Since I was a teenager, when I’m having a bad day, my mother has encouraged me to fix myself up and put on some lipstick. She is a former Mary Kay consultant, perpetually fly, and known for being able to complete a half marathon with her eyeliner still intact.
In my early twenties, I thought perhaps she was being a bit shallow. (Sorry Mom! Love you!) A young feminist know it all, I was sure that it was a waste of time to buy into beauty culture. And since choosing a career focused on uplifting women (first in nonprofits and now as a doula) I have often liked to appear “natural” and as though I have better things to concern myself with than my looks.
But lately, I’ve had a sort of personal glamor revolution.
I have become a member ProDoula, a doula certifying organization that focuses on having high standards for modern birth workers.
Wearing makeup, for me, somehow fits perfectly with being a professional doula. Whether I’m headed to a meeting with a client, swiping on lipstick before going to the hospital, or even just applying mascara to sit at my table to complete homework for my degree in maternal and child health, I know that I am dressed for the day and taking myself seriously. I know that I am highlighting my brilliance with a bit of decoration. I know that I am ready to be the best. And I know that I am ready give you, my clients, excellence.
I now see that I can be “a woman’s woman”, as Randy Patterson, founder of ProDoula would say, and be feminine. I am no longer embarrassed by the part of me that as a teenager would spend an hour putting Shirley Temple curls in her hair and painting each nail a different pattern to match her outfits for the week. After all, she had great grades. And she would grow up to be an awesome womanist.
There is strength in the feminine, and power in tapping into internal beauty and displaying it on the outside. And in a world that is unconvinced that black women are beautiful, I’ve decided that every time I put on makeup, I make a declaration that I matter, and that I’m gorgeous. Lipstick certainly doesn’t do that for everyone, or every woman. But right now, it does that for me.