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Beauty In Retrospect: What This Century's Lipstick Trends Say About Women

Lifestyle

According to Li Edelkoort, one of the world’s best-known trend forecasters, there is an interesting connection between body, lips, and time frame, influenced by focus and proportion. Many factors come into play when analyzing lipstick trends: emphasis on particular body parts, celebrities of the time, and most importantly, the economic and financial status of American society in general. Perhaps you knew that the length of a woman’s skirt is dependent upon the economy, but who knew the color and shape of a woman’s lips could be so telling of the times?


The ’20s – Prohibition and Rebellion
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A matte-finished, heart-shaped mouth is the expression of the seductive, coquettish woman of the Roaring Twenties. Taking their cue from the scorned-yet-sought-after flapper, women go out to dance, drink illicitly distilled whiskey, and push the envelope of their independence.

Black-and-white movies present the mouth in daring, feminine shapes—the “Cupid’s bow” style of Clara Bow, the “vamp’s lips” of Theda Bara, and the sexy “bee-stung” lips of Mae Murray. Edelkoort notes that because the focal body part of the time period is the legs, “breasts are smallish, and girls are boyish.” Eyes are large and lips are thin. Lip colors are black and garnet red.

The ’30s – Economic Depression

A mouth drawn outwards with square edges emphasizes the stern, perfectionist appearance of the sober ’30s. Women, having witnessed the financial battery of the Great Depression, are thrifty and austere.

Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich—powerful, yet glamorous women who are not afraid to determine their own fate—are idols of the time. Their steely and androgynous appearance personifies the adult woman. Lip color is a silky/glossy reddish brown.

The ’40s – Wartime

A full mouth formed with symmetrical curves represents the courageous, self-assured look of the ’40s despite wartime privations. While men are at war, women are forced to fill their roles, giving them a newfound sense of identity and responsibility.

The Hollywood heroines of the silver screen, such as Rita Hayworth, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, and Katherine Hepburn encourage the idea that women are equally as capable in filling roles formerly occupied by males. Lipstick becomes an instrument of individual morale, symbolizing strength while disguising sorrow. Lip color is a brilliantly glossy vermillion.

The ’50s – Post-War Period

A voluptuous mouth with the lip line extended beyond the natural shape is reflective of this period of reconstruction. The look is seductive and feminine, revealing the ambivalence of women. On one hand, they oppose the traditional role of women—one they fought to suppress during wartime. On the other hand, they long to embrace their sexuality and femininity.

Consequently, there are two strongly opposing role models: the voluptuous and feminine Marilyn Monroe, and the cool and self-confident Audrey Hepburn. Lip colors are bright red or pink. Edelkoort says that in this period of rebuilding an entire economy, the focus is on the body, and the face is seen as one whole element in perfect proportion.

The ’60s – Flower Power and Rebellion

A full, soft pout goes hand in hand with the rebellious habits of hippies in the sixties. The period is characterized by the exploration of outer space, the sexual revolution, Woodstock, and the anti-war movement.

The youthful, anorexic chic of Twiggy and the provocative pout of Brigitte Bardot are symbols of the rejection of conventional beauty, prosperity, and consumption. Hence, lipstick is still applied, but discreetly. Lip shape is large and colors are shimmering beige-like mother-of-pearl, baby pink, and silver/white. Li attributes this to a sudden shift in sexuality, noting that the most focused-upon body parts are the breasts and butt.

The ’70s – Disco Rules

An outlined, shiny mouth reflects the shimmering iridescence of the ’70s disco look. Saturday Night Fever, Studio 54, platform shoes, and soulful divas like Gloria Gaynor and Diana Ross define this decade. Women break social conventions and explore boundaries.

They are not afraid to become single mothers or fight for their social and political rights, and they are especially unafraid of their sexuality. Lip colors such as glittering crimson or burgundy red convey self-confidence.

The ’80s – Emancipation

A dark, wide mouth represents the provocative punk look of the ’80s. Punk, as a musical statement and a culture, is the first anti-beauty movement. In fashion, women and men alike play with the idea of reverse gender roles. The transvestite chic of Boy George and the fashion of Vivienne Westwood convey “tribal identity.” Influenced by music videos such as Madonna’s “Vogue” and Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me Baby?,” strong eyes and dark lips become a popular trend. Lip colors are dark to black with metallic effects.

The ’90s – Individualism

A clearly outlined mouth painted in natural colors, either shining or matte, documents the grunge-turned-pop look of the ’90s. Internet, cell phones, Pearl Jam and plaid, piercings, tattoos, hip-hop, and the fitness wave set the tone for this decade socially and commercially. Fashion trends change quickly—everything is allowed. The introduction of supermodels—Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, and Linda Evangelista—permeates women’s idea of beauty. Brown undergoes a revival, but both dark and bright lip colors are in demand.

2000 – The New Millennium

“Cocooning” is the buzzword for the transition into this new millennium. The term expresses a longing to return to intrinsic value and friends and family: a harmony that does not stop at lip fashion. The shape of the mouth is natural. Soft and warm shades are prominent. Pastels and shimmering shades of beige, pink, and apricot (so-called non-colors) reflect women’s desires to embrace their natural beauty and the quest for eternal balance and happiness. It’s about a return to our basic needs, and in a declining economic climate, a new appreciation for the bare essentials.

So what will the future bring? According to Edelkoort, history will continue to repeat itself. She predicts that, for now, generous, whitish beige lips will reflect our nurturing desire to live at a sustainable, slower pace. “Thinner lips will take us into the 2020’s,” she says. “Eventually, perfect red lips with harmonized proportions between the eyes, lips, and body will balance our beauty in the new era of post-recession and reconstruction.”

This article first appeared on Beauty Matter.

Culture

A Modern Day Witch Hunt: How Caster Semenya's Gender Became A Hot Topic In The Media

Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.


Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.

That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.

Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.

Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.

Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.

With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.

The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.

Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.

As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.

Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.