Tag Archives: make up

Origins of Taboos: Part II


H/T to Black Girl wit Short Hair for photo.

I haven’t been able to find the origins of the taboo of how never the two components of dark skin and bright colors should meet.

BUT I do think I have interesting insight into why this ‘rule’ exists. I read the novel ‘Plum Bun: A Novel Without a Moral’ by Jesse Fauset. Published in 1928, the book follows the life of a young Black women whose light skin affords her the opportunity to pass for white. End synopsis. I brought up this novel that I read years ago, because while the story itself has faded – greatly – in my memory, I do still recall the description of one scene, where the protagonist explained that dark and or darker skinned teachers?/students? were encouraged not to wear white shirts. Instead it was recommended that they wear shirts with darker hues – black, navy blue, etc. The reason? The darker colors were meant to blend into or rather complement the dark skin of the clothes’ wearer. According to this line of thinking, darker skin was not meant to be set off or featured, instead such skin should be hidden, or the next best thing was to “help” such skin be overlooked.

AND THIS line of thinking, is partly why brightly colored lipsticks are not recommended – and even vehemently argued against – for dark skinned make up wearers.

However, I am still stumped as to why this ‘ruling’ has lasted in regards for make up but not clothes. Seriously, I never hear such warnings against dark skinned people shouldn’t wear brightly colored clothes. May be because make up is still considered such a feminine accoutrement and females have always been held to a more constricting beauty standard?

If anyone who happens to wander by this blog has a theory, please feel free to share your opinion. Thanks!

Looking for answers: origins of the taboo of red lips and dark skin


Lately, I’ve been more aware of the warnings and the subsequent push back about black women – specifically dark black women should avoid/can’t wear red lipstick.  I’ve heard this or a variation of this warning for several years now, but it was only just now how oddly specific I found it.

No doubt there is colorism with its preferences and positive associations with lighter skin at work and well, even the origin for this “advice,” but I’ve been wondering why exactly are darker women warned to stay away from red lips specifically?

Was it just that in mainstream American culture when it became respectable for women to wear obvious lipstick, red lips were/and remain associated as looking only appropriate on paler skinned women?

Or is it – this warning, that continues to be passed down to many men and women of color – an aesthetic choice? As in darker skinned should not be placed next to a color so vivid, so bright.  But if that was the case, then why isn’t there a general rule – say an advisement to stay away from all bright colors including pink lips, orange lips, purple lips – or heck, don’t bother putting on any colored make up/up to and beyond lipstick?

No, there is something about the color red itself I think. Will check it out and see.

This video isn’t totally on topic, but I love her story of growing into self acceptance, plus all the new (to me) lip colors I want to try.