"I don't wear make-up!"
"Hahahaa. me too. I don't like the feeling of wax on my lips, no matter what people say. It's so easy for me to go out, just brush my hair, put on some powder on my face, and voila! I'm ready," replied my other friend.
I just smiled. Both Lydia and Gina are non-Muslims, yet they don't wear make-up. They have nice complexion. On the other hand, I've been so used to wearing some make-up (picked up the habit during college days) that I used to feel strange if I were to go out of the house without at least a light shade of lipstick. It took me a few months to get used to just putting on face powder before leaving the house, and leaving the lipstick on the table.
"Wah lao, cannot wear lipstick ahh.."
"What's PAS (political party ruling the state of Kelantan) trying to do? Turn women into puppets?"
I checked, not trusting the news published in the dailies.
True enough, my instinct proves me right. The local newspapers have tried to create mischief again (I stopped buying newspapers since general election). Claiming that the municipal council of Kota Bahru, Kelantan has issued the circular banning women employees from wearing lipstick and high heel shoes, without a copy of the circular printed beside the news, is quite naughty.
For those who read Malay, here's the true story: http://pas.org.my/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1197&Itemid=32.
Women have been told that they're not attractive women unless they wear a lipstick. Just look at the magazines, newspapers, and advertisements featuring young attractive women. Watch the advertisements on tv. Do we see a bare -faced healthy woman? Even if she's cooking in the kitchen or sweating at the gym, she'll be wearing a red lipstick. Even a little girl in nursery knows that the lipstick is applied on the lips. Just give her a lipstick to play with and you'd be surprised at how she puts it on her face, never mind that her own mother has never worn lipstick. The teachers, neighbours and mass media would have taught her about the lipstick.
For ages, cosmetics especially the lipstick has been used to make women look and feel good. It has a strong psychological effect on a woman, and its impact further strengthened through the mass media. Have you ever noticed how much money is actually thrown away purchasing the lipsticks which may cause cancer to some users?
Yet, I am not one who will throw away all my lipsticks into the dustbin, no matter what some religious Muslim sisters tell me. Nor am I somebody who will rush put to buy a new shade when it's on sale. No, I'm a normal woman who likes to look and feel good. I still like to dress up occasionally, even if it's only within the four walls of the home. On most days, I don't put on a lipstick, just a lip balm. I'd put on a light shade of pink when I'm feeling under the weather, so that I won't look too pale. Wearing a lipstick on such days is better than having to entertain numerous questions from concerned colleagues and students: "You look very pale today. Are you sick?"
Contrary to what many believe, the council did not issue the circular or invent the rules to control the women. The rules have been there for centuries, in the al-Quran (surah a-Nur) and Hadith. Muslim women are told how to act and be seen in public to saveguard their own modesty and good name, so why all the negative comments from a few Malay women (alas, they're also Muslims) as reported in the newspapers now? Requiring Muslim women to cover-up in public is not discrimination. It's meant to honour and protect women from disturbances of bad-intentioned males.
I've noticed many Malay women who like to wear bright-red lipstick colours, including those in the rural areas. I still can't figure out why they choose those bright cherry red or maroon lipcolour over the more subdued pinks and browns favoured by women of other races. Painting one's face with blues on the eyelids bright red on the lips, and pink on the cheeks is not my idea of beauty. The face is one's image to the world. Need Muslimahs paint their faces in such a way? Freedom of choice? Human rights?
"Honey, your paint is melting!"
I still remember my uncle telling his pretty wife on one hot afternoon.
One quick glance at her face and I giggled.
She looked terrible. Heavy make-up is really not suitable for Malaysian hot and humid weather.