BY KRISTINE ROSE
After 26 long years of confusion, lust, love, and tears, I finally did it...I broke up with New York City. I'm spending the summer in Northampton Massachusetts with two friends, two cats, and a dog. They are all adorable. Then in August I am moving for good to Philadelphia with my partner Sean. It's a lot of change, but I think I'm starting to feel better away from the soul draining madness of my long time home. I'm like a chicken in one of those organic meat commercials, at first they show it in this tiny cage with half its feathers missing and then the same chicken, free range on a farm, lush and healthy, having the time of its little poultry life. Though it still ultimately ends up in the same place, it's heart has known happiness.
Still, I wasn't without my reservations. Leaving everything I've ever known was an innately nerve wrecking thing. I sat on the Northampton bound bus with a mixture of excitement and energy, clinging to a few familiar things. A cicada bracelet from my best friend, a stuffed octopus, a cup of Starbucks green tea, and a gorgeous bronze lipstick.
Some people dress for the job they want, I dress for the person I want to be. That lipstick made me feel put together, confident, and ready for adventure. So obviously, some fucking stranger had to try and ruin it. I was re applying my lip stick, when a man in his late 40s indulged in his pressing need to inform me that I "didn't need all that" (all of my one lipstick that I was applying), because I was pretty anyway. Well you can just imagine how grateful I was! I mean here I am just sitting there listening to Portishead , eating my bagel, and desperately hoping that I had not only gained the aesthetic approval of those around me, but that it would be announced in a timely fashion, before I went and did something to ruin it.
That was not the first time someone had felt the need to tell me what I should and should not be doing with my own face. And unfortunately, the vast majority of those someones are men. I'm sure it can and does happen to people of all genders by people of all genders, but this has overwhelmingly been my experience. It happens a very specific, passive aggressive way in a straight/cis context. What is it about a girl alone, applying lipstick in public, that equates to holding a neon sign asking "MEN! PLEASE TELL ME I'M PRETTY BEFORE I PROCEED TO RUIN MYSELF!" ? Because sometimes being pretty is not the point. Sometimes I want to look like art. Sometimes I want to look like a god damn alien and that's my business.
If I choose to wear brown or grey lipstick one day because it's my partner's favorite that's fine, because I like it too and it's my choice within my relationship. But how dare some stranger on the street who I owe nothing to have the audacity to tell me to look pretty for *them*. That is not a harmless compliment, that is entitlement.
I wish this was just some freak thing that only happened to me, but it's unfortunately all too common. A friend of mine who is probably one of the prettiest girls I've ever seen, gets negative comments all the time for her edgy style. There's something about the idea of a girl who "could be conventionally attractive" to straight men deliberately choosing not to do so that they find as an affront.
How dare you not be fuckable when you could have so easily been fuckable?
And clearly we ARE doing it to be fuckable. Because why would you possibly put on make up to express yourself? You are clearly doing it for men, and men, being oh so considerate, are simply letting you know you don't have to try so hard to impress them. You just have to look exactly the way they want without it.
Well I hate to tell them, but I don't give a SHIT if others find me attractive. I care a whole hell of a lot of I find myself attractive . I put a ton of effort into finding myself attractive, but that doesn't give anyone the right to expect something from me. I am the person who will straighten my hair to walk the dog or sit home by myself. It's therapeutic to spend time on yourself and make yourself a priority. It has nothing to do with the outside world, so they can keep their thoughts in their own damn heads.
There's also some unwritten rule that women shouldn't apply make up in public. Even if your lips are bright magenta, you're supposed to be coy about it, as though you could possibly have woken up that way. Fuck that. I will apply lipstick liberally and frequently. I am not ashamed or embarrassed to put effort into my look. Putting on make up is something I enjoy, not a dirty little secret. Lipstick is a lifestyle, it takes some effort to maintain throughout the day. And I have no problem being transparent about that beauty work.
I'm not naive enough to think what happened on the bus will be the last incident. I'm sure not a week will go by without more unsolicited comments, but I will be steadfast in my approach to beauty. I will not let them get me down or change who I am. I will wear the darkest and brightest lipsticks I own and gleefully apply them in public. Say something to me, I dare you. Like Mark Z. Danielewski's dedication for House of Leaves: This is not for you.
Kristine Rose is wearing all the lipstick on Instagram @swansaredead