Red Lipstick Revolution
The other morning, I was getting ready for work and decided I was going to wear a red lipstick. I wore my red lipstick and headed to the office, no longer merely the good girl who is afraid to be noticed, to appear less smart, less credible, too feminine. I was the wild woman so excited to fight for her freedom.
Walking to the office was a metaphor for walking through my vulnerability. I was faced challenge of integrating the two parts, the good girl and the wild woman debating in my mind. I cannot remember any other day where my walk to the office was so long. I was afraid of being noticed and judged.
Silly comments on my red lips arrived both from men and women. The point isn’t about my receiving a silly comment versus a nice one. We must be aware that women and men are held to double standards and we women not only allow it—we perpetuate it. I myself that morning labeled and judged myself, fearing that I wasn’t being appropriate. I myself took freedom from myself.
The implicit bias we carry around and how we label situations and humans concerns me. My red lips did not add or take away from my leadership skills. I am not suddenly less credible or less smart because of them. I do not become somebody else because I wear red lipstick. I believe that we actually become somebody else and lose who we are when we try so desperately to fit in.
True leadership starts with self and by embodying our values every day, with or without lipstick. The same applies when we are the one making comments and labeling another woman based on our implicit bias. The implicit bias is a double-edged sword that affects both the victim and the perpetrator.
We need to actively play a role in dismantling inequality and write new stories of inclusion. We get to be the ones who name ourselves without labeling ourselves.
Women of business, women of science, women of politics, women on boards, whoever you are: What happens when you paint your lips red?
Wearing that lipstick that morning, for me, was a sign of embodying the mission I am on: to foster a world where everyone is treated equally, and our humanity is recognized.
Take the time to stand up for yourself and attend the red lipstick revolution.
I have a challenge for you: Portray yourself in a selfie or ask a colleague to hold your hand as you take a picture of yourself wearing red lipstick.
Share your story to increase awareness, to create real change and a more inclusive society. Share your own story of liberation and transformation.
As I discovered that day, the red lipstick revolution needs all of us.
Fateme Banishoeib is the founder of Understand Diversity 2 B Inclusive. Her work in the biopharmaceutical industry over the past 15 years has led her from R&D to operations to strategic planning. The work she has grown to love most is helping organizations change from the inside out. She is a woman, a scientist, and an executive who seeks to find meaning in the everyday. A daughter of an Italian mother and a Persian father, her motto is integration of who we are as an act of self-leadership—in so doing, we become more inclusive of others. She can be found at www.fatemebanishoeib.com and on Twitter @FBanishoeib