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

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."

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!"

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.

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.

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.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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via The BC Cancer Foundation

Testicular cancer typically affects men between the ages of 16 and 44 and is the most common solid tumor to occur in men of this age group. These tumors grow rapidly and can double in size in just 10 to 30 days.

The disease is potentially fatal if not discovered early and accounts for about 11%-13% of all cancer deaths of men between the ages of 15-35. An estimated 9,60 people were diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2020, resulting in around 440 deaths.

So it's incredibly important for people with testicles to check themselves regularly.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.