The Literary Power of Lipstick

While perusing one of my favorite blogs today, stylist.com, I stumbled upon this great interview with Molly Ringwald, who just came out with her own advice book called Getting the Pretty Back: Friendship, Family, and Finding the Perfect Lipstick. It's filled with Ringwald's musings on everything from being a teen style icon to recently turning the big 4-0. Nothing we haven't seen other celebrities tackle in advice tomes before her, but what struck me about her book is the title—specfically the reference to finding the perfect lipstick as a kind of metaphor for accepting who you really are. It then occurred to me that a number of best-selling books in recent years have included the word "lipstick" in their title. In fact, if you type "lipstick" into a book title search on Amazon.com, over 400 results pop up. And they're not all fluffy chick-lit (though I admit, I loved Lipstick Jungle by Candace Bushnell). There are also survival memoirs (Why I Wore Lipstick To My Mastectomy by Geralyn Lucas), cultural commentaries (Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni), thrillers (Lipstick and Lies by Margit Liesche), travel guides (Wanderlust and Lipstick: The Essential Guide for Women Traveling Solo by Beth Whitman), and even children's books (Mardi Loves Lipstick by Marija Munro). What is it about seeing the word "lipstick" on a book cover that draws people in? In my highly un-scientific Amazon research, I couldn't find any books (other than beauty how-to guides) that include "eye shadow" or "blush" in their titles in reference to makeup. It seems lipstick is the one cosmetic that's crossed over from basic tool to metaphor for strength, femininity, and maturing into adulthood. Maybe it's because for many of us, it's the first product we played with from our mom's makeup table. I can't say I have any emotional memories tied to mascara, but whenever I see a tube of bright pink lipstick, I'm reminded of playing dress-up as a little girl with the one my mother had. (To this day, she's still wears that color—now she uses Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupté Lipstick in Provocative Pink #10). Why do you think lipstick is such a hot word for a book title? And just so you don't get too lost in deep thought, here's a great tutorial on how to apply bright lip color with Lancôme makeup artist Alex Sanchez: //
PHOTO FROM GIORGIO ARMANI COSMETICS
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