I never thought I’d see the day come that I would no longer wear lipstick. I have been wearing lipstick or lip gloss since my teenage years. It was my right of passage into womanhood. Throughout the years I have personally contributed much to the financial bottom line success of Revlon.

Tubes of coral, pink and yes, even red lipstick are stockpiled in my bathroom vanity drawer. There are tubes in each purse, my computer bag, and the car console compartment. (Note to self, remember not to leave them in there during the hot summer months lest you want to find a puddle of sticky coral putty smeared on everything else stored in there.)

Working in healthcare has brought a mask wearing mandate due to the coronavirus pandemic. Not only does eight hours of mask wearing cause my skin to break out, it has caused me to rethink applying makeup all together.

After removing the mask I had worn all day today, I took a good look at it. From foundation makeup, to blush, to lipstick, the inside of my mask looked like Tammy Faye Bakker — the wife of defunct televangelist Jim Bakker — who wore entirely too much makeup for a preacher’s wife and probably a bit more than Dolly Parton before a concert performance.

As I sat there staring at this colorfully smeared shield I remembered a scene from the original Batman movie. In that movie The Joker contaminated consumer products with harmful chemicals that would cause deformities and death.

The scene I recalled was when the TV reporters first began their broadcast with both anchors looking like they just stepped out of a Cosmopolitan magazine, groomed and made up to perfection for their viewing audience. After reading the news their appearance changed drastically before their next broadcast.

Neither wore makeup and they both had dishevelled looking hair. Fear caused pride and vanity to be replaced by humility and modesty.

My routine of work, home, gardening — all without makeup — has me wondering if I will ever apply cosmetics again. Can this be the end to my love affair with lipstick? Will Revlon survive without me? After seven weeks of quarantine, will my fiancé show up at the door and ask, “Who are you?”

Which brings up the appearance inequities between men and women.

A man can shave or not, put on a suit and look like a million bucks. It takes ladies a lot longer to get ready and still just look like the $43.75 — before taxes — we spent trying to look like the same million dollars. Too little and we look pale, too much and we look like a cartoon caricature.

I cannot believe that I will succumb to the plain Jane look. I consider myself an artist each time I delicately apply mascara, gently stroke blush across my cheeks and choose a color of lipstick that is coordinated with whatever outfit I decide to wear. I expect to get my $43.75 worth each time I dress up!

Sadly though, I feel the era of glam is disappearing. The Golden Age of Hollywood is a thing of the past and we are no longer trying to look like Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe or Elizabeth Taylor. All of whom wore red lipstick and lots of it.

Once this madness is over and we return to normal, or a new normal, we will once again get out and about. We might continue practicing social distancing for a while but eventually the masks and gloves will disappear. Fear will be replaced with confidence, and once again we will take pride in our appearance.

Yes, I will apply makeup but I think I’ll only wear red lipstick. Now, about this bra…

Jennifer Whittington, a native of Alabama, now lives in North Carolina where she owns a mountainside farm. She has been involved with the healthcare industry most of her life but, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, her passion is cooking and hospitality.

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