Missing the Lipstick Gene

By Anne Aldridge Webb

Scan the shelves in my home and you can see me in countless photos alongside southern sisters of all ages. You’ll know me every time; I’ll be the one with no lips. Despite countless attempts to rectify my deficiency, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I am just plain missing the lipstick gene. This is troubling to me, as you can imagine, and everyone knows a true southern woman is never seen in public without her lipstick. If that is true, this is a test I’ve failed miserably again and again.

It’s not as though I didn’t have role models. My cousin, for example, is all that I am not. I have seen her lounging on a floating chair in the middle of a swimming pool under a blazing hot Carolina sun, sipping a margarita and snacking on chips. Perched atop her oasis like a floating Mary Kay model, she has not even smudged her lipstick, or even suffered the slightest leakage onto her pearly white teeth. It is a sight to behold: perfect lipstick management. We all know women like her, and we salute them.

I didn’t even dare to dream that I could achieve that level of magnificence. I just hoped for normal maintenance. I’ve watched generations of women before me discreetly replace barely touched lip color after a meal or easily manage a quick application during rush hour traffic. Following the basic, monkey see-monkey do, rule of life, I enthusiastically attempted the same tricks, but alas, with different results. The restaurant applications always looked frighteningly like unfortunate sauce spills, while attempting to freshen up while driving has resulted in lipstick stains all over various pants, purses, car interiors and once, even my bra.

Even when I am able to get the perfect shade of lipstick beautifully placed on my lips, it won’t last long. Do I produce an inordinate amount of spittle? Does my obviously incessant mouth-breathing blow it all off? These are questions I ponder but dare not ask anyone else. I’ve tried the special lipsticks which, supposedly, never wear off. My poor husband became accustomed to the jarring brightness of the colors, only to discover that all my coffee cups and most of my glassware are permanently stained, but my lips refuse to surrender. The faddish, childlike mood lipstick only proved to me that my moods must veer wildly from bland to invisible.

I know when I’ve been beaten, and after my wedding I gave up the fight. In my lifelong battle to conquer lipstick, I had reached my courthouse at Appomattox. I had just married the perfect man in a lovely ceremony before God and four hundred of my favorite relatives and friends. Filled with happiness, I greeted one guest after another, enjoying hugs and good wishes. I smiled brightly as one impeccably made-up acquaintance approached. She grasped both of my hands in a loving embrace, and I prepared for words of congratulations and joy. That was when she announced loudly and piteously in earshot of many onlookers, “Bless your heart, you’ve lost every bit of your lipstick!” She didn’t even know the half of it.

About this writer

  • Anne Aldridge Webb Anne Aldridge Webb is a freelance writer in Burlington, North Carolina, who has written for publications such as Our State, and North Carolina Signature magazines. Her first children’s book, Appalachian State A to Z, was published this year by Parkway Publishers.

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2 Responses to “Missing the Lipstick Gene”

  1. Charlotte says:

    Anne, you (& your talent of writing) make me so proud.

  2. debbiewike says:

    Anne, So proud of you , I loved the article, you are truly a Diva!

    Love you bunches
    Debbie Wike

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