Tell me you’re a patriot without telling me you’re a patriot.
For the women of the 1940s, that was a challenge easily accepted with Montezuma Red and the power and patriotism of red lipstick.
World War II turned the world on its head. American women now not only ran households, raised children, balanced budgets, and kept their families fed, clothed, clean, and healthy, but now they were also running all the other aspects of the world. Thrust into every area of the workforce, women were filling roles men traditionally held to keep the world working while the war raged on.
But this didn’t mean makeup was to be sloppy. If anything, it meant that makeup started taking on a whole new meaning and symbolic place in daily life. Enter makeup artist and women’s advocate, Elizabeth Arden, and the military’s request for an active service red lipstick.
Montezuma Red was developed as the color of the official, military issued lipstick, nail polish, and rouge. Bright, vibrant, and luscious, it matched the red on the women’s Marine Corps uniforms and was a discrete snub to Hitler himself.
According to author Madeleine Marsh, red lipstick was included in a list of things female visitors to Hitler’s country retreat were not to wear. So Allied women took that as a call to wear the brightest most vivid reds.
Red, as a color, has many meanings and represents a variety of sentiments, not the least of which are passion, courage, desire, strength, determination, action, and vigor. It’s an intense and energetic color that packs a lot of punch even in the smallest amounts. And, it’s a primary part of our flag.
So red it was. Ads from the WWII period can be seen stating, “Keep Your Beauty on Duty”, noting the importance makeup and general hygiene played in boosting and maintaining morale. There were shortages and the heavy dread of war. People were working tirelessly, making huge sacrifices, and pulling the country through a very stressful time. Surely, it had to feel like the world was falling apart. But there was power in putting your daily uniform on – whether it was a house dress or Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps uniform – and adding the finishing touch of an electrifying red lipstick.
Like the British poppy, the American red lipstick is a symbol of unity and strength, honor and decorum, patriotism and beauty. It was a way for women to show their support, bash Hitler, and maintain dignity in the face of world-wide fear.
Where To Get Your Patriot Red Lipstick
Today, we need a little patriotism. Women can revive this simple yet powerful statement by donning a red lipstick and embracing this uniquely feminine way of saying you’re a patriot without saying you’re a patriot.
Hope Beauty USA
Hope Cosmetics is a beauty company based in Christian values and biblical beauty. Hope, the founder, is on a mission to inspire confidence and remind women that their beauty comes from God. Hope Cosmetics has a Rahab Lipstick that is an amazing red color perfect for showcasing your American spirit. Use code AMERICANMOM for 10%
Bésame creates cosmetics inspired by the glamor and beauty standards of a bygone era. Hoping to recapture the elegance of 1940s and ‘50s beauty regimenes, Bésame makes history-inspired cosmetics and beauty products for the modern woman. They have created their 1941 Victory Red lipstick as an homage to the military-issued red of WWII.
Join the movement and #WearRedLipstick. Show us how you wear your patriotic red lipstick by tagging us in your Instagram Stories.