On red lips & falling out of love with my body

Being brave with make up is an odd one. When I originally started thinking about this post, I was intending to say that it’s perverse how, the more at ease I am in my own skin, the more tame my make up. But it’s not perverse; it’s complicated.

In my teens my skin was greasy, but even then, I escaped lightly compared to many of my schoolmates. My mum bought me a few Rimmel bits when I was ten and the fashion for Body Shop parties meant that make up quickly became part of my daily routine. Foundation, mascara, lipstick – we were allowed to wear it at school in those days, too.

I never felt I mastered make up, and I never experimented with it that much, but I liked playing with it, and I was interested in it, in a way I never was with clothes. Glitter gels, iridescent powder shadow (thanks, Miss Selfridge!), stick on hearts. It was tacky, and joyful, as fuck.

In recent years, the frequency with which I’ve worn make up has dropped dramatically. I rarely wear any at work, and the contents of my day-to-day make up bag (listed below), is pricey, but play-it-safe in the extreme.

Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Foundation
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder
Benefit Roller Lash Mascara
Clarins Multibush
Tom Ford Lips & Boys Lipstick in Eric

It worries me that I’ve stopped wearing make up. Not necessarily because I think I ‘need’ it, although it does make me feel more confident, but because every day I get up too late to put any on, every day I go to work with wet hair and bare skin, I’m reminded of the following statement on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale:

‘I have lost interest in my appearance.’

The scale requires you to rank how much each statement applies to you between 0-3, and I’m never quite sure what to do with that one, because although I do wear less make up and spend less time getting ready, I still buy new clothes, I still read a couple of beauty bloggers, I still spend money on new products. And that’s both a good thing and a bad thing.

It’s bad because increasingly, I buy make up in the same way some people buy bags and shoes – because I’ve put on a stone and a half in four years, I’m uncomfortable in my body, I feel fat, and buying clothes is miserable. Make up always fits, but it’s also an excuse to not take a long, hard look at myself and the way I really feel about my body. It’s an excuse not to change.

But there’s a flip side, too. I already feel conspicuous, because of the disability, because of the weight – and so, for the first time in my life, I’m not afraid to choose cosmetics that will make me stand out. In the past couple of years, I’ve bought three *bright* red lip products – MAC Red, MAC Sweet Sakura and, this week, Lipstick Queen’s Seven Sins gloss in Anger. 

The name is not a coincidence. I am angry, mostly with myself. But on my lips, that anger is transformed into something vital, something kickass. One of the saddest conversations I had with a friend of mine – who is beautiful – was about lipstick.

‘I’d never wear red,’ she said. ‘I just want to blend in. I don’t want to be noticed.’

It’s her choice, obviously, but it’s not what I want for myself. I’m not convinced red lipstick suits me, or is flattering, but I also don’t care. I’ve been reading Ella Risbridger’s wonderful lipstick columns for The Pooland she talks often about liking shades of lipstick that might not suit her. And I think she’s right – it’s psychological, as much as anything else. It’s colour, in a world of beige.

Red is anger. It’s also love, passion, fire, heat. It’s brave and it’s unapologetic.

And right now, it’s what I need.

Advertisements

L (The Make Up Artist) + **Competition**

It’s almost the same shade as the lipstick rolling around the bottom of my handbag, but I want it, for the 1920s-style case as much as the name.

She comes over while I’m testing it on the back of my hand. ‘Do you want to see what it looks like on?’

I’m a sucker for other people doing my make up – I’ve never mastered the art of getting that polished look on my own. And she is, without a doubt, polished. Around her neck, a cursive L hangs from a delicate gold chain and her hair is a mass of carefully styled honey waves, but these softnesses are offset by her outfit, which is head to toe black, from her hot pants to her leather apron.

I’m inelegant and clumsy next to her, not helped by having to clamber onto what is essentially a bar stool. She swipes her brush through the colour and leans in close. I twitch, too strung out with life in general to stay as still as she wants me, and she giggles.

She outlines my lips in pencil and maybe it’s that that makes me feel like a blank canvas, like i could reinvent myself here, in Selfridges’ packed Beauty Hall. It’s noisy, hot, and bright, but I’m totally captivated by her. Her lips are ruby red, the kind of colour I dream of being able to pull off as my everyday look. She applies it straight from the stick, she says, and I girl crush a little harder on this rough-and-ready round the edges admission.

It’s strange, having someone focus so hard on your mouth when they’re not kissing you. She fills in between the lines, stepping back occasionally to appraise her handiwork. If I spent this long on my own make up, I’d never get to work.

‘I can’t get the pigment to even out,’ she says, as she continues to sweep colour over my lips. ‘It’s weird.’

Uneven, chaotic – this has been my mental state for months and I want to laugh at the fact that this gorgeous girl can’t make me look calm and sophisticated, no matter how hard she tries. Eventually, the frustration gets the better of her and she drops her brush onto the counter and swipes her finger roughly over my lips.

‘Ah,’ she says, ‘That’s better!’

Even before she hands me the mirror, I know I’m a sure thing. It’s no longer just the packaging and the name. It’s the sense that here, at 11.45 on a Saturday morning, I might have fallen a little bit in love. I pay, and she hands me the bag before turning her attention to the next girl looking for something pretty. Before I walk away, I linger for a moment by the testers and wonder what shade her lipstick was.

Love bite. That’ll be it.

*****

I joked to @Juniper3Glasgow this morning that I’d crushed on so many gorgeous women this week that I was thinking of giving up men for Lent. I think my love of cock will probably win out, but it did get me thinking that Lent is a great prompt for some flash erotica. And what better way to elicit flash erotica than to have a mini competition?

As I said on Twitter, the prize probably won’t be huge. And because at the moment I’m all about pick-and-mix selections of cute stuff, it’ll also be a surprise. And you’ll get the glory of winning, obviously. Plus, because Lent lasts for-bloody-ever, it’s a super generous deadline.

The Rules…

(1) Your story must be a piece of erotica on the theme of Giving Something Up. The more creative, the better.
(2) The post must (obviously) be your own work.
(3) There is no minimum length for posts, but they must be no longer than 1000 words.
(4) You must post the piece on your own blog and link back to this post in order for your entry to be counted.
(5) The competition closes at 23.59 GMT on Thursday, April 2nd. Any entries submitted after this point will not be considered.
(6) You consent to me linking to your post in a list of all the entries once the competition has closed.
(7) Should you win, you are happy to share your mailing address with me for the purpose of sending your prize.

If I’ve missed anything, or you have questions, please let me know…

Charlie xx

The Lion, the Witch and her Wardrobe

At the very beginning of #NaBloPoMo, I asked you guys what you wanted me to write about, and Kristina Lloyd came back to me and asked if I’d write about clothes and make up.

I’m not a big believer in gifs in blog posts (and this isn’t a gif anyway), but this was the first thing that came to mind:

I’m kidding, of course. I don’t *actually* think Kristina wants me to blog about those things because she doesn’t think I’m up to sex blogging yet (at least, I *hope* that’s not what she thinks!), rather I think it came from the fascinating conversation we had over on Facebook about Liz Earle’s Hot Cloth Cleanser (which we’d both highly recommend.) They also sell it in a beautiful Christmas tin, if you’re looking for a gift for your grandma.

Seriously, though. This post is probably the closest I’ll ever come to lifestyle blogging, and I personally think I’m totally. ill-qualified to write on fashion. When I told the boy what Kristina had asked me to write about, he laughed in my face. Then we had a minor row about what John Lewis’ ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ policy *actually* means. Which should probably be the second disclaimer. I spend a fair amount of money on my clothes. This post is probably going to end up  an exceedingly middle class read. Please feel free to not read beyond this point – I’ll try to be back with the sex tomorrow.

Like I said, fashion has never really been my thing. My mum was still buying me clothes from M&S long after my friends had started choosing their own. When I did eventually graduate to Tammy Girl, I made some exceedingly poor choices, including a black long-sleeved maxi dress  with Adidas-style stripes up both sides. And a crop top. Tits aside I’m not built for crop tops now, and I wasn’t at 13, either.

At university, there were pretty much two camps of girls when it came to fashion. The scientists and mathematicians wore a uniform of jeans and black fitted T-shirts. The arts students wore little dresses and scarves. Lots and lots of scarves. Based on my clothes, I looked like I was studying Physics, just with a lot more cleavage. My personal ‘style’ didn’t come until I started working.

These days, I think I know what I like and what suits me. I make the odd bad choice, obviously (don’t we all), but I’ve mastered dresses and a look I’m confident in but no longer involves my tits falling out of my neckline quite as much as it used to. I haven’t bought a lot of clothes this year – Jigsaw is absolutely my go-to store, both for its dresses and for its vest tops, which, while pricey, last forever and are really nice and long in the body. Dorothy Perkins can be great for cheap tea dresses which will fall apart if you wear them often enough, but which someone said to me the other day ‘look just like Cath Kidston.’ I bought jeans again a month or so ago (I haven’t owned any for two years!) – Levis demi-curve, which are high-enough, but not too high, at the waist and have enough room to accommodate my arse. If you’re curvier than me, I’m pretty sure the curve increases beyond demi-, too. For blouses to go over jeans, I think Oasis is the best bet.

The pieces I’ve bought that I really, really love this autumn are this dress and this dress, both from Jigsaw. Office-appropriate, dinner appropriate – I finally feel like I’ve found the clothes that make me feel like me. Don’t believe for a minute though that if you have big tits you’ll look like the model does in that second one – I need to wear a camisole under it to be remotely decent in public.

So, what am I still coveting, clothes-wise? Well, I wouldn’t mind this dress and I really, really want this jumper dress from Toast, too. I have a bit of a soft spot for elbow patches. Aside from that, I’d love the Cambridge Satchel Co Music Bag in red.

I’m not great on tips for where to buy jewellery – I have a friend who understands my tastes very well and buys me great earrings as gifts, and round my neck I mostly wear my Alex Monroe bumblebee, which was a gift from my parents. Other than that, I love the majority of what Oh My Clumsy Heart do,  and I’m a sucker for Metal Taboo‘s filthy wares, as well. Of all the earrings I’ve lost, these are the only ones I’ve desperately wanted to replace.

And make up/beauty products. I’m pretty faithful to the products I like – as well as Liz Earle, a lot of the stuff I use in the bath gets bought again and again – like Origins’ Ginger Float bath cream, for example. On my face, I’m just trying to get to grips with primer,  but I’m loving YSL’s new foundation, which was a Twitter recommendation. We’ll just ignore the ‘Youth Liberator’ bit. My lipstick is either Bobbi Brown or MAC’s MAC Red, and my perfume is almost always Dior Pure Poison. Blusher? NARS Orgasm, obviously. I still can’t find a mascara I’m in love with though, so if you have any tips, please leave them in the comments…

Red: a fantasy

20140205-220800.jpg

WI last night (it caused much joy on Twitter that I’m a WI member) and a lesson in the art of perfecting the smoky eye.

Actually, I’m a big fan of sexy eye make up, but the smoky eye is, y’ know, sensible sexy, isn’t it? It’s not slutty, or attention grabbing, it’s office appropriate.

Last time I had a professional make up artist play with my make up, I got her to show me what would be my perfect shade of red lippy, and then I bought it, and all the shebang that goes with it: liner, a brush and sealant.

Continue reading