The Transformative Power of Red Lipstick in Film

If you search for “red lipstick” in the Female Daily archives, you will be greeted with an encyclopedic collection of red lipstick reviews and manifestos from the people who love them. Not all red lipsticks are created equal: Pablohoney has reviewed plenty reviews of different red lipsticks, but still has different things to say about each one.

FD member Angelajess has a steadily burgeoning collection of reds, and it doesn’t look like she plans on stopping the hoarding habit anytime soon. Designer Nanida Jenahara Nasution has nothing but praise for red lipstick, claiming that there’s a red shade somewhere out there for everybody. A lot of us here at FDHQ have at least one red lipstick on hand at all times — we can’t get enough of it.

Humanity has been artificially tinting lips since the Sumerians rolled into the picture about 5,000 years ago, and since then the connotation behind a woman wearing red lipstick has fluctuated from being taboo (Victorian England) to empowering (WW2-era United States). What once was a cosmetic product associated with prostitution in the West has become a worldwide feminist symbol. Today, a woman who wears red lipstick is immediately measured as being feisty, no-nonsense carpe diem-types. I want to be that woman too, and that’s the exact feeling I get when I wear red lipstick.

At its core biological level, red lips are deemed attractive because they are the mark of a healthy woman of child-bearing age. Our fascination with blood-red lips may be purely evolutionary — a primal animal instinct inherited from our ancestors’ stone-age DNA — but we’ve turned it from being the marker of a healthy woman into a trademark banner of an assertive woman.

Characters who wear red lipstick in movies are usually femme fatale types, or strong-willed characters with more to them than pretty faces: think about Jessica Rabbit, Vesper Lynd, and Mia Wallace. When you see a character put on red lipstick in a movie, that usually means that something really important is about to go down in the plot. So to demonstrate the power of red lipstick in films, here are a couple of famous red lips from celluloid, followed by recommendations shades you can wear to channel the same sort of cinematic vibe.

Next: Grease >>