My Beauty, My Battle: Keywords: #War #Women #Lipstick

During the Second World War, shortages in Britain meant that everything from food to clothing was rationed. Yet, cosmetics, lipstick in particular, never appeared on the ration list and played a crucial role in uplifting spirits throughout the nation and on the battlefronts.

The British government broadcasted and advertised a clear message: a woman’s beauty was not just a personal concern but a national duty that contributed to the war effort. Officials believed that disinterest in one’s appearance could reflect a nation’s low morale, posing a severe threat to the ongoing war efforts. By maintaining high beauty and fashion standards during such dire times, women were not just preserving their charm; they were embodying the nation’s resilience and unyielding spirit.

Government and fashion industry advertisements, including those in British Vogue, emphasized the importance of women looking their best. These ads conveyed that women’s efforts to dress well were not solely for their own morale but also for the morale of the soldiers fighting abroad, offering a form of resistance against the enemy.

“…women to dress their best not only for the nation’s morale, but also for the boys fighting away from home, and show resistance to the enemy.”

“To be as attractive as we can is almost a civic duty; there are so many sad and ugly things in the world that women should say to themselves humble, not vanity. ‘I will try to be as pretty as I can so that when people look at me, they will feel refreshed. I will make an effort to be easy on the eye.”

Lipstick transcended being a mere beauty product; it became a symbol of resilience and assurance. On gloomy days, a swipe of bright lipstick could lift spirits, turning up the corners of a mouth that couldn’t find a smile. It was a silent yet powerful ally, giving women the strength to maintain their dignity and bravery even in the toughest times.

While Britain encouraged this beauty ritual, Germany took a starkly different approach. The Nazi regime insisted that all resources used for cosmetics should be diverted to war efforts. Hitler idealized a German woman who embodied simplicity and natural beauty, devoid of any makeup.

This stark contrast only fueled the British and American cosmetic firms to position their products as emblems of freedom and defiance against the authoritarian regime. Companies like Tangee launched campaigns such as “War, Women, and Lipstick”, driving home the message that while lipstick alone wouldn’t win the war, it was a symbol of the values they were fighting to preserve.

The role of lipstick in the war is rarely mentioned, but the outcome of World War II? Let me reiterate, there’s no evidence directly linking lipstick to the victory or defeat in the war, so don’t get the wrong idea.

Photo source: Bustle、Glamour Daze、Your Dream Blog

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