Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Are you too dark to wear red lipstick?

By Tenisha Mercer

Beautiful images of Oscar-nominated actress Lupita Nyong'o are everywhere -- her lovely dark skin accented by bright colors and colorful makeup on the red carpet and in fashion mags. Must be a look for Hollywood only, because when an ordinary (read: non-celeb) dark-skinned black woman wore bright red lipstick on Essence.com, Black folks lost their damn minds.

They went in on Rocquelle Porch, pictured below, for her lipstick choice on a photo caption that meant to highlight natural hair. Instead, it turned into a debate about her lipstick and whether she was too dark to wear it.

One minute we love and worship dark-skinned women like Lupita; the next minute we're told our  skin is too dark to rock red lipstick.

'Too dark'
Same old ish, different day. It's fine to have a personal preference; it's makeup, we all do, just as we would when it comes to a work of art that is subjective. Which is what makeup tends to do. Some will like it, others won't. But judged by how they went in on Rocquelle, the ugly old stuff, ish that we thought was over, clearly remains.

And we aren't over it.

The unwritten "rules" remain -- that dark skin shouldn't be played up by bright-colored makeup. Most dark-skinned women of a certain age are familiar with it. Hell, I've heard it all my life. But doesn't mean I've ever paid (much) attention to it.

I'm no makeup arist, but most would tell you that lipsticks must mesh with your undertones or it can look a mess, no matter the complexion. This is the reason why a pale pink looks mess on my skin tone but perfectly fine on someone with fairer skin with the right undertones. And I'm no fan of the bright Barbie doll pink lipstick on most folks, made popular by Nicki Minaj. It always seems a little off because of the lighter undertone.

It should not be this difficult

Not liking something is one thing; it's a personal choice, the same way some folks like bright colors and some like neutrals or basics. But that's wayyyyy different than what most commenters said. It got into colorism, real quick.

“Take that red lipstick off.all black people cann’t wear this for real”
“Everybody can’t wear RED lipstick, baby u should have tried Wine,”
“Please stop wearing red lipstick when your complexion is very dark. Uh!”
“My, my that red lipstick is ugly as pure hell! It’s not for everyone.”

The comments in Essence even took me aback, because I'm dark-skinned and I regularly wear MAC's Ruby Woo.  I think the blue undertone looks great on my complexion, and I'm proud to say I'm seeing more dark-skinned women wearing bright tones I thought I'd never see.

Most commenters didn't say it was a bad look (which is a personal preference) but that her skin was dark). For real? I didn't see any comments (maybe they were taken down) on Tuesday,  but I saw these posted in a story on BGLH.com.

I wonder what we'd say if Lupita Nyong'o rocked the look? Hmm.... I hope Rocquelle says haters, be damned. And keep wearing her red lipstick. I'm going to keep wearing mine, Rocquelle, and dare anyone to say anything to my face.

How about you?




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