Student helped empower her high school with the Red Lip Project

Mary Shaw hopes to bring this event to our university soon.

More stories from Bri Hageman


Mary Shaw and two friends gather during the Red Lip Project to show off what empowers them most.

First-year student Mary Shaw brought people together in her hometown last year with an event called the Red Lip Project.

In high school Shaw was co-president of a women’s empowerment club called SHE. After learning about the event online from other people who hosted the Red Lip Project Shaw brought the idea to her student board to discuss it with a few teachers. After that, the principal approved the idea and signed the necessary papers to hold it in the school.

The goal was to hold an event that would bring genders closer together in their community, while raising awareness for women empowerment, Shaw said.

The event asked everyone to wear lipstick to school the day before Valentine’s day. With the help of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Shaw and others got the word around for the big event. When the day came, students with red lips would write what empowers them on a sign and have their picture taken with it. Male students wrote which women in their lives empowered them.

This event got a lot of response, but to ensure even more participants, Shaw said she bought different types of lipsticks to match different skin tones and set up a booth in the cafeteria during lunch. That way students who weren’t already wearing lipstick could pick out their shade at the booth.

“It is a really cool way to empower women for how they love themselves and not finding love in other people,” Shaw said.

As a member of the club UWEC College Feminists on campus, Shaw said she has not yet brought the idea to the organization. However, she said she would love to because it could bring people together.

“I’ve been thinking of doing it here, and I probably will really soon.” Shaw said.

At that time, Shaw didn’t know the Red Lip Project was much bigger than a post on Tumblr. It’s a campaign all around the world to empower women, while also raising awareness for sexual harassment. The campaign urges people to wear red lipstick the entire month of April to raise awareness.

If she holds the event on campus Shaw said she would raise awareness for all the goals of the campaign.