International Lipstick Day
(27 Jul 2017)

lipstick day

International Lipstick Day – trite or topical?

Nicholas Strelitz Fashion Editor Expresso
By Nicholas Strelitz

Who knew there was an entire day dedicated to lipstick? Those tiny tubes filled with an assortment of varied waxes, like bees and candeililla wax. I sure didn’t. But alas, it’s true – state-side anwyays. July 29th is the day.

lipstick day2
(image: Eluxe Magazine)

What exactly is the point, some might ask? Why are we celebrating something designed to “improve” upon the looks of women, and in some cases, the men who partake? Isn’t this simply feeding into the already embedded belief that our society is image-obsessed? That we care about nothing more than our outward appearance? The short answer is……..No.

We do live in a time in which we’re judged more for how we look than what’s inside – cue violins – this much is true. And so what if someone gets a bit of a confident boost by dabbling in various beauty treatments designed to slightly alter or amplify ones face and respective facial features? I have no problem with this rationale even at its most simplified. But, the story, as it relates to lipstick, runs much deeper than this.

Lipstick is and has always been an expression of one’s right to control his or her mind, body, and soul. Am I sounding ever so slightly dramatic? Maybe, but than I am prone to dramatics. Seriously though, the application of this tiny cosmetic is symbolic of the very right to do so.

During its inception in the times of Ancient Samaria (think modern-day Iraq) almost 5,000 years ago, and continuing into the reign of perhaps one of the most well-known rulers in history (also an avid fan of the cosmetic in question) – Cleopatra - lipstick actually WAS used freely by both men and women. To have it strewn across ones face represented upper-class status, a sign that you were wealthy enough to afford the concoction of what, originally, involved various crushed insects and dye.

(image 1:                                        (image 2:

Things continued in this vain until 17th century England – my favourite period of English history no less – when Parliament actually considered banning the wearing of lipstick as they called it “the vice of painting” – meaning, assuming I am correct, the art of dolling oneself up, of making a spectacle by having the audacity to draw attention to oneself. Whereas prior to this point in time, men and women had both worn lipstick in relatively equal parts and as a sign of social status, it was then that the pendulum swung much more so in the direction of female usage. Hence the incoming attempt at restriction. Not a coincidence I would argue.

women in time

The bill didn’t pass, but the message was resounding. It was during this period where a shift in perception of what constituted appropriateness really took hold. Mainly, men telling women what was in, and what was not. What was acceptable and what crossed the line. The line wholly made by men in positions of power and wealth.

Social restrictions on women’s dress and appearance continued in this light and for the next few centuries (some might argue it’s still ongoing at-present to which I would agree), culminating in movements like the suffragettes in England and the feminist movement in America (with roots in the first Women’s Conference of 1848). In 1915, a bill was even introduced into state legislature in America that would see a woman under 44 who wore make-up charged with a misdemeanour offence. I mean, c’mon!

women in time2

The movements against feministic thought and action, like the one just mentioned, though about larger, more far-reaching issues like the rite to vote and the rite to equal work, at their base, centred on a women’s right to choose. Whether it was a choice in president or a choice in physical appearance, women were fighting for representation that would allow them to self-express however they deemed most appropriate for themselves. Without the watchful eye of their male counterparts.

women in time3

women in time 4
(Image: Pinterest)

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(image: Emaze)

Lipstick was simply a symbol of that fight.

So why do we celebrate International Lipstick Day in 2017? Well, it’s about the continued fight for equal rights. The fact that a woman does and more importantly CAN choose to adorn her lips with a variety of wax-infused colours is symbol enough that we have come along way. So the next time you hear someone call out “Happy International Lipstick Day” (cause that happens often enough), don’t roll your eyes in protest of a holiday that is seemingly trite and superficial. Raise your lipstick to the sky in celebration of something much more profound. The very right for one to rock a cherry-red lip on any given Tuesday morning, should she OR he (it is 2017 after all!) feel it not only necessary but an absolute must!



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