darned humidity from her home in the suburbs. In no time, she changed into her business suit, pulled her hair back, clipped on a pair of ear studs and, lathered a deep shade of red lipstick on her cute pout. The whole operation took her around four and a half minutes while I stared agape at her agility. Seeing my look of disbelief, she quipped, “Red lipstick, honey, that’s all you need. She was on her seat in the next 90 minutes and before her boss could sound her off, she curved that deep red pout of hers upward and handed him her target list. #Winner!
This experience had made me rummage my drawer in search of that red. I found on old stick that had probably passed its expiry. Braving the risk of infection, I carried it along the next day and applied generous amounts of it on my lips, taking care to smudge it like a fashionista so as to avoid it bleeding all over my chin. “Bravo!” exclaimed pretty-woman-with-great-figure-and-figures. And before I knew it, I was swept away in the sea of red pouts – excited, chattering, noisy and nosy, arrogant and adamant, foolish and often superficial – but, always, upwardly curved, poised to deliver.
Of course, my nature didn’t let me stick to red for long. After about nine days of the red-run, I, tired of it, mustered up all the left-over cash I had and took a trip to the mall. I swooped down to the Inglot store and tried out all the shades of red – from burgundy to crimson to vermilion. I now have a shade for every mood. And no, I haven’t stuck to red but have risked going to further ends of the spectrum like neon orange and fuchsia.
I have never been a lipstick person and have stuck to mostly a dab of gloss or balm for even glitzy parties. However, this new job seems to have changed the scenario a wee bit. Does wearing lipstick increase my self confidence? Not one bit. Does it help me look more attractive? You must be joking. Does it help me ‘blend in’? No since I don’t stick to just red and experiment with shades. Am I following protocol? Gah! But yes, after a hard day’s work, when I’m back home and take off the gooey ink from my lips with a cotton bud and cream, it gives me a sense of satisfaction and I feel relaxed and detached from the office jing-bang. It has helped me create a wall between my private and professional spaces. And trust me, it’s such a relief.