Today is the first day of May, and as April has finally come to a conclusion, I wanted to share our latest guest blogger and their thought on the past month. So today, I have a really good friend sharing their story and participation in Red My Lips, what it means and what it did for them.
Red My Lips 2017
Last year my friend, Kristine, asked if I had wanted to participate in red my lips with her. (For those who do not know Red My Lips is a way to help speak out against victim-blaming in the month of April by wearing red lipstick) I gladly said yes, I was not very diligent with it though and wore my red lips maybe 8 times out of the month. I made a post every now and then and often wore the red lips for a picture and wiped it off by the end of the day. I had friends and family that were survivors and I wanted to support them but didn’t want to step outside my comfort zone with it. The last thing I wanted was the attention on my red lips when walking across campus. I made conversation with a couple people about my red lips but very little contact was made about it.
Now, this is the second year that I have participated in red my lips. I still often felt like my lips were too bright some days and I was getting stares I didn’t really want. Some days I just wanted to rub it off. Some days it felt like it was my tattoo of strength. It gave me a little bit of confidence on the days I felt like I had none. I was able to open up dialogue with people who commented on the cherry red color.
This year it was something that has allowed me to heal. The difference between year one and two is that last year was showing solidarity for everyone who had experienced some form of sexual assault and this year I have been going through the healing process from my own experience. Something I never thought would leave such an impact on my life.
Red My Lips and Voices of Hope has reminded me over and over that I am not alone and that there are people out there that are willing to listen, that every story is different, but that doesn’t make any story any less significant, and that an untold story can not heal. I went months keeping it to myself because I didn’t feel it was big enough to say anything and that people would dismiss it as not being something real. When I was feeling defeated I could look through the Instagram tags and see people from all over the world wearing red lips, people hoping to make a change and to spread awareness. I saw solidarity.
I started to see myself as less of a bystander and more actively fighting for a change. When out with friends I would see guys making unsolicited advances towards girls. I no longer could watch it happen, I found myself asking these girls if they needed someone to help get them away. Something I would have never done had I not known I had the support from organizations like Red My Lips and Voices of Hope. I found myself speaking to many more people about why I was wearing the red lips. In feeling like I was making a difference I was changing my own mind in the way I was handling the pain I was feeling inside.
Last year I thought wearing my red lips and posting pictures are what would make the difference and this year I am seeing that it is much more than that. It is a change in language, it is being kind to strangers, and it is being a listening ear for anyone that needs it. We tend to fall short in these areas. Even with education, instead of teaching how not to get raped why aren’t we teaching respect to others bodies? Why do we ask questions about what the victim was doing or wearing instead of just listening to them?
My challenge to everyone as Red My Lips ends this April is to continue to make a difference and not wait until next April to show support. We can change rape culture. It starts with us and what comes off our lips.