+
More

During WWII, beauty was propaganda, but it might’ve helped win the war.

True
Maybelline New York Beauty & Beyond

Today, it might seem like people wouldn't have time to think about makeup during wartime — but during World War II, it was a priority.

It was the 1940s and a difficult time for Americans to keep their spirits up. After all, fascism was rising as a global threat, troops were shipping off for dangerous battles, and everyday life at home was completely disrupted.

With so many men leaving, the country had a lot of work left behind. Someone on the home front had to keep manufacturing weapons, distributing food, and completing other tasks critical to a nation’s survival. Eventually, that had to include women.


But even in harrowing times, one surprising thing didn’t get sacrificed: makeup.

[rebelmouse-image 19346207 dam="1" original_size="904x674" caption="Women working during World War II. Image via Republic Drill and Tool Company/Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division/Wikimedia Commons." expand=1]Women working during World War II. Image via Republic Drill and Tool Company/Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division/Wikimedia Commons.

In fact, makeup and beauty were seen as an important part of winning the war.

At the time, society had pretty rigid ideas about gender roles, so makeup wasn’t just about looking good — it was at the core of what it meant to be a woman at the time.

Many women took pride in keeping themselves and their homes looking put together, and a woman putting effort into her looks was seen as a sign of a happy, healthy society. Her efforts helped reassure people that they hadn’t lost everything. If women gave up their beauty habits at wartime, that would have been interpreted as a disturbing sign that life was not as it should be.

If women looked tired or worn down by the war, it might be seen — both at home and abroad — like we were losing the war. And that couldn’t be, so beauty became a crucial part of the propaganda movement.

That’s why the government encouraged women to continue putting effort into their appearance during the war. It was believed that their smiles could boost morale, brightening up soldiers' attitudes as well as their own during this difficult time. And with good morale, maybe we would win after all.

So while men shipped off to perform their duties in battle, many women considered it their patriotic duty to be beautiful. And they stepped up to the task.

What’s more impressive was the fact that these gals often didn’t even have real makeup to work with.

With so many resources going to the war effort, every industry, including fashion and beauty industries, faced material shortages. But some women took their morale-boosting duties seriously and got creative. They used beetroot to stain their lips red and used vegetable dye for hair color. Popular hairstyles like Victory Rolls — banana curls that you pin up and away from your face — were both fashionable and functional.

Soon, beauty companies began selling red lipstick with names like Victory Red and Fighting Red, to inspire women with a fighting spirit. It set the stage for today, when major beauty companies like Maybelline declare that "red lipstick never goes out of style."

[rebelmouse-image 19346208 dam="1" original_size="1948x3000" caption="A government poster encouraging women's work during WII. Image via National Archives and Records Administration/Wikimedia Commons." expand=1]A government poster encouraging women's work during WII. Image via National Archives and Records Administration/Wikimedia Commons.

Before long, makeup and beauty played big roles in propaganda imagery, too.

Pictures of pin-up girls became staples for military men, who had photos of glamorous models and actresses sent to them to boost morale and remind them of what they were fighting for.

And of course, there’s the iconic poster of Rosie the Riveter. Created in 1942 by Pittsburg artist J. Howard Miller, the poster depicts a woman wearing a polka dot bandana, a button-up blue shirt, and bright red lipstick. She flexes her arm below the words "We Can Do It!"

[rebelmouse-image 19346209 dam="1" original_size="1000x1294" caption="The "We Can Do It!" poster. Image by J. Howard Miller/ Wikimedia Commons." expand=1]The "We Can Do It!" poster. Image by J. Howard Miller/ Wikimedia Commons.

This image has since become a feminist icon because it represents a time when many American women were entering the workplace for the first time. She has come to evoke women’s determination to fight for gender equality.

But there’s a big reason why you can’t accurately represent Rosie without including her long eyelashes, pink cheeks, and bright red lips.

That’s because at first, it wasn’t easy for people to accept the idea of women performing manual labor.

Before the war, the idea of women in the workplace was uncommon, especially for middle- and upper-class women who stayed home as housewives while their husbands went to work. While some women — particularly low-income women — had already been working for decades and even centuries, others had never worked as anything other than a housewife. The home was considered a woman’s "proper" place.

[rebelmouse-image 19346210 dam="1" original_size="4036x3224" caption="A "Rosie" working on a bomber aircraft in 1943. Image by Alfred T. Palmer/U.S. Office of War Information/Wikimedia Commons." expand=1]A "Rosie" working on a bomber aircraft in 1943. Image by Alfred T. Palmer/U.S. Office of War Information/Wikimedia Commons.

But traditional gender roles began to shift when labor shortages required women to go to work. World wars demand entire countries’ resources, and with far fewer men around to do what was once considered "men’s work," it simply wouldn’t have been possible to maintain the country without women filling in.

Of course, that didn’t mean that people were happy about it.

They worried that women would have to give up their femininity to work "men’s jobs" because they didn’t yet see physical strength and beauty as compatible. Some married men even outright opposed the idea that their wives should go to work.

People needed some assurance that women’s strength didn’t have to mean compromising beauty — and that’s exactly what Rosie the Riveter’s poster tried to accomplish.

Her look was similar to that of many working women of the time. They aimed to strike a balance between practicality and beauty — to get important tasks done and demonstrate that they didn’t have to take off their makeup to do it.

In fact, Miller is said to have based Rosie the Riveter’s image on a real photo. The identity of the woman who inspired him has been the subject of some debate, but it’s widely believed that he based his illustration on a photograph of Naomi Parker Fraley.

In 1942, a photographer for the Acme Photo Agency happened to snap a photo of Fraley peering over a machine at the Naval Air Station in Alameda, California. Like many women workers, she wore long sleeves, a polka dot bandana, and neatly applied makeup — embodying beauty and strength all at once.

[rebelmouse-image 19346211 dam="1" original_size="1024x683" caption="A photo op at Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park. Image via National Park Service/Flickr." expand=1]A photo op at Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park. Image via National Park Service/Flickr.

These women redefined what it means to be feminine, knowing that you can rock sexy red lips and still be a powerhouse of a woman.

When you see Rosie the Riveter now, remember the badass women who survived a horrific era by finding strength in simple acts like applying makeup. It’s why she came to symbolize millions women whose communities wouldn’t have survived without their labor.

These days, it can still be a challenge for a woman to balance society’s expectations of strength and beauty — and the false impression that she has to choose between them. People expect women to be pretty but then judge them as vain and superficial if they appear to care "too much" about their looks.

But the Rosies of the world have proved it’s possible to break through that stereotype. A woman can perform so-called "men’s work" while sporting a look that makes her feel feminine, confident, and capable all at once.

Pop Culture

One moment in history shot Tracy Chapman to music stardom. Watch it now.

She captivated millions with nothing but her guitar and an iconic voice.

Imagine being in the crowd and hearing "Fast Car" for the first time

While a catchy hook might make a song go viral, very few songs create such a unifying impact that they achieve timeless resonance. Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” is one of those songs.

So much courage and raw honesty is packed into the lyrics, only to be elevated by Chapman’s signature androgynous and soulful voice. Imagine being in the crowd and seeing her as a relatively unknown talent and hearing that song for the first time. Would you instantly recognize that you were witnessing a pivotal moment in musical history?

For concert goers at Wembley Stadium in the late 80s, this was the scenario.

Keep ReadingShow less
www.youtube.com

Man hailed 'Highway Hero' for running across four lanes of traffic

Holy cow, Bat Man! You're always supposed to be aware of other vehicles when you're driving but what do you do when you notice someone has lost consciousness while speeding down the highway?

It's a scenario that no one wants to see play out, but for Adolfo Molina, the scenario became reality and he didn't hesitate to spring into action. Molina was driving down the highway when he spotted a woman in a blue car who lost consciousness as her car careened down the shoulder of the highway. The concerned driver quickly pulled over in order to attempt to rescue the woman.

But there was a problem, he had to cross four lanes of traffic on the highway just to make it to the woman's still moving car. That obstacle didn't stop him. Molina sprinted across the highway, crossing right in front of a black pick up truck before running at full speed to attempt to open the woman's door and stop her car.

Keep ReadingShow less

Finally, someone explains why we all need subtitles

It seems everyone needs subtitles nowadays in order to "hear" the television. This is something that has become more common over the past decade and it's caused people to question if their hearing is going bad or if perhaps actors have gotten lazy with enunciation.

So if you've been wondering if it's just you who needs subtitles in order to watch the latest marathon-worthy show, worry no more. Vox video producer Edward Vega interviewed dialogue editor Austin Olivia Kendrick to get to the bottom of why we can't seem to make out what the actors are saying anymore. It turns out it's technology's fault, and to get to how we got here, Vega and Kendrick took us back in time.

They first explained that way back when movies were first moving from silent film to spoken dialogue, actors had to enunciate and project loudly while speaking directly into a large microphone. If they spoke and moved like actors do today, it would sound almost as if someone were giving a drive-by soliloquy while circling the block. You'd only hear every other sentence or two.

Keep ReadingShow less
Internet

Relationship expert tells people to never get married unless you're willing to do 3 things

"If you and your partner (both) are unable or unwilling to do these 3 things consistently forever, you won’t make it."

Relationship expert gives people advice on getting married.

Being in a relationship can be difficult at times. Learning someone else's quirks, boundaries, and deep views on the world can be eye-opening and hard. But usually, the happy chemicals released in our brain when we love someone can cause us to overlook things in order to keep the peace.

Jayson Gaddis, a relationship expert, took to Twitter to rip off people's rose-colored glasses and tell them to forego marriage. Honestly, with the divorce rate in this country being as high as it is, he probably could've stopped his tweet right there. Don't get married, the end. Many people would've probably related and not questioned the bold statement, but thankfully he followed up with three things you must be willing to do before going to the chapel.

Before going into his reasons for why he tells people not to get married, Gaddis explained that he is a person that "LOVEs being married." I mean, it would probably make him a pretty weird relationship expert if he hated relationships, so it's probably a good thing he enjoys being married. Surely his spouse appreciates his stance as well.

Keep ReadingShow less

Humanitarian Helen Keller circa 1920.

In a 1954 documentary short, humanitarian Helen Keller expressed that her greatest regret in life was being unable to speak clearly. But given that she could not see or hear, her speech was quite remarkable.

Keller was born in 1880 and, at the age of 18 months, contracted an unknown illness that left her deaf and blind. But with the help of her teacher, Anne Sullivan, she was able to overcome her disabilities and become an outspoken advocate for the voiceless and oppressed.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

10 years ago, a 'Stairway to Heaven' performance brought Led Zeppelin's surviving members to tears

Heart, John Bonham's son and a full choir came together for the epic tribute.

Led Zeppelin got to see their iconic hit performed for them.

When Billboard and Rolling Stone pull together their "Best Songs of All Time" lists, there are some tunes you know for sure will be included. Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" is most definitely one of them.

It has everything—the beauty of a ballad, the grunginess of a rock song, the simple solo voice, and the band in full force. "Stairway to Heaven" takes us on a musical journey, and even people who aren't necessarily giant Led Zeppelin or classic rock fans can't help but nod or sing along to it.

Of course, it's also been so ubiquitous (or overplayed, as some would claim) to become a meme among musicians. Signs saying "No Stairway to Heaven" in guitar stores point to how sick of the song many guitarists get, and when Oregon radio station KBOO told listeners they would never play the song again if someone pledged $10,000, Led Zepelin singer Robert Plant himself called in and gave the donation.

Keep ReadingShow less