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Recap: Red Lips Project

My senior quote in high school was from Amy Poehler. She said, “I just love bossy women. I could be around them all day. To me, bossy is not a pejorative term at all. It means somebody’s passionate and engaged and ambitious and doesn’t mind leading.” I’ve always found myself drawn to women as friends and mentors who are loud, demanding, and know exactly what they want, but at the same time are generous, compassionate, and warm. When our Events Director Grace pitched the event idea for the Red Lips Project I instantly fell in love. I feel like women often hear subliminal messages that being powerful is for men and that if we, as women, want to get anywhere in our lives, professionally, personally, romantically, or otherwise, that it’s best for us to just sit back and be hopeful that good things will come our way instead of being powerful.

Pictured: Myself with our beautiful Events Director Grace Cassidy, the definintion of strong female friend

Rashida Jones said in an interview with Man Repeller, that she wears lipstick because she feels like she is asking to be seen. That is exactly what I wanted the event to be for women on American’s campus. I wanted to create a place where our women could shine. I feel like young women are in constant competition with each other for the internship, the grades, the new job, even the attention from a guy. This competition is what is disempowering women, instead of helping our fellow women we are tearing each other down to move up some ladder or another. My hopes for the Red Lips Project were that this event would be a safe space where women could be completely honest about what makes them feel powerful, and that they could wear a reminder of this on their lips all day. My hopes were far exceeded when girls started to tell us things that made them feel powerful were “asking guys on the first date,” “owning my sexuality,” and “knowledge through education.” It was such a beautiful circle of empowerment. The whole event for me was summed up in one moment when I watched the organizer of the event Grace help our uber-dedicated Editor-in-Chief Claire put on her lipstick. That’s what the event was all about- strong women reminding other strong women how powerful they truly are.

Walking from class to class seeing dozens of women in red lipstick, felt like a constant reminder that “we’re all in this together.” Through the project I wanted American women to know that being a woman is nothing to be ashamed of. I feel like American University has the most unique population of college women in the country. We have passionate feminists who fight for equality across the gender perspective. We have strong athletes who aren’t embarrassed about being strong. We have women who are making a name in fields previously dominated by men, like the sciences and business. We have women who are passionate about sharing their story through activism, art, teaching, and editorial writing. Trust me, I’m lucky enough to edit articles from more than 50 girls a week for Her Campus that have no problem telling our readers what they love, what they hate, what they’re not going to put up with anymore, as well as what makes them powerful.

By the end of the day, I was overwhelmed by all the things in my life that make me feel powerful: strong female friendship, poetry, taking care of myself, getting my education, sharing my passions, feeling beautiful, having a diverse circle of women for advice and mentoring, my wonderful Her Campus American team, and of course red lipstick. 

Photo Credits to Her Campus American Staff and AU Photo Collective

Mikala Rempe is a sophomore at American University in Washington, D.C., originally from Omaha, Nebraska. She is a literature major with a minor in creative writing. In addition to writing for Her Campus, Mikala is on staff for the AmLit, AU’s premiere literary arts magazine. In her free time she loves to read, and cook. She spends most of her days accidentally spilling coffee on her own poetry. She hopes this isn't a metaphor.
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