Lipstick To Smash Gender Norms and Outlast Make-Outs

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lickmychopsglitter_CRed lips, pink lips, purple lips, black lips, frosted lips, glitter lips, shimmer lips, glossed lips, matte lips, satin lips and balmed lips! Lick My Chops is an mini series devoted to the wonderful world of lipstick. Stay tuned for tips and tricks on everything from low maintenance lips to pucker-proofing your make-out sessions, and a ton more. 

Lipstick Realness For All Genders

by Anita Dolce Vita 

I love my thick, full, voluptuous black lips. I love them naked, or with just a bit of lip balm to keep them protected from the elements. But I also think they make the perfect canvas for lipstick, from summer glosses with a tiny amount of shimmer that only my partner can notice when she is close enough to kiss my lips, to velvety rich, dark winter mattes that make my lips stand out in a crowded room. Wink. Snap. Pout. Lipstick! I live!

Anita Dolce Vita

Anita Dolce Vita

I didn’t always have this love affair with my lips…or with lipstick. From elementary school through graduate school, I was a racial minority at the academic institutions I attended. Starting at a young age, I was teased by my peers for being poor, for my “Brillo Pad” hair, and for having “n*gger lips,” among other things. I was ashamed of my lips. Until one day, while visiting my biological mother, I came across one of her makeup kits. It contained a palette of glosses in various shades. I mixed, I matched and I painted. I fell in love — and! I was proud.

Alas, I was only about 10 years old at the time and my grandmother, who was also my adoptive mother, wasn’t too keen on sending me to school looking like I just walked out of an episode of “Toddlers & Tiaras.” I remember counting pennies to purchase 99-cent Wet & Wild. I would take the tube to school, along with a washcloth and a bar of Ivory soap, apply some color before my first class, and then wash it off with my soapy rag before I got home. I no longer cared if the lipstick made my lips more noticeable or what my classmates thought about them. I was on an adventure.

Angelina Jolie in Gia

Angelina Jolie Pitt in Gia

Teasing turned to envy as I entered high school, when all of the popular cheerleaders coveted bigger lips to look like Angelina Jolie. By college, my painted pout once again became a focal point of criticism. I came out when I was a sophomore in college and at the time, and in my town, gender presentation in the lesbian community was primarily characterized by hard butch-femme binaries. There were no glitter-butches, glam-drogynous dykes, or anything else in between the masculine-feminine dichotomy.

Jenny Shimizu via Pages Digital

Jenny Shimizu via Pages Digital

Lipstick lesbians were thought of as weak; apolitical, inferior sell-outs. I quickly gravitated toward gay men. There seemed to be more diversity of gender expression in their community, from bears to drag queens, and muscle boys to fierce voguing divas. Criticism or not, I never stopped loving my lips or my lipstick realness!

Today (thankfully), especially in urban cities like New York, there is a movement away from the binary in queer communities. However, as the Creative Director and Editor-in-Chief for dapperQ, a style site for the unconventionally masculine, I still get inquiries from readers who are interested in exploring wearing lipstick but who are also afraid of being ridiculed for presenting in a more “feminine” way.

Majestic LeGay via House of Luxery

Majestic LeGay via House of Luxery

I always remind these readers that our struggle is about freedom, about choice. Conforming to the binary simply because “them’s the rules” is perpetuating gender norms set forth by the oppressive patriarchy. Brooklyn-based, gender-blending movement artist Goldie Peacock is one of the biggest dapperQ lipstick wearing role-models smashing said norms and I often refer readers to them for inspiration:

Goldie Peacock. Photo credit:

Goldie Peacock

“I used to wear lipstick on the daily as a teenager, and then I rejected it for awhile, sadly because of how other people perceived and treated me when I wore it. Certainly, some expressed their appreciation, but others ignored, (non-consensually) objectified, talked down to, hypersexualized or automatically treated me like I was high-maintenance before we even spoke. I felt ostracized by other non-femme-identified, GNC queers, including those I was dating. I worried that wearing lipstick barred me from the bois’ club. Now that I’m a little bit older and a lot wiser, I know who I am (which is a flamboyant, fluidly-gendered androgyne), and that identity cannot be made or broken by anything external, much less a tube of pigment.

I have once again embraced lipstick, upon the occasion. I think that the flourishing dandy culture of NYC has encouraged me, and many other queers, to incorporate all sorts of ornamentation into our lives, as opposed to shying away from certain adornments and labeling them “too this” or “too that.” It’s all fair game. As a performer, painting my face is a part of my lineage and there’s no good reason to leave the lips out of that ritual. Also: lipstick can look really fierce.” – Goldie Peacock

Bisou Breakdown

by Bevin

One of the most vexing parts of coming into my Femme identity was lipstick. Specifically, the problems posed by lipstick and making out! Now not all Femmes wear lipstick, and those who do don’t always associate it with their identity, but I do. I consider myself a red lipstick kind of Femme (MAC Russian Red too be specific). As a red lipstick kind of Femme who has been around the queer block a time or two, I have some advice about how to balance a bold shade while busting a move.


Be Strategic

If I’m going out on a date with a sweetie and I expect we’ll be regularly smooching, I’ll go for a gloss instead of lip color. If I go out on the town with someone, I’ll put my lip on when we get to the venue and, at the very latest, before any photographs are taken. Every time I fail to put on my lip before a photo, I regret it later. So I just do it and deal with it.


A couple of weeks ago, one of my masculine-of-center besties came up to me and Jacqueline at a party with the TELL of red lipstick all over her chin. We knew she had been making out with a girl and quickly went to the work of figuring out who it had been; that’s what happens when you just leap drunkenly into the abyss of a red lipstick make-out but don’t do the pre-game work!

With a little preparation all is not lost on a surprise dance party make-out.

When I perform I usually have the most intense lip situation, a secret I’m about to tell you now. Put on red lipstick, pretty much any shade. Do not blot. Then take loose red glitter and pat it on top of your lip. Voila! The most impressive glitter lips. I’ve been doing this for eight years and there are so many times I’ve made out (only after the show is over and the photos have all been taken) and I know it takes a solid five minutes of medium to heavy passionate making out for the glitter lipstick to be a memory. It just kind of disappears into the ether of queer lust.

Anything less than five minutes is a hot mess, like my bestie with the red lipstick femme at the dance party. In the interest of consent, I tell potential suitors and I’ve yet to have someone decline a make-out because of a five-minute time commitment. This timing threshold has worked for my red MAC lipsticks, too.


Be Prepared

Another party trick I have is to carry make up remover towelettes in my purse. One or two in a baggy and you can get the lipstick off in a jiffy. I was with my ex-sweetheart at a kink party where I had just performed a glitter spank demo. She looked visibly bummed when the glitter lips went on because that meant no smooching, but after the show I pulled out the wipes and she was so relieved!

Long Live Long Wear

This is a great solution. I find the colors available that are similar but not quite what I like (high-intensity reds aren’t the same on my lips as MAC). Revlon Color Stay is my go-to and it has survived HOURS of making out. It’s Courtney Trouble-certified — their official go-to porn lipstick, and I’ve actually had suitors be surprised my lipstick was still perfect after making out. It’s kind of a beautiful look of mystery in their eyes.

Sans Stick

Sephora’s creme color long wear is a great long-wear lipstick for everything except making out. I wore it through a meal, many beverages, but then when I made out with my sweetie it became a total mess (but it’s such a bold, perfect red that looks good on everyone that I still wear it and just don’t do it on nights when I might make-out).

OCC Lip Tar is also an incredible pigment but it’s like wearing honey on your lips. Definitely does not hold up in a make-out and doesn’t just disappear in five minutes. It’s a wild beast, use it sparingly to make a big impact. As a post-script to the making out with lipstick post, I want to point out that sometimes using lipstick strategically is a extremely sexy. A messy lipstick situation when administering oral pleasure on a dildo looks amazing and can be a huge turn-on. So is dotting a lover with your lip prints; I consider that Femme graffiti.

And if you’re convinced that red lipstick doesn’t look good on you, I encourage you to go to your local MAC counter and get outfitted with the right lip pencil/lipstick combo. I thought that because I had fair skin and red hair I couldn’t wear red lipstick because of a few casual tries with drugstore reds. It’s not true! I had to go to a MAC counter and they taught me about using a burnt sienna lip pencil to tone down the intensity of the red and somehow it looks amazing. Changed my life!

And that’s a Lick My Chops wrap, my friends. We hope you’ve enjoyed our guest writers and contributors for this series, as well as our recommendations and pro tips, and trust you’ll find us in the comments for any queries or tips you’d like to share with us. Thanks for reading about color, application, texture, and our delicate relationship with lipstick, for loving your low-maintenance lips and cosigning the BEST IDEA EVER for new LAZY FEMME merch, for embracing lipstick for all genders and making out with each other no matter what. We love you and wanna smudge-free air kiss-kiss forever!

Aja Aguirre is a perpetual late bloomer from SF who writes about style, fashion and beauty for Autostraddle. Her award-nominated style blog, Fit for a Femme, takes on both coasts' signature styles and draws on her experience as a personal stylist. Check out Instagram for her latest looks, and Twitter or Tumblr for QPOC Speakeasy x Femme Power vibes.

Aja has written 45 articles for us.


  1. I had a totally different experience with OCC lip tar. I put a little on a brush and found that it stayed on forever, felt comfortable, and was nothing at all like honey. Maybe it’s a difference of lip skin absorption rates or method of application, but I would like to say to the world: lip tar is amazing.

  2. yes this was excellent! although i do love it when someone’s face is covered in lipstick after i’ve made out with them, it is very handy to know about ways of preventing the lipstick-bomb from happening.

  3. When I was coming out butch/femme was out. It was something I had heard that dykes did in the 1950s and earlier. But in the 1970s, white lesbians had decided that butch/femme was an oppressive replication of heteronormativity and had thrown it to the wayside. By the time I was coming out in a suburban town in the late 1990s, there was only room for some middle of the road androgyny that was supposed to be your natural state, free of oppression. Femme women were understood to be “straight” women with whom the actual dykes (anyone androgynous or masculine of center) were sometimes hooking up. I had heard that butch/femme was still popular in communities of color, but coming out in a racially-isolated, white community, I had no contact with those women. Ironically, in this middle-of-the-road, supposedly free-of-oppression place, there was no room for me. I experienced massive gender confusion, as I tried to find my place as a dyke who was not androgynous and not masculine-of-center.

    I later moved to an urban center, where the scene was intensely butch/femme. I understand that butch/femme doesn’t work for everyone, and it left a lot of people feeling left out or confused, but for me it was a revelation. It meant that I could be who I was and be seen as a dyke. It meant that I could date the butches whom I thought were hot and that they also would see me as hot. It meant that I felt comfortable and seen for the first time in my life.

    Now, where I live, butch/femme is out again. What’s in where I live, and amongst those a generation below mine, is a genderblending attempt to stretch the rules to make room for more people (yay!) and other genderfucking in an attempt to break the oppressive structure of the gender binary (cool). What is called genderqueer now looks a lot like the androgyny I saw coming out in the 1990s (but with more glitter and lipstick and some big twists in the ideology backing up what people are doing).

    A lot of the women who are feminine-of-center now seem to be dating each other and having little contact with the gender-radicals. And butch/femme again seems to be considered outdated and somehow connected to something oppressive. For me, this means, that after over a decade of being seen as obviously queer by my community, masculine-of-center people have recently started asking me again (while in queer spaces) if I am straight.

    It seems that different gender expressions are popular at different times in history. And whatever is popular at the time, leaves other people out in the cold. I feel bad for the people who experienced butch/femme as too constraining, and I’m glad that they’re finding more room for themselves now. But for my sake and for the sake of all the would-be butches and femmes out there, I hope it someday gets to have some space again.

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