Friday, 17 May 2013
A bit of lippy
Lipstick was common in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, but as Christianity took hold in Europe in the 4th century it was seen as irreligious and rapidly banished. The Catholic Church condemned cosmetics, linking red lipstick with Satanic worship.
Then it returned in the 16th century when Queen Elizabeth I ignored religious scruples and inspired the fashion of a white face and garishly painted lips.
But lipstick fell out of favour again in the 18th century, increasingly seen as gawdy and vulgar and relegated to lower-status women like actresses and prostitutes. The obvious use of cosmetics was frowned upon by respectable women.
It was only in the late 19th century that lipstick made another comeback when it was marketed commercially during the industrial revolution and American actress Sarah Bernhardt started putting on lipstick in public.
By the early 1920s American and British women regarded lipstick as an essential daily requirement. Lipstick became so popular that by the 1960s it was women without lipstick who attracted criticism, often dismissed as lesbians or oddballs.
And of course lipstick has seldom been used by men, unless they're gay or actors - or both. It's seen as a classic indicator of femininity and woe betide any male who gets in on the act. He'll either be scorned or laughed at for such emasculating behaviour.
Well, just imagine if men always wore lipstick and heels. You simply couldn't take them seriously, could you?