Often lipstick is the first cosmetic that an adolescent girl is allowed to wear, usually in the form of a sheer gloss. Eventually it becomes part of many a woman's "uniform," to the point where she feels somehow incomplete or unfinished if she doesn't put it on. In fact, lipstick is most likely to be the only type of makeup worn if there's not the time or the desire to put on anything else. Lipstick does serve a purpose beyond looking pretty -- many of them do condition and protect the fragile skin on the lips. But other than its looks, why do women wear lipstick?
One theory is that it emphasizes a woman's sexuality. By amping up the color of the lips, a woman is subconsciously echoing the color of her vaginal lips, or labia, in an effort attract attention from men. Another theory points out that young girls' lips are generally brighter in color than older women's, so women apply lipstick in an effort to appear younger and more attractive. Some researchers take this idea a step further and believe that using lipstick marks a desire to return to an infantile "rosebud mouth." Perhaps in response to these theories, some women refuse to wear lipstick because they consider it a patriarchal trap.
However, wearing lipstick can also be very empowering for women. When it still wasn't generally considered "nice" for women to wear lipstick, women during the suffrage movement in the late 1890s and early 1900s wore it to defy the norm. The 1980s power-suit-wearing woman sometimes considered her lipstick as part of her armor as she struggled to make her way in the male-dominated corporate world. Today, women in patriarchal societies and those under religious law such as Iran are forbidden to wear lipstick.
For more on women, getting out lipstick stains and special-effects makeup, we've got links to articles you'll like below.
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- Angeloglou, Maggie. "A History of Make-up." London: The Macmillan Company, 1970.
- Channel 4 Television. "Because You're Worth It: 100 Years of Makeup." Channel 4. 2009.http://www.channel4.com/life/microsites/M/make_up/power.html
- Cole, Bethan. "Kiss of death: Black lipstick but not everyone is a fan." The Independent. September 25, 2008.http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/features/kiss-of-death-black-lipstick-but-not-everyone-is-a-fan-941300.html
- Foltz-Gray, Dorothy. "Lipstick: A love story." Health. September 1996, Vol. 10, Issue 5.
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- Foundation for Science Technology and Civilisation (FSTC). "Muslim Contribution to Cosmetics." MuslimHeritage.com. May 20, 2003.http://muslimheritage.com/topics/default.cfm?ArticleID=364
- Grantham, Lorreta. "Lipstick: A History Glossed Over." Palm Beach Post, December 12, 1998. 1D. Business Dateline. ProQuest.http://www.proquest.com
- Guerlain. "Guerlain's $62,000 KissKiss Gold and Diamonds Lipstick." PR Newswire. November 8, 2007.http://prnwire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=ind_focus.story&STORY=/www/story/11-08-2007/0004700703&EDATE=THU+Nov+08+2007,+06:00+AM
- Guthrie, Dale R. "Automimicry: Big Boobs, Ruby Lips and Pendulous Noses." Body Hot Spots: The Anatomy of Human Social Organs and Behavior. Litton Educational Publication, 1976.http://employees.csbsju.edu/lmealey/hotspots/Chapter13.htm
- Henderson, Diedtra. "Proposal aimed at reducing mad cow risk in human, animal drugs." AP Online. September 22, 2004.
- Johnson, Rita. "What's That Stuff?: Lipstick." Chemical & Engineering News. July 12, 1999. Volume 77, Number 28.http://pubs.acs.org/cen/whatstuff/stuff/7728scit2.html
- Jolique. "The Evils of Artifice: Cosmetic Use in Europe from the Baroque Age to the Victorian Age." Jolique: Exploring Dress and Culture. October 15, 1999.http://www.jolique.com/general_interest/evils_of_artifice.htm
- Lesley, Vicki. "The homemade homemaker: ethical lipstick." Guardian News and Media Limited. October 28, 2007.http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/oct/29/ethicalliving.lifeandhealth
- Mikkelson, Barbara and David. "Easily Lead." Snopes.com. November 12, 2008.http://www.snopes.com/medical/toxins/lipstick.asp
- Morris, Desmond. "Chapter 8: The Lips." The Naked Woman. London: St. Martin's Griffin. February 20, 2007.
- Pallingston, Jessica. "Lipstick: A Celebration of the World's Favorite Cosmetic." New York: St. Martin's Press, December 15, 1998.
- Ragas, Meg Cohen, and Karen Kozlowski. "Read My Lips: A Cultural History of Lipstick." San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Press, 1998.
- Ricks, Delthia. "FDA: Food Makers to Acknowledge Bug-Based Additives." WPIX News. January 8, 2009.http://www.wpix.com/landing/?FDA-Food-Makers-to-Acknowledge-Bug-Based=1&blockID=179133&feedID=1404
- Schaffer, Sara. "Reading Our Lips: The History of Lipstick Regulation in Western Seats of Power." Legal Electronic Document Archive, Harvard Law School Library. May 19, 2006.
- Scott, Brendan and Chuck Bennett. "She's a 'Pit Bull with Lipstick'." New York Post, September 4, 2008.http://www.nypost.com/seven/09042008/news/nationalnews/shes_a_pit_bull_with_lipstick_127420.htm
- Sinderbrand, Rebecca, et al. "'Lipstick on a pig': Attack on Palin or common line?" CNN. September 10, 2008.http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/09/10/campaign.lipstick/
- Stefanini, Sara. "Lip Venom: Plump lips come at a painful price." Columbia News Service. April 4, 2006.http://jscms.jrn.columbia.edu/cns/2006-04-04/stefanini-lipvenom