I've always been a fan of red lips but I never really wore them unless I was going out or something of the sort. Since my move to New York however I've pretty much made the red lip my make-up go to with little to nothing else except maybe some mascara if I'm feeling especially shit giving that day. What I find so interesting about the red lip is the way putting this color on my face makes me feel. It's almost as though I completely transform from roll-out-of-bed, groggy and ready to hiss at the first person that rubs me the wrong way Ashley to pulled together, confident, graceful, posh and totally in control of her own life Ashley. Obviously I am both of these and thus making the psychology behind the red lip so very interesting to me. When I wear a purple lip or a coral lip I don't feel this transformation, it is only the fire engine red that gets my heart beating and confidence radiating.
So what is it about the red lip? The power of masquerade has always been of extreme interest to me. The way that I approach dress and appearance has strong ties in the market of masquerading. Sometimes the masquerade is to hide behind a facade or create a false persona so people will think one thing when it is actually quite the opposite. By doing this I am also tricking myself into believing it and becoming it as I discussed a few months back here. In my research on the psychology behind the power of the red lip I came across this article on Psychologies magazine's website that I thought was very well written and since I couldn't say it better myself I am presenting it to you all here today.
"For centuries, red lips have largely been seen as a stamp of immorality. In more god-fearing medieval times, it was believed that creating a plump sexualised mouth would earn you a fast-track ticket to hell. Several hundred years later, Parliament passed a law condemning lipstick, considering it a sign of witchcraft. To confuse further our feelings about the cosmetic, there have been large stretches in history that were pro-red lippie. The Sumerians invented the stuff (just 200 miles outside Babylon), and Egyptian women fully embraced deepening one's lip color, going as far as to make sure they were buried with pots of rouge. Perhaps most famously, Queen Elizabeth I, known for her piercing red lips, elevated the shade into something regal, instead of seedy.
It wasn't until the Golden Age of Hollywood, with its Technicolor films and glamorous studio portraits, that red lipstick even came to be considered widely acceptable -- even aspiration. Consider Jean Harlow's pointed red pout in the 1930s, Veronica Lake's in the 1940s and Marilyn Monroe's in the 1950s. None of these actresses was known for playing the girlish ingenue. They were women with overtly feminine power. They were knowing. The lure of looking feminine but remaining powerful was such a glorious notion, it's little wonder women started to use red lipstick as a tool to communicate their own self-possession.
'Red lipstick is a source of strength,' says Poppy King, creator of Lipstick Queen.
'You put it on and suddenly you feel more capable than you did without it.'
|Dita Von Teese for NY Magazine|
Debbie Harry asserted herself in the boys' club that was the New York City punk scene with talent and red lipstick. Gwen Stefani is rarely without her signature crimson pout. And shy Heather Sweet from Michigan wouldn't have made the same cultural impact as Dita Von Teese if it weren't for her red lipstick. If some of the world's most intelligent and charismatic women are using red lipstick for all it's worth, it begs the question -- why do so many women avoid it?
Even the act of applying red lipstick is empowering. By dressing your lips in red, it draws people's attention to you, especially your mouth, and subsequently, the words that come out of it. 'It's a symbol of prowess,' says King. Unlike other cosmetics, many of which correct or camouflage something we don't like about ourselves, red lipstick is about assertion. 'When I cajole a red-lipstick virgin into wearing it, they often say they feel like they could do anything now,' says King. 'One customer said she put it on before giving birth because it made her feel strong.'
That's the thing about red lipstick -- its a beautiful case of chicken and egg. It may require confidence to wear, but confidence can actually be a result of wearing red lipstick -- and no one needs to know which one comes first."