2009 has been declared the year of hot pink.

The funny thing about this — funny to me, anyway — is that I hadn’t read that yesterday when I bought two new lipsticks, both of them shades of pink. I wanted something bright and fresh for the summer. I was inspired by my guilty pleasure, NCIS; in the more recent episodes, Pauley Perrette (Abby Sciuto) has been wearing a bright, softer-than-hot-pink lipstick I thought would look great on me, so that prompted the hunt.

I didn’t get anything like that. Instead I got Plumful and All’s Fair, one of which is a special edition that’s been discontinued. I’m completely cool with that — by the time I’ve used it up, summer will be over. They’re almost exactly the same color, but one is more sheer and shimmery, so different enough.

The  beloved doesn’t get the whole make-up thing. I love, love, love playing with makeup, especially now that I kind of know what works for me and what I can’t do. (It’s only taken 20+ years to figure it out — this is the kind of thing that makes me understand why Shaw said youth is wasted on the young.) The beloved thinks I like playing with it out of insecurity, that I’m not pretty enough, or because I think I don’t have enough color in my face. (“You have enough color in your face,” is a frequent remark.)

I don’t think it’s that. It’s partly a professional thing: I think makeup adds polish to my appearance. I walk a line in the way I dress — depending on the rest of what’s going on (hair, makeup, accessories), I can look professional without stuffiness…or just casual. I want to look professional but not stuffy, so I make sure everything contributes.

It’s also, I think, an artistic thing. If I just want to look polished, I don’t need 25 or so shades of eyeshadow, or to carry around five different lipsticks every single day. I could find what works for me and stick with it. But I don’t do that. If the pattern I use for applying eyeshadow doesn’t change — which it doesn’t, since the shape and setting of my eyes doesn’t change — the colors do. And if the actual shades are subtle, the differences between them aren’t. I don’t vary shades of brown, or shades of green. I have green and blue and gray and purple and pink and brown. Which one I choose is based on mood and (sometimes) what I’m wearing. (I try not to wear green eyeshadow when I’m wearing a green shirt, for example.)

All of this turns my face into a palette, a place where I can express myself. The beloved isn’t artistic in the least bit, so it’s not an explanation I offer.

And to think I once thought I wasn’t creative.


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