Is ending sexual assault as simple as changing your lip color?
Is ending human trafficking as easy as changing your wardrobe?
No. (duh) But I think it can help.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I feel like every month is actually 13 different “special” months – just like every day has 3 uncelebrated holidays. National Donut Day?! Talk Like a Pirate Day? Wear Blue Socks with Black Shoes Day? Okay…. I made up the last one. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s really a thing. Consider yourself warned.
Since I hear about these made up holidays and made up months all the time, I kind of block them out. Hey, I’m all for [enter minority here] History Month and [enter illness here] Awareness Month, but who are you and why did you get to claim February? Why can’t I learn about your history or be aware of your side effects other parts of the year? Also, what forms did you fill out to become an official “month”? I just have so many questions.
So when I heard April was Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I didn’t get too excited. Let me be clear: Sexual assault is a big deal. I fully believe that we are, sadly, living in a rape culture. I fully believe that victims need more support; they need to know that they have a voice and their voice matters. More than that, they need to know if they choose to use their voice they will be listened to and cared for – not questioned, blamed, and shrugged off with “well, sounds like you were kind of asking for it”. I believe there is a reason about 60% of rapes go unreported. I believe all of this… but I also believe an awareness month typically doesn’t do much.
Then I heard about Red My Lips – a nonprofit who started a movement the month of April. Encouraging people to wear red lipstick every day of the month, to raise awareness of sexual assault and to show support to victims, #redmylips is international. Women and men (which I love!) are wearing bright red lipstick for a cause. They’ve also started #okay2share – asking people on social media permission before reposting their pictures. I thought this was strange at first – everything on the Internet is public, right? You don’t need to ask someone to click “retweet”. Their reason? “There’s no such thing as implied consent”. Let that sink in for a minute. Mic drop.
I found out about it on April 22nd and I joined in for the last 8 days of the month. Lipstick isn’t my favorite thing in the world, and red isn’t my go-to color. But movements against injustices is my thing, so I was a bit excited – regardless of the stains I left on every cup I touched or the lipstick that kept awkwardly ending up on my teeth (makeup is hard). I chose to not focus on the potential health hazards of eating the lipstick that ended up on my sandwiches or burritos every time I took a bite, because I was focused on the big picture. How cool that through something as small as your lip color, you can choose to make the world a better place?
Unless, of course, you’re sitting there with a smirk on your face, saying, “Krysti. Wearing lipstick isn’t doing anything. There’s still sexual assault going on. You aren’t fixing that. You really think your lip color is changing the world?”
Yes and no. No, my lips aren’t changing the whole entire world. No, the color of my lipstick isn’t going to stop the sexual assault that happens every 107 seconds in the US alone. But, YES, my choosing to take a stand for something is impacting the world around me. Me choosing to wear red lipstick for a mere 8 days in a row have made people say something – allowing me to explain why. Allowing me to explain what the month of April stands for, but more than that what it means to me. It gives me a platform to share my heart for the victims of sexual assault, because they’re my friends. And with 1 in 6 women being the victim of an attempted rape, they are probably your friends too. We just don’t talk about it. Awareness is spreading – albeit, slowly – but it’s awareness all the same. And that is thanks, in part, to my lipstick.
I’m not naïve enough to think I can save the world; though I’m passionate enough that I really, really want to. I believe that we each change the world, every day, with the choices we make. So why not choose red lipstick the month of April? Why not wear a dress everyday the month of December? Why not wear shoes that give back or buy shirts that help the homeless or jewelry that promotes equality for girls? Why not take little stands, here and there, against things that you aren’t okay with? I think if we all did, our world would be a very different place.
Sidenote: for those of you who nerd out like I do, and was genuinely curious about it, April is the “month” of 17 different causes. Seventeen!!