Perhaps lipstick did not untangle the knots of despair of the afflicted soldier, but it provided hope that her femininity would remain constant throughout the war — well groomed, with lipstick and powder.
According to L. S. Carter, in an article published in the “Saturday Evening Post,” dated July/August 2022, “Beauty was her Duty.”
Carter stated, “From the offset of WWII, one thing was clear: Loose lips might sink a ship, but unpainted ones were a serious threat to the war effort.”
Elizabeth Arden, lipstick industry guru and activist, was asked to design a special color of lipstick for the girls in uniform that were in active service. She produced a stunning lipstick called, “Moctezuma Red.” Women using it were said to have attracted immediate attention, at first glance. She also added a new cream rouge and polish to match the lipstick. The results left men pondering as to what was underneath the lipstick — a morale booster for sure.
Women back home were lured by the new lipstick and wanted their own shade of red. For them, Arden created, “Victory Red/Fighting Red.” According to the consensus of women, the color symbolized victory, optimism and impacted morale. They did not leave home without it.
In an article published in the “Washington Post”, written by Carolyn Abbott titled, “War Promotes Cosmetics Use,” Margaret Argeter was quoted as saying, “During the war, men waved the flags and women the lipstick. Ever beauty conscious, the female becomes even more so during the war.”
As women took the jobs left behind by American men, wearing lipstick was still a priority. On the home front, women were now doing assembly line work and other wartime jobs. They were erasing the idea that women could not do the heavy lifting it took to do blue-collar work. They became skilled workers before their time. “Victory Red” and a tint of perfume changed the face of the workplace for the duration of the war. It was considered “Patriotic” to wear lipstick. The colors co-existed on the assembly line with their own identity, but the women wearing them toiled toward the same goal, “Victory in Europe.”
A “Los Angeles Times” article of the time declared the following:
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