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Ruby Rose Talks Gender Norms, Tramp Stamps, and the Trouble With Red Lipstick

Photo: Urban Decay

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Yesterday evening, dozens of beauty editors and bloggers filed into a clubby Brooklyn event space for a Q&A between Urban Decay founder Wende Zomnir and actress/activist/"airport style" critic Ruby Rose, the brand’s new celebrity ambassador. The partnership between the edgy cosmetics company and the stunning, heavily-tattooed Orange Is the New Black breakout star seems fated — both prize individuality over conforming to societal beauty standards, and are particularly passionate about animal rights. And over the course of Zomnir and Rose’s 45-minute chat, the two hinted that the actress’ recent campaign for UD is just the beginning — yes, you can expect a Ruby Rose-created lipstick (among other products, presumably) down the line. Below, the best bits from the gender-fluid beauty’s Q&A, from the story behind her first tattoo to why she’s cautious when it comes to red lipstick.

On gender norms and her past experience with bullying: "People would always say to me — because I have short hair, because I don’t dress very feminine — they’d ask, ‘Why do you make yourself so ugly? Why do you make yourself look like a boy? You could be really beautiful!’ And I’d be like, ‘Thanks — I think?’ But the truth is, I feel the sexiest, the most alive, the most like myself, when I’m natural."

On her relationship with lipstick: "When I’m in a girly mood — which, surprisingly, does happen! — it makes me feel more put-together and polished. It doesn’t make me feel like a different person or anything — just like I’m paying homage to a different part of me. I’ll love red lips for a big occasion, but I’m always worried I’ll get lipstick on my teeth. Anytime I’m at an event where I have to speak, I skip it. If I just have to smile and pose, though, it’s red lips for days."

On her famously full brows, which weren’t always so full: "My mum tried [to convince me not to pluck them], but there’s only so much you can do when your daughter is obsessed with Christina Aguilera. I’m pretty sure that at one time, [Christina] didn’t even have eyebrows — just one single hair that was, like, gelled down. So, I shaved my eyebrows — and when I couldn’t get the precision I want, I tweezed them. I looked like a Ninja Turtle. Luckily, some miraculous eyebrow god gave me my brows back so I could live a normal life. I thank Eyebrow Jesus every day."

On her first tattoo: "I got it when I was 16. I’d spent some time living abroad in Germany, and I got a tongue ring — because that’s what everyone was doing in Germany at the time — and I got home and my mum had such an issue with it. She said that she’d let me get a tattoo if I got rid of it, and that to me sounded like a great idea. I don’t think she realized that, 70 tattoos later, she probably should’ve just let me keep the tongue ring! It’s a tramp stamp, on my lower back — a rose with some Celtic design I thought was so original at the time. Now, people tell me, ‘Oh, my mum has that!’ ‘My grandmum has that!’"

On her favorite of her over-60 tattoos: "I have "Be the person your dog thinks you are," which I love. And I have a Basquiat tattoo — it’s the last one I got — because I’m such a big fan. He’s such an inspiration to me, and just really timeless. And my Ninja Turtle — also timeless!"

On creating her own lipstick color for Urban Decay: "I’m really excited about it — especially because my name lends itself well to a lipstick, right? But since you guys have 100 shades already, coming up with my own is going to be like a mathematical equation."

Photo: Urban Decay