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Put Some Lipstick on...

The Power of the Lipstick Effect

By Leslie StavenPublished 3 months ago 3 min read
Top Story - March 2024
Put Some Lipstick on...
Photo by Євгенія Височина on Unsplash

Regardless of where I was or how I felt, one thing always remained constant. As reliable as time passing, as anticipated as a sunrise, its predictability was unwavering. It, I suspect, existed only in my life, and influenced me in all aspects of my life.

It began, I suspect, when I was about 14 years old and my heart began beating to its own irresponsible, erratic, slow and uninspired drummer. With its changes came a slew of physical responses from the rest of my body, trying to do its best without the benefit of the regularity of blood pumping to fuel it! The effects of blood getting to my brain only sporadically, affected every organ. My blood pressure was imperceptible, and I would have been lost against the white hospital sheets except my complexion was a shade lighter and grayer. I felt like the last bit of moisture on a hot, Texas sidewalk – vaporizing and hopeless.

Every day, multiple times, I’d hear it. Click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click. The sound came from the hallways of the hospital, growing louder with each click. The door would burst open and there, all 5 feet, 2 inches of her, would be my mother, always in a skirt and low heels, smiling and carrying the news of home to me. The curtains, had they not already been, would be raised so I could see what, nine out of ten times, would be a brick wall or some exhaust unit on the rooftop. But there would be light! Mom always brought light with her, no matter what was happening in her world or my world.

However dependable, her arrival to my room was not the one thing that followed me from those hospital rooms to my bed at home, and, eventually, 4-1/2 decades later, into my every day.

She would pause at some point, look at me for a moment, and say –

“Put some lipstick on. You’ll feel better.”

I know! Not exactly a deep philosophical remark to be written in stone and passed on through the ages. Or was it?

I know, at the time (and, if I am honest, til the day she died), I’d roll my inner eyes at her when she said it (I knew better than actually to roll my eyes at her), and then what would I do? Well, I put some lipstick on.

Did I feel better?

I can attest without any hesitation that as soon as I put the lipstick on I felt – unchanged. I remember thinking, Well, at least she feels better.

You know, sometimes, when I put lipstick on, I sat up to do it, and it inspired me to do other things while I was up, like brush my hair. I did look better, but I didn’t feel any better. I was fighting for my life, not trying to compete in a beauty pageant.

People came and went 24 hours a day. After Mom’s first visit of the day, people always were a bit chattier. I got to hear the nurses’ stories. I was attentive and – oh, man! Was my mother right, AGAIN?

You and I can look back to the Great Depression’s Lipstick Effect, we can discuss the most recent findings on the Lipstick Effect, or we can find the proof by referring to a peer-reviewed article, but, to sum it all up, Mom was right.

So, when Mom broke her hip and wrist, and landed herself in a rehabilitation hospital, the first thing I said to her when I walked in and opened her curtains was, Put some lipstick on, you’ll feel better. She muttered something and blatantly rolled her eyes at me – and then she put her lipstick on and, while she was up, brushed her hair, and faced her day of hours of therapy.

The doctors were amazed that Mom was up and walking four months earlier than expected. She and I both knew that the Lipstick Effect is far more powerful than imaginable. Her doctor looked at her and said, “We need to know your secret, and bottle it.” Mom and I looked at each other, knowing it is already in a tube! And then...

Mom put some lipstick on.


About the Creator

Leslie Staven

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Comments (7)

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  • Kathy Tsoukalasabout 16 hours ago

    I really do believe that lipstick is magical!

  • Congratulations 🎉

  • Anna 3 months ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳🥳🥳

  • Bhangs Corporation3 months ago

    A nice one just needs to ask one thing after every sentence or full stop you kept 1 extra space does it mean anything or unconsciously it happened

  • Hannah Moore3 months ago

    ...she feels better. Love it. On the other hand, it did seem to get the ball rolling!

  • Davina Zinn McKee3 months ago

    This is wonderfully written. When people are depressed, the first thing they do is stop taking care of their appearance. Little things, like hair being unkempt, and just throwing on any outfit that at least appears to be clean. Then their hygiene goes, for their bodies and homes. Like you said, that first step of putting lipstick on is likely to lead to more steps, like brushing hair. It really does put someone in a mind frame that they wouldn’t be in if they laid around feeling self pity. I even notice that if I do my makeup and dress nice, I am more likely to get writing done from my desk in my home, rather than procrastinating. Congrats on a fabulous top story. 💄

  • "I felt like the last bit of moisture on a hot, Texas sidewalk – vaporizing and hopeless" incredibly visual and I love the idea of the lipstick effect. My mom was the same way. What a wonderful resurrection of a fond memory. Congratulations on your top story

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