The Beauty of Red Lipstick


I have been an actress for more than 30 years. Throughout those 30 years, my beauty – or lack thereof – has been an issue that has plagued me.

I’m not “Hollywood” beautiful: blonde, big breasts, tiny waist, ridiculously long legs, elongated neck.

I’m not famous either.

I am a “working” actress – occasional supporting roles, mostly – and I have questioned this status every day by thinking, “If I could only be more beautiful, maybe I’d work more.”

What if my nose was smaller (yes, I had a nose job). Or my hair was lighter or thicker. Or my waist was thinner. If I was more beautiful in any number of ways, maybe I’d be a star.

But then I think, “Why even bother now? I’m a woman over 50, which basically means I’m invisible to casting directors and other decision-makers in my profession.”

Reframing Beauty

This beauty quest has been very sad at times, and, at other times really funny. And it’s one of the reasons I created The True Beauty Detective: to explore, examine and yes, to try to reframe the image of beauty.


There’s also my amazing daughter, Sasha, who turned 20 this past November. I’ve had the privilege of watching her grow up into a young woman. I have seen her friends grow up as well, and sometimes I have witnessed the negative effect our culture, with its emphasis on narrow, rarely attainable beauty ideals, has had on them.

And I realize, my beauty struggle is no longer just about me. The thought that my daughter would experience the level of insecurity that I have about how she looks makes me ache. It makes me ache to see how much pressure is put on women and girls to look a certain way.

Consider this scary fact: six out of 10 girls are so concerned with the way they look that they actually opt out of participating fully in daily life,  from going swimming and playing sports, to visiting the doctor, going to school or even just offering their opinions, according to “The Real Truth About Beauty: Revisited,” a Global Review commissioned by Dove (2010).  Or the statistic Dove came out with: Only 4 percent of women worldwide consider themselves beautiful.

How can this be?

Well, because we’ve been manipulated by advertisers; we are inundated with images of a beauty ideal; and it’s gotten out of hand. We’re seeing really radical digital plastic surgery. It’s moving toward the Barbie doll model of what a woman should look like — big breasts, tiny waist, ridiculously long legs, elongated neck. All the body fat is removed, all the wrinkles are removed, and the skin is smoothed out.

An unrealistic beauty image

It’s an image no one can live up to – not even the models themselves, because it isn’t real or sustainable in a healthy way. We are striving to look like these unattainable and impossible standards that are, by the way, set by men, because the advertising industry is a male-dominated industry.

And this pressure isn’t just limited to our culture – in cultures all over the world, the Western Beauty ideal is a huge influence, creating a $10 billion industry in skin lighteners and skin bleaching products in the US and Europe, according to an article in The Business of Fashion.

What Can We Do, Together?

So, how do we navigate this untenable situation and how can a web-series called the True Beauty Detective change the way we look at beauty?

By creating awareness. By exploring the issue. By engaging in robust discussion. By examining. By questioning. By education. By pushing and pushing for change.

We start by picking apart the false and narrow view of beauty that has been thrust upon us. We question it. We examine it. We start by honoring other versions of beauty that on first glance may not seem beautiful to us.

We begin by learning what other women have to say and we open ourselves up to other versions. Then and only then can we start to affect change.

I really feel we need to decide for ourselves what beauty really is, and advocate strongly for a more diverse view of it to save us and our daughters from further physical and psychological toll.

A Global View

You know, the scope of beauty in our world is so very immense and complex and should be influenced by so many more things than the Western Beauty Ideal.

There are global influences, including religion, history, culture and place. Wouldn’t it be glorious to have other versions of beauty to look to and understand rather than judge? Because truly, what is beautiful to a woman in Los Angeles might not be beautiful to a woman in Cairo, Egypt.

What looks beautiful to me, might look ugly or even offensive to you. I mean, you may hate my outfit and the fact that I wear red lipstick. But I just love red lipstick; it makes me feel beautiful.

After all, it’s my right to look however I want, isn’t it? Not only is it my right, it’s a way of expressing myself. Of saying to the world, “This is who I am…I am a reflection of my inner spirit…of what I believe in. I am a work of art.

And, yes, I love red lipstick."



True Beauty Detective is a movement and community dedicated to reframing beauty.

The mission of TBD, created by entrepreneur and actress Holly Fulger, is to celebrate the beauty of difference and create new and inclusive beauty ideals.Our goal is to portray women of diverse physical appearance, age, race, shape and size as role models and feature them in all of our content. We want to challenge existing beauty norms and make beauty inclusive, not exclusive.

Are you ready to #ReframeBeauty?