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Happiness in a Tube: Try It

I started sneaking makeup to school in 6th grade and applying it in the girls' bathroom (along with my grandmother's rhinestone chandelier earrings—the perfect complement to my Champion sweatshirts and braces).

Even back then, I knew I was a red lipstick girl.

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Red lipstick was shocking in its power, dramatic in its effect to take you from blah to glamorous. With it, the rest of your makeup can be minimal. Red lipstick speaks for itself and speaks volumes about the woman who wears it. This is not someone who wants to fade into the background—it's for those of us who are confident and those of us who need a little confidence.

I wore my favorite shade on a daily basis and didn't wait for a special occasion to swipe it on—but many special occasions started with the application of this powerful cosmetic. My tube of Red Drama traveled with me from the bike paths of Appalachia to the streets of Milan. There was no occasion too casual or too formal for me to rock a red lip.

And then the twins were born. And I stopped wearing it.

As a necessity, there were plenty of sartorial choices I had to reconsider now that I had kids. For one thing, wearing anything dry clean only, at least when I was around them, was now off-limits. Same for wearing white. It didn't matter if it was before or after Labor Day—my little guy and gal were drooling, vomiting and pawing at me with sticky fingers. This set of circumstances did not make a great case for wearing anything that wasn't easily wiped clean with a wet sponge.

I traded in a purse for a diaper bag—it was just easier to shove all my crap in there. I already had to keep track of two babies. Two bags? No way.

Holding my daughter, she reached out her finger toward my painted lips—and started to giggle and smile.

And while I didn't totally give up heels, I now began to consider a shoe's comfort ahead of its beauty. (Hobbling around in 4-inch heels like a newborn foal, while pushing a double stroller, doesn't make for fun playground trips.)

But the hardest adjustment of all was giving up my Red Drama.

I felt naked without it but suddenly it made no sense. I probably kissed my babies 100 times a day—times two—and I didn't want to cover their perfect, blemish-free cheeks with makeup. So I compromised and switched to cherry Chapstick.

This was okay for a while. But then twins started getting older, and, while I never stopped kissing them like mad every time I saw them, I decided it was time to bring back some of the old me.

Red lipstick isn't practical for my lifestyle, but it is part of my identity. So with some trepidation, on a random Tuesday morning, I channeled my inner 1940s screen siren and got ready to take the twins to the park.

And then something wonderful happened. Holding my daughter, she reached out her finger toward my painted lips—and started to giggle and smile. I already knew she was a girly girl; she loved to inspect her grandma's jewelry and our babysitter's manicured nails. But at that moment, she was truly delighted by mommy's vibrant smile. It was then that I realized that something that got this type of reaction was in no way incongruous with motherhood.

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On that random Tuesday I made a decision: My shoes may be sensible, my clothes machine washable. But I'll never again give up my red lipstick.

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Image by Deb Wilson Photography

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