Share Your Thoughts

At a recent press conference, where the subject under discussion was her husband’s relationship to his iPhone, Indian-Pakistani-Saudi-Arabian-American, Huma Abedin, wearing a flaccid voice and a crimson shade on her lips, announced: “I love him. I have forgiven him. I believe in him. And, as we have said from the beginning, we are moving forward.”

This is the stuff of long-suffering Bollywood heroines. Right down to her good looks, her trendy designer outfits, her standing-by-her-spouse-no-matter-how-disgusting-his-conduct and her brightened lips.

In the inspired words of New York magazine journalist Mark Jacobson, describing his impression of Huma Abedin: “She wore bright-red lipstick, which gave her lips a 3-D look, her brown eyes were pools of empathy evolved through a thousand generations of what was good and decent in the history of the human race.” Rohit Shetty, are you listening?

A study conducted by Adam D. Pazda and others, found that “wearing red may be a double-edged sword for women, on the one hand making them appear more attractive, but on the other hand making them appear more sexually available.” The study, however, focused more on the effect of women wearing red on men rather than on the women themselves.

When I was growing up, red was considered a carnal color and not quite appropriate. Times have changed and these days we tend to derive solace from unlikely gadgets. “Red lipstick is a source of strength. You put it on and suddenly you feel more capable than you did without it,” said Poppy King, creator of Lipstick Queen.

As a vulnerable, possibly unwitting, participant in a political thriller that is her life, the red of Huma’s lips more than likely signals her need for a sense of control.

First, her husband resigns from Congress after a sexting scandal. Soon after Michele Bachmann (R-Minn) accuses her of being a Muslim Brotherhood infiltrator. Then her husband screws up again. And now, in a bizarre fractal iteration, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is casting doubt on the integrity of her work as a consultant, while employed at the State Department. Politics is a strange bed-fellow, no doubt.

In Huma’s case, her red lips seem almost defiantly self-confident. You have to admire the mettle of a woman who wakes up to more bad news every day, yet determinedly traces her lips with a filament of vibrancy. So what if she uses red as her crutch?

Jaya Padmanabhan

Jaya Padmanabhan is editor emeritus, contributing writer, and board member of India Currents. She is a veteran journalist, essayist, and fiction writer with over 250 published articles and short stories....