Red Lipstick Is a Movement
Wearing lipstick started off in Ancient Egypt as a status of royalty and a sign of wealth. The power of wearing the color red on the lips made its statement into politics when some countries only allowed certain individuals to wear red lipstick. For centuries women were taunted, harassed & over sexualized by men for wearing red lipstick. Some even burned at the stake claiming its effects contained witchcraft. There was a stigma that began to cultivate taking power over women and controlling their interest or ability to wear lipstick. In the early 400's -1400AD, women were banned from wearing lipstick because it was deemed “Challenging Gods work”. The color of lipstick had enough power to cause separation of women by placing them into different classes. This segregation helped identify them as prostitutes if they wore red, or middle class by wearing the color pink and lower class by wearing neutral or copper tones.
It was not until the 1900's when women stepped away from crushing red berries on their lips or using clay pot dyes for color. The popular fashion trend declared that lipstick must be a staple in every woman’s beauty regime. This message was later called "The lipstick effect" a term used to describe why some people purchased non-essential items to lift their moods during the time of economic depression.
So how did this all get political? During the war, salesmen distributed politically charged ads displaying women and their sexuality labelling some bright, bold red lipsticks as "Victory Red", which in turn, kept women feeling they must make it their civil duty to keep up with the ongoing beauty standards. During the disco 70's era, red lipstick took a back seat and neutral, nude color lipsticks became the forefront of the cosmetic world. The classic red lip yet again made a come back from celebrity signature looks like Madonna, Gwen Stefani and Taylor Swift.
Today red lipstick still gives us a jolt of confidence, but the muted undertones of the concept remain silently political because racial discrimination still exists. Caucasian women wearing red lipstick are seen as classy or polished yet for Latina women or other ethnic minorities it is too loud and over sexualized. The 2SLGBTQ+ community encounter stigma for wearing red all together.
Red lipstick today can make a bold political statement, whether it is to show solidarity against violence, or standing up for equal rights. In every bold defining moment and movement, the legacy of red lipstick lives on.