Applying Lipstick: A Personal Rebel Ritual.

Do you remember being a little girl and digging in your mother’s purse to find her lipstick?

You rummaged past her wallet and keys to unearth a treasure. You pulled that shiny metal tube from her bag and looked at it, a tiny gateway to a new realm you couldn’t yet understand. But you knew it gave her power.

You watched her, time and again, put it on in the rear view mirror of the car. She transformed, right before your eyes. When she opened the tube, it made a satisfying click, like she was unsheathing a sword or banging a gavel.

She would lift her chin to expose her lips, and slip into a moment of complete metamorphosis. When she started lining her mouth with that holy substance, the world seemed to slow down, her breathing became a zen-song.

She looked at herself for another second, made a small kissing motion and emerged as Wonder Woman, Cleopatra, Katharine Hepburn, and Joan of Arc all rolled into one.

Something changed in that small span of time, and all I knew was that it had something to do with lipstick.

Once I found the golden tube in her purse, I rushed to find a private mirror. Staring at my reflection, I would copy my mother’s movements, lifting my chin to expose my lips. I leaned towards the mirror to get a better view.

I tried to line my lips with the smooth movements that my mother employed, yet I couldn’t help but color outside the lines. It was then that my mother opened the door to the bathroom.

I stood there caught red-handed, looking at the woman I wanted to be, and immediately wiped my lips with my forearm, leaving a bright red streak toward my hand. She looked at me and held out her hand.

I put the top on the lipstick with a click, and put the case in her palm.

She smiled like a devil in in Rebel Rouge lipstick, and said, “Some day, little one… Some day.”

When I turned 13, my mother gave me my first tube. It was not red, but a blushing pink, the color of the sky, embarrassed by the night and marching into daytime. She told me I needed to work up to red tints.

“One does not simply begin wearing red lipstick at 13,” she quipped.

Over the years, I taught myself the secrets of lipstick.

Then I got married, and for a long time, I wasn’t able to wear lipstick without causing chaos. After my divorce, I was free to take a deep dive back into the mysterious ways of lipstick. But I was broke, living in a trailer park with my two kids.

I would pull myself up and go to the dollar-store to buy a cheap lipstick. I sat in the dollar-store parking lot and put it on in the rear view mirror.

It took me back to the moments watching my mother apply lipstick from the back seat of her car.

It reminded me of the power shift I saw in her, when she evolved from who she was into a new woman, with a straight spine and a beaming, confident smile.

The first time I put on lipstick after my divorce, I cried. Tears bloomed on my cheeks because I was returning to my power, remembering the strength of a kick-ass red lipstick.

Applying lipstick is a ritual for rebels. It’s a ritual that can transport you, again and again, to a place of empowerment, a place of vast past victories.

There is a term in hypnosis called anchoring. Essentially, it is an association between something you feel and some type of trigger, like a touch.

For example, a therapist would encourage the patient to think about a time when they felt a certain way, for instance, a calm place or a time when you were in control.

Once a person is in that state, they are instructed to create an anchor by touching a certain part of their body for five seconds, like pressing on the side of the knee or pressing two fingers together.

If the patient wants to go back to that state, they simply recreate the touch.

Think about it, when you apply lipstick, you are applying an anchor to an empowered state which is triggered, over and over, by applying lipstick. Every time you apply lipstick and feel empowered, you deepen this anchor state.

Picture this in your mind. You are preparing for your day. Your hair and makeup are done. You are dressed in a way that makes you feel powerful. You look through your lipstick collection and find the perfect shade.

You turn the tube around in your palm and read the snappy title on the bottom… Perfect.

You pull the lipstick free from its tube. You hear the satisfying click and your heart rate slows a few beats. You turn the base and the cylinder emerges from its secret hiding place, a rocket you climb onto and prepare for the ride.

You lean into the mirror and lift your chin a bit. And there it is, the first touch of lipstick to skin. Something inside you gives you permission to be the person you were meant to be.

Something inside you breathes life into your true self, your meta-woman. You line your lips with this magical substance, and you feel as though there are new possibilities forming.

You feel like your mother felt all those years ago in the rear view mirror.

A new woman.

You are anchored to all those times in the past when you applied a kick-ass red lipstick. You are anchored to you, in the best possible state.

Until tomorrow, when you will begin the ritual all over again.


CatCantrillAs a speaker, teacher, performer, and entrepreneur, Cat Cantrill has one mission: to empower women. Everything changed for Cat many years ago on a rainy night in a trailer park, defending her two kids against a drunk maniac. Since that time, she opened her own burlesque dance studio, and has gone on to become a successful lecturer, coach, and inspirational leader for her tribe of women. You could contact Cat via her website or Facebook.


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