By: Natasha Archary
The ‘Red Lipstick Challenge’ is sweeping through social media and rallying up thousands of women this Women’s Month and if you think it’s just a ‘pretty selfie flex’ think again.
A red lip is not just a makeup trend, it’s the foundation that is said to be the power move of women’s liberation. While the politics around red lipstick has for centuries been associated with white women, over the past few decades, women of colour have been reclaiming the shade.
The history of the red lip
Crazy to think that women have been staining their lips red from about 3500 BC when red rocks were crushed into a powder and used to tint their lips. The tradition of the red lip can also be traced to Asia where women would use rose petals to create a lip stain that would transform their lips to a rosy hue.
No one knows the exact era the red lipstick marked a woman’s liberation but some believe the look started in 1912 when Elizabeth Arden handed out red lipsticks to marching suffragettes (women seeking the right to vote through organized protest).
The story is used to show that Arden was a passionate women’s rights advocate and also drives the idea of red lipstick being adopted as a symbol of female protest.
Stereotyping the red lip
During the 18th and 19th centuries, red lipstick was reserved solely for “women of the night” or prostitutes and because of this many stereotypes continue about the red lip today.
On white women, as an example, red lipstick is seen as classic, elegant and of a high standard. Whereas on women of colour, it is perceived to be overtly sexual and loud.
The general perception by many, especially men is that a woman with red lipstick is promiscuous. This may be why women are taking on the ‘Red Lipstick Challenge’ this Women’s Month and changing that narrative by expressing themselves.
Red Lipstick Challenge
A mark of bold strength, empowerment and all the emotion that comes with being a woman, the red lip is being redefined as women find it resonates with their voices going unheard for so long. Even in Women’s Month, the plight of women who fall victim to gender-based violence on a daily basis falls on deaf ears.
The ‘Red Lipstick Challenge’ is more than a pretty selfie flex and forms part of Momentum’s #SheOwnsHerSuccess campaign this Women’s Month. It is a silent protest message that women will continue to fight for a seat at the table!
She is ALWAYS in control of her circumstances&never plays victim. Determined and dedicated to being better than yesterday, puts family first and strives to be a ray of sunlight and a beacon of hope. Red Lips make me feel sultry, and unapologetically strong pic.twitter.com/XHu5rJ50Lu
— Mihlali Gqada (@Mihlali_Gqada) August 10, 2021
— Rare Gem (@OnaNkabinde) August 10, 2021
I have realised that sometimes I take myself way too seriously. Wearing red whether it’s lipstick or a dress reminds me to be bold in having fun too. 🥰
— Author Yvette Ratshikhopha📚🌍 (@Yvette_Aloe) August 10, 2021
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