From the flapper girls of the forties, through shoulder pad clad business women of the eighties, to the women of today, ladies have reached for their red lipstick in order to feel attractive, confident and above all, empowered. But what is the psychology behind the act of colouring one’s lips a shade of crimson?
Red is a colour long associated with power and achievement. Queen Elizabeth I was known for her regal red lips and Rosie the Riveter, the pin up girl representing strength for women during the Second World War is wearing a slick of red lipstick in the iconic poster. In Ancient Egypt the colour red was associated with victory and the Egyptians would paint themselves with red ochre when celebrating. In Ancient Rome, Generals were painted red to honour their achievements.
Could the historical and spiritual significance of the colour possibly influence the psychological effects of wearing it today?
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Studies have shown that waitresses wearing red lipstick earn more tips than their pink or bare lipped colleagues (!) and many women insist that wearing it makes them feel strong and powerful. There are, of course, the obvious physical advantages of wearing a red lipstick. Undeniably, red is a head turning colour that’s timeless, elegant and reminiscent of the Rita Hayworths and Marilyn Monroes of a bygone era. Red lips emphasise the whites of a woman’s eyes and blue based reds famously make teeth appear whiter.
A slick of red lipstick might very well leave a woman feeling empowered, however psychologists argue that it is a chicken and egg situation. Is the woman wearing the red lipstick naturally confident and therefore daring enough to paint her lips an eye catching hue? Or does the very act of wearing it actually have a psychological effect that puts extra bounce in her step?
Whatever the psychology behind the power of the red pout, one thing is certain – a woman wearing red lipstick is not only perceived as being attractive but she is confident, self-assured and polished. Red lipstick is timeless for a reason and I for one hope it sticks around for decades to come. Are you a red lippie devotee?