After more than a year of struggle, heartbreak, and uncertainty, we all deserve to have things go a colorful way. That said, it is an interesting time to be alive and be able to capture even the smallest differences that can deflect our attention from the morbid occurrences. With pain and despair somewhat behind us, it is women who have emerged stronger than men in coming out of their masked existence. They have made it clear that their lips cannot remain hidden for long.
Resurgence in lipstick sales in recent times is clear evidence that the lips have outlived being out of sight for all that the masked world has currently been through. It is good news for the other half too, the lips covered with color and gloss make for a pleasant site. Who would have thought that the little stick can stand the tallest storm? Like it had bounced back during the Great Depression of the 1930's, lipstick has stood the test of time during the ongoing Corona Pandemic too.
Currently worth $34 million, lipstick sales in the US are close to where they were during the pre-pandemic quarter. Although the annual lipstick business in India is still behind its pre-pandemic high of $58 million, market trends indicate that demand is beginning to look up. One might wonder when the economy has literally been masked should the revival of lipstick business merit any attention? And, should I be bothering you with lipstick sales when many are still not out of the woods?
Mark my words, this small-yet-affordable look-good luxury item is more than sheer color and gloss. It is an indicator that reflects how one half of the society comforts itself during social and economic calamities, however, without causing any discomfort to the other half. Curiously, under economic duress lipstick sales begin to look up as no woman spends money on what she can ill-afford. Even before anyone notices it in the household, lipstick tops the list of affordable feel-good groceries.
Interestingly, there is an unconventional economic logic to it. It is called Lipstick Index, coined by businessman Leonard Lauder in 2001, which is a measure of how women spend money during hard times. Contentious as it may be, this index has stood as a measure of consumers' less expensive indulgences when they do not feel confident about the economic future. So, this is what makes designer dresses continue to stay on shop racks while lipstick goes out for a walk.
All said, the lipstick index can reflect only a part of the story. Without reading the lips one cannot get hold of the complete story. While there may be mixed feelings among women - ranging from exhilaration of brightening the face yet again; to sheer annoyance of getting to wear it after a long while; and finally avoidance of staying under the mask - there is little denying that lipstick has come to symbolize women’s dreams, desires and freedom. What better one could have ever bargained for?
Colored lips are a narrative device, acting like an extension of a woman's mind. However, women rarely tell what they stand to achieve through colored lips but it is perhaps this desperation to express herself that drives women to buy themselves a pick-me-up for whatever little savings they hold, which is a nice treat with a feel-good feeling for themselves and for the rest of us too. As I understand, lipstick, be it under the burqa or a mask, symbolizes an undisputed power of expression and assertion. Colored lips are forever.