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I wore bold lip color for a week and here's what happened

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Mary McCoy is a writer and social worker for disenfranchised women and children. She's a single mom, lover of Texas barbecue, and a die-hard fan of yoga

How one small beauty decision can make a world of difference

Let me be clear: Lipstick is not my thing.

In fact, I can hardly stand the stuff. It always ends up on my teeth or embarrasses me with unexpected blotchiness that resembles a skin disease. And then, when the weather turns hot, lipstick feels to me like I'm wearing a sweater on my lips. It's like, I don't know how this is possible, but my lips are wearing a sweater. They are sweating.

Only, they're not; I'm just being difficult. The fact is that I am jealous of women who can pull off a bold lip color in all their head-turning glory. Me? I'm more of a lip gloss and heavy eyeliner kind of lady. That's why I leaped at the chance to break outside of my makeup box to try a bold lip color for a week, just to observe how people responded to me and how my new look caused me to respond to the world.

Day 1: Frightening the children

How one small beauty decision can make a world of difference

My daughter, as expected, did not disappoint me with her reaction. She's 4 and she's crazy. Lately she's been quoting that part in Frozen when the Duke of Weselton points at Elsa and whispers, "Sorcery!" Only she does that while pointing at me, and she certainly did it when she saw my red lips. Later on at the park, I overheard her telling the other children, "My mom is the tall one who looks like a witch!"

Day 2: My first admirer

On Tuesday, I made my way to my hairstylist for a haircut that was four months overdue. She saw my bold, crimson color and gushed, "Wow, that's amazing! It's so perfect with your shoes." Once I told her what I was up to, she called a few other stylists over to give me their feedback and they were similarly in love with the wild color. Hey, I thought, maybe I don't look like a witch after all.

Day 3: The men don't understand

How one small beauty decision can make a world of difference

I'm in the middle of a home remodel, so I spent a good chunk of Wednesday at Home Depot. I met up with my two awesome — and opinionated — contractors to purchase some lumber while wearing a deep plum lip color. We have good rapport, so apparently they thought they didn't have to hold back. "You look older than normal," said one of them. "It's just — it's just that you look so much prettier without it."


Day 4: Confused but complimentary

Thursday morning was perfect for yoga, so I suited up in my black yoga pants, black tank and bright red lipstick. Even I had to admit that I looked a little more like a restaurant hostess or a French painter than a yogi. No matter. I noticed that many of my fellow practitioners looked at me with confusion when I showed up, but one woman approached me after class and said, "I like your lipstick." Namaste, my friend. I was also surprised when a trainer complimented my eyebrows, which looked the same as usual. I guess all the color on my face just drew more attention to what was already there.

Day 5: Confident with bold

How one small beauty decision can make a world of difference

On day five, I went about my business and no one said much. No one even seemed to notice. I felt relieved that I didn't have to field questions. I also noticed that I was feeling much more comfortable with my appearance and perhaps even confident with going bold again.

I still prefer gloss to bright lipstick, but my weeklong experiment was illuminating. I discovered that my women friends have an appreciation for beauty and style that my male friends just don't seem to have. I also learned that bold fashion choices tend to attract lovers and haters, but very few neutral parties. And maybe that's reason enough to experiment with wild or bold fashion — the opportunity to make a strong impact with one small choice was surprisingly intoxicating.

Images: Mary McCoy

This post was brought to you by Nordstrom Rack. Get your own bold lip color online at

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