Ms. Mantissa and the Russian Red

After reading the Man-Shopper’s musings on red lipstick, I decided to give Red Hot a try on a night out.  It was something of a last-minute impulse as I was heading out the door, so I unfortunately didn’t have time to change my clothes in accordance with the “Parisian queenbitch-vixen” look.  In fact, I was probably pretty far from the parisienne as depicted in her Ms. Russian Red post.  Imagine:

  • No swooshed fringe.  Probably some flyaways.
  • No cigarette.
  • By-no-means-skinny jeans (blue, not black)
  • Legs with flesh on them
  • Fitted black top (if I’ve got shape, why hide it behind a shapeless tunic?).
  • Rockin’ brown heels.

However, I did have the following:

  • Non-smiling red pucker
  • No cleavage showing

Did I have the right attitude?

  • I’m not half-starved.
  • I wasn’t wearing a kick-ass matching lingerie set.  I don’t even own one.  In fact, I think I was in desperate need of doing laundry and was on my last pair of knickers (and no, I won’t tell you what pattern is on them).
  • But hey — I still OWN the sidewalk.

Regardless, the Man-Shopper’s theory is that the red lipstick defines the queenbitch-vixen image, thus mesmerizing the men and empowering the pouter.  If this theory is true, it shouldn’t matter what the rest of me looks like–the color of my lips should bamboozle the senses and render men powerless against me!

So what happened after walking into the club with the reddest lips in town?  Firstly, I had to wait in line to get to the actual dancing.  Behind men.  Who turned around and saw me and were in no way hypnotized by my crimson kisser.  I was willing to attribute this to the dim lighting of the foyer, which made all colors indistinguishable.

Once we were on the dance floor, I made absolutely sure not to smile in order to maximize the effect of the pouty red lip, eliciting multiple comments from my friends about my serious dancing face.  But in the interests of science, I merely shrugged and tried to channel my inner Parisian vixen.

As the night progressed, some of my girlfriends began pairing off with strange men.  They did not have red lipstick.  No man so much as looked twice at me or my lips.  One guy did invade my dance space a couple times, but that could have been because he was too busy making out with some blonde chick to pay attention to where he was dancing.

At this point, my friends abandoned their new men-friends, and we removed ourselves to the rooftop bar to rest and cool down.  I was starting to get very frustrated.  Why wasn’t the red lip working?  Had the Man-Shopper failed me?

But wait!  Were those three men sneaking glances at us?  Lo and behold, one of them sidled on over to us!

Unfortunately, he was drunker than pink elephants on parade.  The conversation started something like this:

Him : “D’you wanna hear a story?”

Friends : <shrug>

Me : “That depends.  Is it a good story?”

Him : Silence.  “I dunno.  It’s all, well….subjective.”

Me : “If you don’t think it’s a good story, how are we supposed to think it’s a good story?”

Him : “It’s, uh, subjective.  Y’know, an opinion.”

I was about to add that I was asking for his opinion on his story, but he interrupted and began telling the story anyway.  He had just gotten a new bike with the clip-in pedals and was biking down U Street when all of a sudden, he had to stop at an intersection.  So he braked, and since his feet were clipped in to his pedals, he fell over.  And of course it was necessary to mime this fall as a cheap way of initiating physical contact with my (non-lipsticked) friend.

That was it.  It was not a good story.  AND, he showed no sign of being bedazzled by the red lip.  Neither did his friends when they sauntered over.  They were much more interested in the lovely ladies next to me, who at least had the good manners to put on fake smiles.  If I wasn’t shooting full-fledged glares, there were certainly some withering looks sent their way.  Thankfully, we left pretty soon after that encounter, and I was able nurse my erstwhile red lips’ wounded pride at home, curled up in bed with my hot water bottle.

So the final score for the night:

Red lipstick: 0 men

No lipstick: ≥ 4 men

What does that say about the power of red lipstick?  There are a number of possible conclusions:

  1. The Man-Shopper’s red lipstick theory is false, and you need the rest of the Parisian bitch-vixen look for red lipstick to be effective.
  2. Red lipstick only enchants Parisian men and not American men.
  3. These men are outliers.  Not enough data.
  4. There is something wrong with me.  I am repulsive to all men.
  5. Some option not yet considered.

Given these options, I’m inclined to go with option 3.  If anyone else has any red lipstick data — in Paris or otherwise — I urge you to share your results.  In the meantime, I fully intend to do more research.

Reporting from the American East Coast,

Ms. Mantissa


Filed under Misses

6 responses to “Ms. Mantissa and the Russian Red

  1. Yeah, I’m going with #3, too.

    I like red lipstick. I would have told a boring, drunken, rambling story but fake-mimed my excuse for physical contact to you instead of the rest of your flock.

    But really… attention from me might have put you at -1, so it’s probably all for the best.


  2. #5: I was under the impression that red lipstick isn’t an option until you reach the age of 30….

    Maybe you’re too young to pull of the red lipstick… ? 🙂

    ((And I would let the lingerie thing slide if they at least coordinated a bit… ))

  3. #5: American men are kind of dumb. In clubs. And maybe also drunk.

    No offense, American men. Really, I’m just going on experience. And my fantasy that French men are not like American men.

    PS I also say #3. I think red lipstick is pretty much hot.

  4. i wear red lipstick almost every single day.
    with matching lingerie sets.
    and i am still single.

    however, the men i do date have always commented on how they think my red lips are in fact “hot”.

    so, i go with no. 3 also rock the crimson lips for you! not them.

  5. Hmm…I never wear red lipstick anymore. I feel I should do some west coast research & report back.

  6. C.J.

    The following comments are from 2 people:
    -don’t forget that you are the shopper! You should just look for what you want! Don’t worry so much about your appearance, which will eventually turns you into a product for Parisian men!!!!!
    -I feel like you are a lovely person. You just haven’t met the right guy for you yet. Just be yourself and the goods ones will naturally come to you. If you are really desperate, i guess you can always try some online dating website. Then you can screen for better candidates.

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