When I was 13, my family went on a week long camping trip to Yosemite. I was eager to get out of my suburban confines, away from the ruthless war zone that was our Junior High campus. I remember being mesmerized by the towering trees and smell of pure, clean earth. I walked through our campground later that afternoon and heard the sound of cackling laughter and what sounded to be a name being called in sing-song.
I soon realized it was the group of neighboring kids, around my same age, laughing and calling out "thunderrrr thigggghhhhs! oh, thuuunnnddeerrr thiggghhhs!!!"
The subject of their amusement.... me.
I was thunder thighs. Storming through the campground apparently causing small earthquakes and shaking the enormous trees as I walked.
This continued for the duration of my trip and I began to make it a point to walk to the showers under the cover of night, to look around for my tormentors whenever I came out of my tent, to make myself as minuscule as possible.
After the camping trip, these practices manifested themselves into my day to day. I avoided eye contact, sat it the back, kept my limbs as close to my body as possible to reduce the amount of physical space I thought I took up. I threw bath towels over mirrors, I wore black...
Anything to reduce my own visibility in the world, and thus, eliminate any more future ridicule.
In the months leading up to my 32nd birthday, I became obsessed with buying a tube of red lipstick. It had to be the perfect shade, I couldn't afford to experiment. Every opportunity I got, I would stroll through the make-up section of stores, browse the shades, pick one up, put it down.
I had always loved red lipstick; the intensity of it, the sultry images it induces, the boldness, the confidence. I never wore red lipstick because of everything that I believed it embodied; everything I didn't believe I was. It would call too much attention to me, and attention is what I had worked so hard to avoid.
A couple of weeks leading up to my birthday, as I picked up toothpaste and toilet paper, I walked into the makeup aisle once again. This time, after inspecting a few tubes of lipstick, I threw one into my basket.
Tonight I went out with a group of friends and coworkers to continue celebrating my birthday, wearing Rebel Red and a sequined sweater. A couple of sangria's into the night, I found myself on stage singing The Cure's "Love Cats."
Front and center.
There was no hiding. Nor did I feel the need to.
I was armed with Rebel Red.
Can a tube of red lipstick give you confidence?
No, but embracing your confidence gives your lips a nice smiling canvas to paint.