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Saturday, 14 February 2015

Rouge and Rebellion

This post is a participating entry for ‘A Style Of My Own’ blogger contest by Women’s Web and Trishla emart.

Do you remember when you were little, you'd stand by the dressing table and watch your mother get ready? I was that girl. My eyes would sparkle watching her clip up her hair in a half up-do, kohl her eyes and then the most anticipated application of the red lipstick. To me that was a glorious moment. I watched her go from just mom to fabulous mom. 
I awed at every young woman who took time and patience to do her make up. I would wait, most impatiently to attain adolescence so that I could be one of those sophisticated women who would rock a bold red lip like nobody's business.

And that time did come. All the young girl practice sessions of lipstick application and rummaging through my mother's dressing drawers did bear fruit. May be not in a way that society would accept.
I took my love for the colour red to different heights. In the last 6 years, once I transformed to a redhead I didn't come back. It became my identity. I explored every shade that I could possibly achieve ,never letting it fade. Starting from ' Rihanna Red ' to the current copper red that I have been sporting lately. 

Of course I couldn't ditch my red lipsticks and nail varnishes. I was a riot of red, without a doubt and I loved it. 
However, bold choices grabs eyeballs and generates talk. Not always good talk, mostly criticism. From men to women, down to my parents. I would get attention, at times unnecessarily, from the opposite sex. As for the women, I was called desperate, attention seeking or various synonyms of harlot. Despite being thick skinned, it did hurt my feelings some days. It was just a colour, its just a personal preference, then why so much negativity? And that is when I started exploring feminism.

 I guess from the type of picture I paint, I would probably be called an advocate of lipstick feminism. Third wave feminism as it was called post 80s and in the 90s where women embrace feminine concepts like beauty, sexuality and fashion. On stumbling upon this information, my urge to rebel against societal norms and ideas of the perfect girl increased.

 Majority of the times, it did not take me good places yet I was adamant. I couldn't let anyone have that kind of power over me where I would be forced to change. It seems like a shouting match but it had to be done. As time passed by, I was accepted for who I was. My rewards came when random women down the street or in the ladies room or wherever came up to me and said ' I love your hair ! ' or ' I love the way you pull off red ' 

I loved the colour red so much that I started buying lip balms with a red tint in them. I have a tube of red lipstick in each of my bags, in my office drawer and in my dad's car. I settle for nothing less. 
It has been said that French fashion designer Coco Chanel found red lipstick and nail varnish vulgar since all her guests would leave stains on her tableware. Even though, there are some set etiquette and occasions to wear red, in my context I let them fly out the window. I liked staining my morning tea cups, my cigarette butts, my glass of water all so that I feel a sense of pride when I see the imprints. I'm unstoppable. Look at me, I type with red fingernails this very minute!

Now on reading this you may be wondering, what's with all the hidden codes and connotations? I agree. All these justifications aren't , nor should they ever be needed. There was a time when there was a patriarchal hold over something as personal and feminine like beautification. In these modern times, we do it to for us. We paint ourselves to celebrate us and there is no shame in doing so.

Experimenting at times means pushing boundaries. You start off skeptical, but I say this woman to woman, you will be so proud of yourself that the next challenge won't even seem hard.

خُدا حافِظ


  1. Even for others (not only women to women) we start off skeptical when in dilemma, but once we find ourselves experimenting & pushing boundaries, we see the light and couldn't believe that we did it better then what we expected when we started off in hesitation.

    Mehreen, I nominated you for Most Inspiring Blogger Award. You can view your nomination here:

    1. I couldn't agree with you more.

      Thank you for nominating me and supporting my work throughout!
      Its such a privilege.

  2. I remember seeing you at Joseph's. We were both there to write the ACJ entrance exams, and you were easily the first person I actually properly noticed. I remember thinking, "Oh this hair is kind of loud," but then I spoke to you and my first thought about your hair disappeared.
    I think people often associate such bold statements with some kind of rebellious nature, but I've come to learn, albeit quite slowly, that it's personal choice and it's completely normal. There's nothing "crazy" about having red or purple or blue hair. You DO pull it off and I can't imagine a Mehreen with black hair at all. I like this post very much. Please write more often. : )
    (Planning to go get purple streaks now. I already have purple lip balm. :P)

  3. I agree. Red lipstick says "I am not afraid" . Good work! :)

    1. Thank you Rads! Congrats on bagging the 1st prize :)