When I was young I was naive and thought women with bright red lipstick were prostitutes and women who whistled a lot were probably lesbians. Yes, pretty naive. Still am...if someone asked me to pour a Martini I wouldn’t know what to do, I still don’t know what a cumquat is or why woman have Vaseline on their dressing tables (what do they do with it?)
So here is a painting of a woman applying bright lipstick. Where did it spring from? When I was a lad my mum and dad drove us to Yorkshire to visit relatives. Once we were traipsing round the outside market. I saw an old woman (who was probably about 30) sat on an empty stall with a cigarette wedged between bright red lips. The colour prompted me to ask my mum if she was a prostitute. It must have been in a whisper loud enough for the woman to hear as my mum pulled me away. I might have even used the word “hooker” as I’d been watching a lot of Kojak and The Rockford Files and they kept using this word. I’d also heard Huggy Bear use it when talking to Starsky and Hutch.
I did a little research into lipstick, even borrowed a book about the history of cosmetics from the library. A potted history: by the end of the Victorian era only prostitutes wore bright red lipstick. Not even a char lady would dare wear smear red on her lips. Things changed though; after the First World War red ascended the social ladder by small rungs and spread out of the brothels and into theatres. The odd daring member of the Bohemian Society was seen wearing bright red lipstick in magazines and newspapers (bit of a waste as the photos were black and white.)
After the war came the roaring twenties and lipstick roared into the dance halls and films. Big stars were smearing ruby red on their lips for the first time. As the Second World War raged a bright red colouring was seen as slightly patriotic - bleeding a little colour into austere lives. Posters luring recruits showed vivid red lips of women who’d allegedly support you if you joined the big fight.
After the war luxuries were only for the affluent and lipstick was heading towards extinction. However as time’s arrow flew over the 1950's money abounded and scientists merged titanium white into lipsticks. A repertoire of paler colours were born. A new shade would become a craze then be surpassed by yet another subtler shade. Bold bright reds were “out” for many years and only became popular again in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
I remember seeing a test on television programme that showed a waitress serving men for two hours without lipstick. The next week at the same time she served again but wore red lipstick. The tips were markedly higher. Lips don't sweat.
I hope you like this painting on a small canvas. I must admit the gold on the case came out better than I expected. That fleshy section of in the middle of the upper lip is called a procheilion.
Above I mentioned the mystery of Vaseline and had to look into its value. Its value on the dressing table is justified. Here are its uses:-
1. It makes your eyelashes grow: Lather Vaseline all over your eyelashes overnight and watch them thicken, even without a prescription!
2. Softens dry and cracked elbows.
3. Dries cuticles: Store a mini-Vaseline container in your purse and use for emergency dry cuticle moments.
4. Makes kissable, luscious lips that won’t dry out.
5. Helps your perfume stick around: softly rub it all over your perfume points (i.e. the cleavage, behind the ear, neck, and wrist) and your scent will last longer.
6. It is a misconception that Vaseline clogs pores, so smear it all over your face, neck and arms for softer skin.
7. Lipstick smudges: Spread a little Vaseline over your teeth and lipstick smudges be gone! This is an infamous tip used at beauty pageants.
8. To remove last night’s makeup: Apply some to a Q-tip and have a pretty day.
9. Perfect for an eye-shadow/blush boost: Apply some under your eye shadow for a glossy effect. Apply on the apples of your cheeks for a dewy glow. Mix with lipstick for a cream blusher!
10. It eases eyebrow plucking: Tame your eyebrows and lube up the under-skin so you can pluck with ease.
11. Prevent hair dye from seeping onto your forehead: Softly dab all over your hairline and keep that box hair dye from dying your forehead the color of your new hairdo.
12. To make your accessories look brand spankin’ new: New job interview or a hot date? Put a small dab on your shoes and shine away!
13. Hide Split Ends: Haven’t had a haircut since your budget only allows you go to Great Clips for a quickie? Hide damaged ends with a small amount on your ends.
14. Remove makeup stains for your clothes. Dab a little with a damp cloth.
15. To Prevent spray-tan streaks: Rub all over the backs of your knees, ankles and hands to prevent seriously frightening spray tan lines.
16. To get those O.P.I. nail polish bottles open: Make it easier next time and rub Vaseline under the cap. Easy to open the next time you decide to do an at-home pedi.
17. Make an exfoliating body wash: Mix with sea salt and come out of the shower feeling soft, and sexy.
18. Remove false eyelash glue from your lash line.
19. Can be used to smooth and soothe skin after shaving.
20. Lubricates ear lobes and helps make earring insertion easy and painless.
21. Once you carve your Halloween pumpkin, rub Vaseline on the exposed edges. It keeps it from rotting or going dry.
Spot the lipstick…
The painting sits on my bedroom wall. Alfie doesn’t look impressed…