Free Up! – Ruby You

Yaba red lip
August 27, 2013: The first time I wore red lipstick
Photo Credit: Ann Blake


by: Yaba Blay

It wasn’t until I graduated from college and started getting my hair braided at a shop owned and operated by Senegalese women that I began to appreciate bright colors on dark skin. No matter what time of year I entered that shop those sisters were wearing sunshine. Bold, bright, and full of life. Nobody can rock electric blue, hot pink, golden yellow, ruby red and any other color of the kaleidoscope like we can. Nobody. So why do so many of us who wear dark skin avoid wearing bright lip colors?

Growing up, I learned two things about red lipstick – only fast girls wore it and I was too dark for it. I avoided it for both reasons. I didn’t wear bright lipstick in general, choosing to wear neutrals and earth tones instead because somewhere along the line I also learned that those were the colors that best suited my complexion; colors that wouldn’t draw attention to my skin tone.

It wasn’t until the “Ruby Woo Revolution” that I began to even consider wearing red lipstick. While my homegirls were rocking red lips, I sat on the fence, singing my same ole tune “red lipstick doesn’t look right on me.” And then I started working on ‘Pretty. Period.’ Here I was rallying up the troops, organizing a battle cry against the negative assumptions people make about dark skin, and not only was I feeding into the negativity but I was feeding off of it.

On August 27, 2013 – yes, just a few months ago – I wore red lipstick for the first time. In my life. I’ll be 40 this year. The above picture was taken on that day. I wore M·A·C ‘Ruby Woo.’ A few weeks later, my godsister sent me M·A·C ‘RiRi Woo’ as a gift. Today, my daughter gave me a stick of Revlon Colorburst in “Provocateur Femme Fatale.” I’ve tried plums and pinks. Next, I want to try orange. And maybe even fuchsia. I’m loving color these days and I can’t believe it took me this long to get into it. Like my girlfriend said to me the other day, “They can’t keep you out of that red lipstick now, can they?” Nope! ‘They’ sure can’t. And ‘they’ shouldn’t keep you out of red lipstick either.

Continue reading at ‘Pretty.Period’

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