Happy Independence Day, everyone! I really love this holiday. It’s not expensive. I don’t have to spend hours agonizing over gifts. I don’t have to cook a big, fancy meal. I don’t even have to wear a slip or stockings. Well, nobody says I ever have to wear those, but you get the idea.
I guess it wasn’t all that long ago when I would have been expected to wear a slip and stockings. I get all sweaty and itchy just thinking about it. It’s crazy that during my lifetime there have been work places requiring all female employees to wear pantyhose. Why, every proper lady carried a bottle of clear nail polish in her purse to stave off runners in her nylons!
Get this: At the beginning of the 20th century, make-up was considered cheapening, the domain of prostitutes and lowly theatre people. So in 1912, when a group of 20,000 suffragettes took to the streets wearing lipstick, they couldn’t have made a bigger scene. Without saying a word, their mouths spoke loudly about their right to make choices for themselves. This display was part of an overall change in the country, with women feeling more and more free to decide how they wanted to dress, look, feel. Soon, they would no longer have to order cosmetics as though these were whisky during Prohibition. (Make-up used to arrive in plain, brown-paper packages, as if it were pornography!)
This year marks 100 years since women weaponized lipstick. I think it’s a perfect reminder of just how new independence is not only to our country but also to American women, in particular. In my business of medical skincare and cosmetic dermatology, I am especially grateful for those women. Funny, but it’s true: Looking how we choose, beautifying ourselves however we see fit, not to mention voting with the menfolk, we stand on the shoulders of modest ladies with ankle-length dresses, frilly parasols, and high-necked collars—daring to wear a little lipstick.