What is Makeup For? A Wartime Story of Lipstick and Liberation

Does your beauty routine feel like a hassle? Remember that, in 1945, a delivery of red lipstick literally saved women's lives.

Posted on 9/5/2019 1:28:58 PM

Have you ever deleted a photo on Facebook or Instagram because it didn’t get “enough” likes? Of course. We all have.

Us women place a lot of expectations on ourselves.

We feel the need to look sharp for many reasons: so that classmates don’t make fun of us for not being “cool.” So that an employer takes us seriously during an interview. To impress on a first date.

Studies even show that women who wear makeup to work advance more in their careers.

So, we get up extra early to do our routine.

Routine: a strange, military term. We follow it out of duty.

We don’t stop to think that in our hands, as we stand in front of the mirror each morning, is literal magic. Makeup gives us the power to transform ourselves. To be our best.

Makeup is protection and an instant confidence boost. It’s also ritual. It’s a celebration. It says to others: I am here, living my life as well as I can each day.

One of the most incredible stories we’ve heard is one about the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp Bergen-Belsen. It’s a story about lipstick

In 1945, Lieutenant Colonel Mervin Willett Gonin, a British soldier who took part in caring for the camp’s victims, wrote in his diary:

A very large quantity of lipstick arrived. This was not at all what we men wanted, we were screaming for hundreds and thousands of other things...

“I wish so much that I could discover who did it, it was the action of genius, sheer unadulterated brilliance.

“I believe nothing did more for those internees than the lipstick.

“Women lay in bed with no sheets and no nightie but with scarlet red lips, you saw them wandering about with nothing but a blanket over their shoulders, but with scarlet red lips.”

“At last someone had done something to make them individuals again… That lipstick started to give them back their humanity.

Piles of retro wooden moving boxes.


Remember that image of the red lipstick amid utter devastation, and you will see what we mean: makeup is magic.

Something small – like a splash of color, a gesture you do for yourself or a friend – can make a difference even in a dreadful situation.

You don’t have to wear makeup for work, or for that first date, or for the Facebook likes.

Wear it for yourself. Wear it because it can give you that extra bit of strength to face your toughest challenges.

If those women in 1945 did it, so can we.

Find out how you can receive a box with red lipstick and everything else you need.

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