IN AMERICA, lipstick is the foundation of
empires. It’s a signature of identity; it’s propaganda, self-expression, oppression, freedom, and rebellion. It’s a multibillion-dollar industry and one of our most iconic accessories of gender. This engaging and entertaining history of lipstick from the colonies to the present will give readers a new view of the little tube’s big place in modern America, from defining the middle class to building Fortune 500 businesses to being present at Stonewall and being engineered for space travel.
Lipstick has served as both a witness and a catalyst to history—it went to war with women, it gave women of color previously unheard-of business opportunities, and it was part of the development of celebrity and mass media. In the twentieth century alone, lipstick evolved from a beauty secret for a select few to a required essential for well-turned-out women but also a mark of rock ‘n’ roll rebellion and a political statement.
How has this mainstay of the makeup kit remained relevant for over a century? Beauty journalist Ilise S. Carter suggests that it’s because the simple lipstick says a lot. From the provocative allure of a classic red lip to the powerful statement of drag, the American love affair with lipstick is linked to every aspect of our experience of gender, from venturing into the working world or running for the presidency. The Red Menace will capture all of those dimensions with a view of American history that makes it a must-read for lipstick’s fiercest disciples, harshest critics, and everyone in between.