Freedom Trash Can: Lipstick

Lipstick image
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A recent US study suggests women who wear more make-up to work get paid more, on average, than other female colleagues.

The global beauty and personal care industry is worth about $500bn (£390bn) a year, but critics say the way cosmetics are marketed perpetuates unrealistic beauty expectations.

Advertising campaigns for cosmetics have become a focus of criticism in many countries. Protesters say that the images are too heavily edited and they lead to women to compare themselves unfavourably with seemingly flawless models.

In some cases protesters want certain products to be taken off the market, for example the skin-whitening cosmetics sold in some Asian and African countries.

Select an object from the list and find out how it might be considered an object of oppression.

  • Make-up

    "Men aren't judged for leaving the house without a full face of make-up." - Anonymous

    Read more about Make-up
  • Uncomfortable fashion

    "I cannot fathom why people wear heels. They're painful, impractical and can cause permanent damage to your body." - Anonymous

    Read more about Uncomfortable fashion
  • Home cooking

    "I'm fed up of the idea of women belonging in the kitchen being normalised." - Emma

    Read more about Home cooking
  • Domestic chores

    "Equality begins in the family, so get off your backside and get cleaning, guys." - Anonymous

    Read more about Domestic chores
  • The bra

    "I shouldn't be forced to look 'pretty'. I am beautiful and intelligent without it." - Lisa

    Read more about The bra
  • Celebrity culture

    "All the models have the same body shape, and they look miserable. It's boring!" - Wendy

    Read more about Celebrity culture
  • Marriage

    "I believe engagement rings are anti-feminist - signifying that the woman with the ring belongs to another person." - Matilde

    Read more about Marriage
  • Social media

    "It's very toxic for young people's mental health, especially girls. They are constantly faced with unrealistic and dangerous ideals." - Roshan

    Read more about Social media
  • Gendered toys

    "All the gendered children's toys tell girls and boys they should only like certain things." - Anna

    Read more about Gendered toys
  • Bonus object

    What are objects of oppression? Discover the thinking behind the Freedom Trash Can and suggest your own object.

    Read more about Bonus object

America's suffragettes were early adopters of lipstick, in defiance of the expectation that women should be modest.

But nowadays, women are more likely to protest against social expectations by posting selfies without any make-up on.

Pick another object to explore