Do you wear something special that gives you courage and power? Is there a favorite perfume, necklace or pair of heels that makes you feel confident? Many women share they often use symbolic artifacts to help gain self-confidence and courage. Sandra, a corporate executive, acknowledged that she always wears Oscar de La Renta. “I started wearing Oscar when I was thirty years old, new in my career. People complimented me on the fragrance, and I still wear it today. I believe this perfume gives me a bold sense of confidence and courage. Silly, huh? Maybe, but it works for me.”
Power is elusive and no one person or magic wand can bestow power on you. Personal power comes from within and only you can generate your own power. Sometimes a certain piece of clothing or make up style can give a woman that “kick ass” feeling. Finley, a successful business owner, shared that wearing red lipstick has become her unique signature. “Let’s face it, the world is getting very diverse and it’s more difficult to make a personal statement. I want to look different and stand out so red lipstick has become my trade mark. With my red lipstick I feel like I can take on anything that comes my way. I never go out in public without it.”
Red lipstick has quite a story when it comes to powerful women. History reveals that Cleopatra made her own shade of red lipstick by crushing ants and beetles. And despite the belief that wearing red lipstick would challenge God, Queen Elizabeth wore dark red lips against her white powdered complexion. Then in the late 1800s red lipstick took a turn for the worse when Queen Victoria proclaimed any use of cosmetics, particularly red lipstick, was to be discouraged since the majority of women who wore red lipstick were prostitutes. And in 1880 Sarah Bernhardt, an actress and well-known feminist was responsible for bringing red lipstick back in style. She was often seen applying red lipstick in public which challenged social etiquette for women. Sarah’s behavior drew widespread attention, making red lipstick fashionable once again. Finally, in 1910 Elizabeth Arden, a rarified female business owner broke new ground when her Fifth Avenue store showcased a new shade of lipstick, Red Door Red. Historians report that Elizabeth gave the Suffragettes free lipstick tubes as they marched in the streets in front of her store triggering red lipstick as a symbol of hope, power and strength for women. [i]
While red lipstick boasts a compelling story as a symbol of strength and power, some women report that they don’t wear lipstick. Rather, a signature perfume, spiked heels, designer jeans, red nail polish, Louis Vuitton bag, favorite watch, or Fitbit often serve as confident boosters. The psychology behind these objects of affection for building inner confidence is deep and women are keenly aware of their intrinsic influence on their personal power. Whatever the motivation or item, the message is clear - wear what makes you happy, resilient, confident, courageous, unabashed and powerful. And don’t leave home without it!!!
DON'T FORGET YOUR LIPSTICK, GIRL: Sister to Sister Secrets for Gaining Confidence, Courage and Power (Delmar Publishing, 2020).
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[i] Hesse, A. (2017). The feminist history of red lipstick. Retrieved from https://yourdream.liveyourdream.org/2017/09/feminist-history-of-red-lipstick/