Lipstick is the most treasured and essential item that women cannot live without, and the shade that has the most culturally staying power is red. But did you know that the colour has a rich history lavished in identity, freedom, and liberation?
Whether we want to embrace our sensuality, or want to make a bold statement at a holiday party, there’s a reason for our inclination to reach for red lipstick. We know that the words coming out of a beautifully lipsticked mouth are more fierce than one without.
During WWII, red lipstick became a patriotic duty when recruiting women to contribute to the war effort. When women were laboured to provide weapons to troops in munitions factories, they wore red lipstick to boost their sense of morale. In fact, because Adolf Hitler despised red lipstick, American women were encouraged to wear it in propaganda ads.
“Our society does not expect men to feel ashamed of pursuits considered generally male — sports cars, certain professional sports. A woman, on the other hand, is always aware of how a bright lipstick or a carefully-put-together outfit might very well make others assume her to be frivolous.”
-— Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of We Should All Be Feminists