Photo: Tim Frederick
Would you ever wear lipstick? Would you ever not wear lipstick? Would you only wear lipstick in a studio? What is it about the tip of a stick of red wax – or whatever lipstick is made of these days – that frightens us into submission? Why does lipstick draw such a bright line between us? To which groups do we belong? From which groups are we separated? When is it OK to cross over? What part of ourselves do we give away daily to the pull of the people around us? What part do we fiercely defend? Why do we fear being apart? What is the thrill of belonging? Why do we wear costumes to make us feel real? How is adding lipstick a subtraction? How do we become ourselves naturally? And how do you say this in a portrait? One act of artifice on a face bearded with artifice in a studio illuminated with artifice, stacked like layers of lipstick to reveal the unspoken truth: I choose to become myself even though I am afraid.
Some people say, “You will never put lipstick on me if you ever take my photograph!” The braver souls among us say, “This lipstick is my armor and my foil. I dare you to take my portrait.”