Trading Coasts: NYC

Kelly

When I announced I was making the move from San Luis Obispo, California to New York City, I welcomed a mixed bag of reactions with a graceful smile and nod. It seems as though my peers value Oprah’s now semi-outdated opinion that San Luis Obispo is the happiest town in America more than my progressive life goals.

And I get it. San Luis Obispo is a kind and peaceful bubble where many are reluctant to leave and too few are lucky enough to afford to stay; where young women stroll around merrily on bicycles, and young men rite-of-passage themselves by drinking Rolling Rocks like spring water at frattastic frat parties. I’m gonna miss you and your sexist conversation tanks, frat bros. Especially when you wear your “MONEY AND BITCHES” tanks to women’s violence prevention fairs.

So while I’m going to miss my #1 dudes, and all of these other things, I’ve been trolling the web and finding things out about my new home, like how big subway rats are. Aside from the excruciating anxiety from trying to find a place to live by convincing strangers on the Internet that I’m not a crusty leech, I’ve been fist pumping about the thrill of starting a new chapter in the ol’ life book.

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Goodbye Big Sur! And thanks Brice for the best GIF ever.

Here’s my list of top excitement points. Have something that I should get excited for? Or shouldn’t? Let it be known in the comment section.

Yeast

Maybe it’s this Stella video, or maybe it’s this other weird video, but like…pizza.

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PUT IT IN THE PIZZA

Adopting an occasional New York accent for certain key phrases like “IM WALKIN HEEEYYA” but slipping in California slurs when I talk about surfing.

Whenever I hang out with distinctly-accented people, I become a colloquial sponge. Sometimes I feel like I have an occasional Chicago accent for no apparent reason, which also makes me mean. And boy oh boy, I can’t wait to accidentally start talking like a New Yorker. Not in a cute way, like a grimy taxi driver kind of way, so that I’m only in accent when I yell.

But when it comes to surfing, and I talk about my 4/3, and my 7’2 single fin, and how I ride shin-high waves in the white water, every consonant is being stretched like a bungee cord. So that *maybe* some cute boy will think, hey, she can say four convincing things about surfing! I think I’ll buy her a basket of bagels.

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“Are there bagels in here?”

 Not Running Into Ex Boyfriends Everywhere I Go

5 years in one town of 40,000 and a socially active Kelly means that sometimes Kelly dates people and sometimes they are in the same friend circles and sometimes we all eat dinner together and sometimes I am face punching myself in my head.

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D’oh

Petting Other People’s Dogs

While your dirty mind might take this for a euphemism about peepees, it’s not. The last time I visited New York as a wee 16-year-old, my dear friend Courtney gave pets to cute dogs all around the city. We’re talking like, 15 dog pets per diem. When one bald man with a bulldog said no, she and I stopped petting dogs. Now…NOW…I have the chance to make up for pets lost because of that cruel, cruel man with an asthmatic overweight puppy.

Wearing Turtlenecks For Function

At some point in high school, I bought a Steve Jobs turtleneck at The Gap, and holy shit was it sexy. I’m hoping that my 2014 revisit will have me looking something like this:

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Maybe my butt shape will look like that too.

In the spirit of limiting my extraneous thoughts, here’s a list of a few more things that make me feel giddy:

Haircut possibilities

Making strangers be my friends

Growing as a person

Getting into comedy

The heightened possibility of seeing a live person wear Sketchers Shapeups

Public transportation

Diversity

How my new and exciting life will be perceived via Instagram

 

Melissa

When I first learned that Kelly would be continent-hopping over to my former coast, my initial response was a dramatic, Long Island inspired, “WHHHYYYY?!?!” Living on the west coast is easy. You get to see the sun, every.day. The weather is perfect, every.day. You get to wear sandals, every.day. Amazing sushi, fish tacos, In-N-Out, Coffee Bean, surfers, real life Barbie dolls, free beach concerts, year-round tan… IN-N-OUT!

But then I remembered that New York is fucking awesome, and instantly became a bit jealous about all the amazing things she gets to discover for the first time. The list was not easy to narrow down (and knowing me will probably extend into the comments), but here are just a few things I hope she will get to experience, and love as much as I do.

 

Zoooooom!!! and it’s gone.

A New York Minute—it’s a thing. The most shocking thing about my move to the west was how SLOW everything is. A million things happen in a minute in New York City. Try not to blink. You’ll miss something.

I’m a Hustler—don’t be one. Adjust your hustle to keep up with the locals or you’ll get trampled during the morning and evening rush. New Yorkers can identify a tourist from a mile away just by observing the pace and swagger of their walk. You’ll learn to hate it too, in time.

Hug a Tree—don’t be surprised to see a one by one foot square fenced in with an official city park sign plastered to the front of it. It’s rare to see grass sprouting directly from the earth in the concrete jungle. When you do, you heart it. You heart it hard.

This is really the only time you’ll actually see this…but practice anyway. it’s a good party trick for your friends back home.

 

Public Transportation—sure, the subways smell, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a bus stop that doesn’t double as a toilet for the homeless, but you can go anywhere, quickly, at any time of day, for under $5. Not to mention there is a world of amazing content to be created and discovered on New Yorks’s public transportation system.

The Open Air—is something we take for granted on the west coast. There’s just so much of it. There are only a few precious months in NYC when the weather is absolutely delicious. Go rooftop bar hopping. Visit the highline. There’s nothing like it.

now THAT’s a food truck!

Foodtopia—forget In N Out and fish tacos. Say hello to Dunkin Donuts, street meat, real pizza, real bagels, and real dirty water hot dogs. Try everything…but just say no to Sbarro. That’s not pizza.

The World is at Your Fingertips—or rather the tips of your toes. NYC is the epitome of a melting pot, and you can walk the world’s countries as easily as you can in Epcot Center (or hop them on the train). China Town, Little Italy, Little Tokyo, Spanish Harlem, Astoria. There’s SOOOO much culture to experience.

 

Go find your Sam Malone!

Where Everybody Knows Your Name—I’ve been trying to recreate this since moving to LA. You can’t. There is a sense of community in NY that I have yet to experience anywhere else. Once you get in your groove, you’ll start to notice that you see the same people at your train station every day, or at the coffee shop—at your favorite happy hour bars, or in your secret corner of the park. You’ll find yourself easily talking to strangers, because you feel like you know them because you see them every day. You’ll have a “spot” that you feel really belongs to you and people that you know not from high school, and not from work, but just from being around. You’ll miss the train together. You’ll share a cab. You’ll help each other get home after one too many drinks.

And in spite of what everyone says, you’ll be surprised to find that New Yorkers are some of the friendliest people you’ll meet. I couldn’t be more excited for you.

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Gyms

Annnd we’re back! Sometimes life takes over and leaves you in a position to prioritize. For the last few weeks, work has grabbed hold of the both of us, and likewise, we found refuge at the gym. As new members at our respective areas of exercise, we each encountered some version of personal empowerment and unsolicited support.

***

Melissa

I’ve never enjoyed going to the gym—a distaste that began as a young girl routinely picked last for kickball. Sacrificing recess to sing in the chorus, I was always more of an “artist” anyway…but alas, my young body would eventually change and, with puberty, my voice training and physical training weren’t interchangeable.

In my 20’s, working out was no longer avoidable. Because I wasted my compulsory gym hour in high school, and my free-form schedule during college (dancing on bars counts, right?), I would have to teach myself good habits. I had to opt in, both mentally and physically.

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I tried a string of gym formats, including the women’s gym—where I was yoga-molested mid-class by my spandex-wearing male instructor–but nothing stuck. Maybe it was that early gym-class rejection or the touchy-feely yogi that made me feel vulnerable.

Fast forward a few years, and a relocation from NY to LA, add in the sedentary LA lifestyle where a mid-day hustle is replaced by a car ride up the block, and I can no longer fit into my jeans. I can’t blame puberty or the freshman fifteen anymore.

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I just moved into an apartment complex with a free gym (SCORE!) leaving me 0 excuses for not getting back down to pre-In-N-Out weight. I had a girlfriend get me started and amazing personal trainer-turned-life coach convince me that I’m not trying to impress anyone and just getting my ass there is enough. Hell yeah! I’M GOING TO THE GYM!

But a success story this is not!

Month two and I’m feeling good about myself. I’ve mastered my best “don’t talk to me” face, I’ve figured out a routine, and I’ve created the perfect cardio/weights playlist. I’ve also discovered that 9pm is the magic hour, as the gym is practically deserted.

That didn’t last. I was approached late one Friday night.

While crunching my legs on the chair-leg-raiser machine, I was interrupted by a light touch on my arm. A man stacking approximately 4 feet 10 inches stood before me explaining that I was using the machine improperly. I took in this scene, still in shock at the physically touch of a silk-skinned stranger, when I noticed his 2-sizes-too-big jeans, cinched at the waist by a leather belt. I noticed the wrinkles around his eyes and on his fingers and recognized the familiarity of his touch was that of my grandmother. I was till absorbing as he told me about a 20-minute workout that would have me “toned in no time!” He offered to teach me how to work out. 😐

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I was mentally at war. One side of me thinking, “Please leave me the fuck alone,” the other thinking “Aw, if my grandma was at the gym, she’d touch/talk to strangers. I’d want someone to be nice to her.” So I let the conversation go as he weaseled personal details out of me. I let it go as he insisted that we be gym buddies and suggested I put his number in my phone. I followed his instruction as he told me to dial him now so he’d have my number too. I also let it go when he rubbed his hand up my arm, the arm I was pretty proud of, telling me he can teach me how to tone 😦

He pick-up artist-ed me. Big old grown up me got swindled by an old man at the gym. Even in his old age, he was able to take advantage of my stupid vulnerability. I growled at my personal disappointment as I walked home that night. At least the call didn’t go through.

Wrong. 11:30 pm, the texts start coming.

DAMMIT.

***

Kelly

“Ode to Women’s Gym”

Fat shorts from the Nike outlet: check.

Thanksgiving 5K walk t-shirt: check.

Inspirational rap playlist: check.

Racing through my mental checklist, I Tokyo-drift my Honda Civic into the Vons parking lot, park abruptly and speedwalk into my personal heaven that is the Women’s Gym.

I triumphantly greet the receptionist and sales woman who roped me into a membership (you saved me, Linda), breeze past women air punching their problems in Body Attack, and others using their newborns as weights (really, it’s a thing!). I enter the locker room full of half-dressed elderlies who confidently don’t care about anything. I can’t wait to be that happy to hang out in my underpants.

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Emerging from the locker room, I look around at my fellow women, baggy t-shirts and stretch pants abounding, and I know that these are my people. My ladies. We’re in an oasis void of seniors who have ‘committed their retirement to triathlons’ and meatheads who’s body grease is either gallons of sweat, or literally, grease. I spent years working as a pool manager at an unprogressive Family Fitness center, wasting a majority of the summer getting sun chaffed and teaching toddlers how to float. I miss nothing about the tea tree air cloud of the sauna hallway, nothing about the weight room that had more mirrors than a fun house.

The women’s gym is a haven where patrons come to trim the for-sale-sign arm flab into a tight Rolodex, thus continuing the collective goal of all women to animorph into Michelle Obama. We wear what we want. Heck, I saw a woman wearing jeans today. Jeans! Let’s face it; black stretchy workout pants are makeup for your thigh sacks. And you know what the Women’s Gym says? Let it all hang out.

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Getting home after a workday is synonymous with being blacked out; if work is alcohol, finally getting home is the sixth Irish Car Bomb. As long as the Women’s Gym sits strategically in the Von’s strip mall on my route home from work, I’ll still fit in my freshman year of college pants.

Getting Hired

We’re not in the thick of an economic crisis, but being at entry-level sure feels like it. Jobs are sparse. You keep getting rejected. Here are our failures and accomplishments at entry-level; keep the insight going and share your stories in the comments. Because let’s face it—we could all use some help at 22.

***

Kelly

No soothsayer can predict the sequence of events that will lead you to your first job.

Not the Wizard of Oz, not the fortune teller from that one Simpsons episode, not Zoltar, not your career counselor.

“Beware the ides of March” was coincidentally fitting  for me—almost a year ago, on March 11, I ditched my post-grad-dick-around-circus for a ‘career’—you know, the real kind. I felt odd describing it as a ‘real job’ to my grocery store coworkers. Some, like me, said, ‘Good for you! Get the hell out of here!” And others looked at me puzzled—offended, really—inquiring, “What do you mean real?”

Truthfully, the transition from grocer to careerist was hard. I gave up having weekdays to do things. And swearing at work. And not showering every day. And free cheese samples. But shelving my brainpower left me too much time to craft a perfect bagel sandwich and not enough time to write. So I stopped. I just…hung out. A lot. And after almost a quarter-century of pre-scheduled learning, it felt wonderful.

That’s not to say I wasn’t looking for something more serious. I would spend at least two hours a day on the job hunt, hurling 30 different versions of the same cover letter across the San Francisco Bay Area, my chosen land of opportunity. Nothing took, and I gave up.

So while the sequence of events that led me to getting hired a year ago was based on a preexisting relationship with a former boss (she sent me a Facebook message one day encouraging me to apply), I picked up a few pointers from my time interviewing at flash sale companies, ‘eclectic’ marketing groups, websites for Ebay collectors and Silicon Valley micro-startups.

First: don’t get discouraged. Most of my friends spent over six months looking for something—anything—whether or not it was in their field. And that’s OK, because society has granted us leeway to be the ringmaster of our own circus in our 20s, so that when we hit 30, we have a decent understanding of what we actually want.

That being said, you’ll probably apply for jobs that you’re not qualified for. I think I sent out a pompous, self-glorifying cover letter to Mountain Hardware for a social media position that I was at least five years away from being qualified for. No matter how you twist their job requirements (2-3 years of internship experience is the same thing, right?), you’ll get weeded. If entry-level’s in the title, that’s your green light.

Also, contracting jobs are a great place to start—the company gets to test you out, and you’ll get to see what it’s like to work 40+ hours a week—not as a lifeguard at the community pool, but as a real person! See? There I go again.

And when you’ve scoured every inch of Craigslist and had enough of checking Missed Connections in your downtime, hit up your network. Contact professors, friends, friends of parents and past employers. You’ll never know who has an opportunity that suits your level (or lack) of expertise.

So when you finally land an interview, please do me the favor of researching the company. I had the opportunity to work for a design magazine last summer, and blew it when the editor-in-chief asked me my favorite and least favorite things about the magazine, expecting me to dissect the last years’ worth of printed issues with tactical and scholarly feedback. Note to everyone: bullshitting your way through questions like these will make you look like an idiot. If you’re not sure or prepared, politely state so and save yourself a weeks’ worth of eye twitches and anxiety bowel issues.

Julias Caesar said that experience is the teacher of all things. At entry-level, you’re shit outta luck. But keep trying. If you’re confident, prepared and eager, you’re already halfway there.

***

Melissa

I remember applying for my first entry level position. It was back in 2003. Post 9-11, even with my double major in psychology/sociology and superior understanding of Microsoft Office suite, it felt near impossible to compete with corporate veterans also vying for a simple 9-5 in Manhattan. I spent my graduation money on the finest power suit the juniors department of JC Penney offered. I wasted my days searching careerbuilder.com and scanning the local Pennysaver ads for leads. Getting an in-person felt like a tremendous feat in itself, but interviewing was worse than reading my personal vagina monologue in front of my creative writing class sophomore year.

If I knew then what I know now…

Having been the first in my family to get a college degree, I didn’t know many people in the white collar world. This was before ask.com and Wikipedia, making Job Interviews for Dummies my greatest resource. I had to learn from experience.

Fast forward ten years later, and you’re in a much better position, and more so, now having had experience both interviewing and hiring for entry-level jobs, I can share with you what I’ve learned.

1-Your Resume

My first resume was fancy. Fancy as in full-on curly serif font with colorful decorative bullets. I was trying too hard. Don’t do this. Your resume should be polished and clean, with good punctuation, short clear bullets and a simple font.

What we’re really looking at—before even reviewing your experience— is your cover letter.

Invest in your cover letter. Combined with your resume, this is the first writing sample you will provide your new employer. Even if you’re not after a writing-heavy position, good communication is important in all aspects of business. You will be surprised how many communications you will be writing each day in the corporate world. If you’ve got spelling errors, poor sentence structure or irrelevant information in your cover letter (or if it seems pretentious or made up), your resume will most likely not make it past a recruiters inbox.

2-Interviewing

The best thing you can do to prepare is simply to do your research, and with social networks and sites like glassdoor.com, it’s far easier today to get the scoop on your future employer than it was when I was just starting out. Invest a bit of time in reading up on company culture. Look up your interviewers on LinkedIn. Maybe you know somebody who knows somebody who can tell you a little bit about the company/people you will be meeting with. Knowing the playing field will not only give you a bit of an advantage regarding common interests and conversation topics, but it will also put you a bit at ease knowing what to expect before you walk in the door.

Should you wear a suit? If you’re unsure, dress up. You will never lose points for putting in the extra effort. Like your resume, keep it clean and polished. You want your interviewer to remember what you said, not what you wore (or your lipstick).

3-Use Your Relationships

It certainly helps to know someone on the inside, so take advantage of your connections. Tap past internships or even your parents’ friends for a lead. Those relationships may not get you the job, but can help you fine tune your resume for the job you’re after, and give you the scoop on the company you’re after. An insider can also help get your resume through the first-round sift.

Having someone pass your resume along serves as an endorsement, so keep in mind that if this is your foot in the door, you should be prepared to repay that endorsement with solid work, should you score the job.

4-Chemistry

Probably the most important thing for me, when meeting a potential hire for my team, is chemistry. I want to know if you’re a good fit for both the team and for our company culture. Can you roll with the punches? What makes you flinch? What gets you energized? While having a good skill set may get your resume through, what will score you the position is chemistry.

As your manager, I will train you and teach you your job. I will show you everything you need to know to be successful, because that’s my job. Your job is to be a sponge, take the knowledge I impart on you and take it a step further—knock it out of the park. After being in the workforce for years, you can sniff that kind of ambition out in an interview. I’ll be watching for what makes you tick, what gets you excited, and what makes you lose interest.

5-Social Networks

Clean up your social networks. Run a google search and see what shows up on the first page. Check out the image search. Invest some time in your LinkedIn. I’m going to look you up, and I’m going to cross reference your resume and experience with what I learn about you online.

Some other quick tips:

  • Load your online resume with keywords—this will help you come up in more recruiter searches.
  • Make eye contact in your interviews—eye contact is a sign of confidence.
  • Be relentless, but don’t overstep—follow up on your resume, but don’t friend your interviewer on Facebook.
  • Ask good questions—ask about culture, about which teams your role would interface with. Asking questions shows that you are interested and engaged.
  • An interview is an opportunity to get to know more people. Even if you miss out on the position, that doesn’t mean the door is closed.
  • Know that you don’t know everything, and you’re not expected to.
  • Don’t be turned off by skype interviews. They’re common and painless. Just make sure you put on a good shirt and you’re sitting up straight—oh, and lock the cats in the bathroom before you hit connect!

Sick at Work

Being sick is the worst. Drown with us in the struggles of sniffles as we express ourselves through the use of GIFs. And this video.

***

Melissa

Last week was hell. My brain seemed to have forged a sinful pact with my respiratory system — “If you quit, I’ll quit.” And so it was done.

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I haven’t had to take antibiotics since moving to LA. One of the simple “facts of life” in New York:  winters are hard. With hard winters come fatigue, immune system depletion and lots and lots of germs looking for a warm home to set up shop and pedal devilish wares to unsuspecting body cells.

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I’m not going to pretend that being sick is any worse for me than it is for anyone. I have 30 years of shitty winters under my belt so this should have been a cake walk. But it wasn’t…

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For two weeks of misery, all I wanted was my mommy. I’m the needy kind of sick:

  • I’m the kind of patient who likes cuddles. I’ll knot myself around you and spread my germs all over your pillow.
  • I don’t like to be left alone, and I don’t like to just rest…I’ll get out of bed, do a lap around the apartment, fall asleep again on the couch until 2, then wake up desperately needing to just.get.out.
  • Watch a Girls marathon with me and commiserate as I mourn my lost youth in between coughs and nose blows?
  • I bobbed and weaved around my boyfriend’s dodging arms just because his cool skin felt amazing against my burning forehead.
  • Instead of sick days, I worked from home to keep busy. One bad decision leading to two couch-bound weekends.

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Luckily I wasn’t contagious.

On the days that I just couldn’t sit on the couch any longer, I’d haul ass into the office. I was disgusting. In spite of my mucusy mess of spewy nastiness, I kept reminding myself that this weakened state was part of my lifestyle just a few years ago. It was commonplace and expected that a working New Yorker would brave the grimy germ-infested subway to show face in the office unless on your deathbed.

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Maybe the easy-breezy life has gotten the best of me?

*****

Kelly

A fail-safe, quick and easy way to procure a personal deadline crisis: have a man sneeze near your open mouth in an airport.

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If you’re familiar with jobs, or work for that matter, you know that some deadlines can’t be pushed, even when a stranger sneezes at the same time you’re inhaling, thus transferring an incurable, devastating, classic cold.

Two days later. I’m sitting at my computer, wishing my core-strengthening exercise ball chair was a love sac and I was covered in a blanket made of cats.

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After forcing myself out of bed, I made a pour over using expensive small-batch craft-roasted coffee and can’t taste it.

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My skin pigment is that of someone with little to no melanin. My eyes burn with puffy rims the color of Red Skittles. I just want to throw everything off my desk and sob.

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And I’m on a very important deadline.

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Everyy 5-7 minutes, I’m interrupted by the cycle of sneezes, which happens as follows:

1) Make the sneezy face for 15 seconds, and inhale and exhale dramatically whilst my watery eyes bulge out of my face

2) ‘Cute’ sneeze so nobody thinks I’m disgusting.

3) Wipe my hands on my jeans.

4) Walk to the bathroom to wash my hands.

5) Come back, get a little work done, and relive the process minutes later.

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What I have to do: finish my work with excellence.

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What I want to do: Nyquil the day away.

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Lesson learned: wear a face mask at the airport.

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On Lipstick

 

We wanted to find a name for the blog that somehow encompassed us as a pair – two women at different stages in life, but who would totally dance side-by-side at a Grouplove concert. After a few Jane Austen plays on words, and even a clever reference to the movie Big, we landed on The Lipstick Controversy. You’ll see why.

*****

Kelly

The first time I wore lipstick without feeling like a hooker was a few months ago.

In my youth, I followed the natural progression of makeup failures: sappy lip gloss and glittery eyelids in middle school, spider-leg mascara in high school, and eyeliner thickening every day I got closer to getting my driver’s license. A sigh of relief likely hit my mother when I cleaned up in college, occasionally wearing a tasteful hint of eyeliner for a soiree, or some Cover Girl foundation to lessen my chin acne.

But lipstick was always a challenge – it had always been a historical signature of career women so far from my reality. If anything, my college friends and I would have made lip stain out of beet juice and then denounce it because Dead Heads don’t wear makeup. But now and then, I tried, painting it on and then viciously rubbing it off, turning my mouth into what looked like an oral herpes outbreak disaster zone. Following my lip line was like trying to color inside the lines while wearing a Band aid. Impossible.

So back in September, when I finally found a shade of burgundy that made my lips as dark as an eggplant, something felt different. As a woman who doesn’t wear too much makeup, lipstick had always felt like wearing a self-adhesive scarlet letter – as if my lip color somehow manipulated the words I was saying, or said something false about my identity. Like I had a visible reason to be judged.

But this shade finally felt right. I wasn’t a clown. I didn’t look like I just got caught under the mistletoe with the Kool Aid man. I felt confident. A little more sure of myself. Sassy.

I understood lipstick. And I loved it.

After college, you re-enter life at entry-level. It’s like being a high school freshman with less rules. Every minute is open season for failures and opportunities, not just from the hours of 8-3. So when you’re back at the bottom after climbing the social totem pole for eight years, having a little something—anything—that makes you feel a little more secure can’t hurt.

At work, I’ve been fortunate to work alongside ladies who sport careful shades of red for reasons of professionalism and creativity (and maybe to be a total badass). The rosy-lipped career woman I felt so distant from as a teen was now my stylish, confident colleague. She is now, effectively, me.

Lipstick doesn’t make you Superwoman, but hey, sometimes it feels like it does. And I say: roll with it.

*****

Melissa

I hate lipstick.

That’s a bit harsh and not entirely true. I harbor far less hatred for the actual product than I do for its thematic existence in my life. 10 years of professional experience has named lipstick the “Dumbo’s magic feather” of women in the work place.

Let me preface with the fact that I’ve always worked for women—very strong and successful one’s at that—so the continuing resurgence of lipstick as a professional tool is disappointing.

This topic instantly brings to mind a scene from Mad Men during which Joan and Peggy participate in a focus group for the new Avon account. Aware a team of men is watching through one-way glass, Joan seductively bends and curves in a tight-fitting red dress while naïve and lipstick-less Peggy innocently drops her ideas into the hands of the account execs.

During the scene, this dialogue occurs:

“They’re brainstorming.”

Laughing, “I wouldn’t expect more than a few sprinkles.”

Another manager, while watching women apply their lipstick through the glass, asks the room, “Anyone mind if I take off my pants?”

 

1. Lipstick was part of my uniform.

In true Mad Men fashion, my first job was at the front desk of a high-end fashion brand in NYC. I wrangled celebrities, helped set up the showroom, kept appointments with fashion writers and stylists and my uniform was the product (which I could never afford on my salary)—every girl’s dream right? Not mine.

I had just graduated with a double major in psychology and sociology focusing on gender and sexuality studies. So, you can imagine how a 21-year-old “feminist” from Long Island took it when she was told on by her FEMALE boss that she looked like shit and should go put on lipstick. In one of my prouder moments, in only the second week of my professional career, I gathered all my nerve and my belongings and did something I only wish I had the audacity to in the years that followed. I walked out.

2. Lipstick makes me feel powerful.

…Actual words spoken to me by another boss from positions past—the same woman who would insist that I button my dress shirts up to my neck. Enter my Dumbo’s magic feather theory.

I’m fully aware that this statement may brandish a rash of hateful comments, but lipstick, to me, does the complete opposite in the work place. It brings on the kind of attention I don’t want. The purpose of lipstick is to draw attention to the lips—a very sexual part of the body—and a slathering of Brandy Wine before a meeting begs your audience to focus more on your mouth than the value of your words.

Yes. Put yourself together before a presentation. Have a personal ego-amplifier; it’s totally the way to go. But, I can’t help but wonder if she would feel the same way about her lipstick if we didn’t work in a male dominated industry often referred to as a “boy’s club.” Perhaps men expect more than few sprinkles out of a woman’s mouth if said mouth is wearing Revlon Rum Raisin (that one’s all yours Don Draper).

3. And always wear lipstick.

I’ve heard this from women—strong women whom I admire—more times than I’d like to admit. Why oh why, oh rouge colored tube of feminine mouth stain, do you haunt me so!?! What is it about lipstick that seems to make these women feel so empowered?

I think, “always speak clearly, look your audience in the eye, don’t say uhm, and don’t bite your nails in a meeting” would be better advice to professional women today. Mastering those tiny skills has made me feel stronger and more confident than any beauty product ever could.

If you didn’t click the link above, that fondly recalled scene from Mad Men concludes with Peggy serving up a trash basket full of tissues, naming it a “basket full of kisses” and winning the account. No magic feather needed.