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HISTORY

How red lipstick was initially associated with witchcraft and later became a fashion statement

At one point in history, painting your lips that color could lead to women being judged for “seducing” men with the power of makeup.

Today, painting your lips red is as normal as putting away your money and keys before leaving your home. It’s a classic that never fails and, for many of us, it’s an instant confidence boost. A true fashion statement; but there was a time in history when red lipstick was synonymous with witchcraft: a kind of spell that women used against “poor” men, who fell at their feet because of that crimson deception.

It is no secret that, throughout history, women have been subjected to various mandates aimed, above all, at the control of our sexuality by, yes, the men who wielded power. In 1700, in England, a pastor named Thomas Hall got the use of red lipstick banned because it, along with all makeup, was a trick to deceive men. Or so he thought.

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The law said that those women found guilty of “seducing” men with makeup to marry them could be tried for witchcraft.

Martina Ca, who talks about historical aspects of fashion from her social networks, explains that in the 19th century makeup was not usual for upper-class women and was related to women of “low morals”.

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Stores and pharmacies sold it clandestinely, so wearing it was a clear affront to good manners. For the same reason, later on, the Suffragettes took it up again as a color of protest: at the beginning of the 20th century, they wore red lipstick while demanding the right to vote.

Years later, the businesswoman Elizabeth Arden was one of the first to use red lipstick as a symbol of rebellion and strength. Her brand, which remains one of the most recognized to this day, sought to move makeup away from the macho stereotypes with which it had been associated... and make it synonymous with feminine power.

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