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Musogyny: Has Lipstick Become a Sticking Point?

Everyone knows it is a man’s world out there (thanks James Brown) but there is none more so than the big bad world of music. From Miley’s twerking to Sinead’s open letter shaming, these last few months have seen an upward trajectory in the debate around gender issues within music.

Rest assured that we here at PlanetNotion will be keeping a keen eye on all things sexism and there may even be some naming and shaming along the way.

Sexism can spring from everywhere but more often than not what women wear will eventually wade into the debate; whether that’s sluts walking across the world, the Daily Mail having a sneaky peek at Amanda Palmer’s boob  or a misguided male Fox newsreader asking why “female Grammy performers have to dress up like street corner floozy?” on Twitter.

Whilst nakedness and sexuality seem eternally interwoven within the sexist debate, there are many other ways women choose to express their femininity through their appearance and for some reason red lipstick is often the sticking point.

It’s unfathomable that such a small slick of shade has caused so much trouble over the years, but it’s a pattern that whenever a society wants to tone itself down, it’s women’s lipstick is the first thing to go. From the polar extremities of the Taliban banning it within Afghanistan to Turkish Airlines wiping it from the faces of air hostesses a mile high, it very much seems more susceptible to punishment than any other beauty product.

Now voice of the nation, our hallowed BBC are waging war on it as they prise it out of the hands of sweet young soul musician Dionne Bromfield in a disapproval of red lips across the youth-focused CBBC network.

In what can only be described as an attempt to turn over a new leaf when it comes to the sexualisation of young children, CBBC Executive Editor Melissa Hardinge has told kids presenters, like Bromfield, actress Shannon Flynn and the ever cheery Blue Peter first lady Helen Skelton, that they must by “fantastic female role models” and that she goes “onto the floor of Friday Download and makes them take their red lipstick off…”

From the outside Dionne Bromfield, at 17-years-old, is already a fantastic role model. She has released albums successfully, performed all over the world and is already a strong female role model for children… all whether she is wearing red lipstick or not.

Whilst agreeing that some adult fashions should be toned down for the sake of younger generations when it comes to decency for both men and women, there is something archaic about banning red lip make-up on adult females.

Surely if someone chooses to wear anything on their face, it should be their choice of what’s appropriate and for their own self-worth. Red lipstick is only synonymous with being sexy if society makes it so and surely musicians like Dionne Bromfield do not use it as a way to insight premature sexualisation in others, especially when hosting a children’s TV show like Friday Download.

The problem with this kneejerk reaction by CBBC to reinstate order into children’s television, which let’s face it has taken some knocking over the last couple of years, is that by banning red lipstick it makes it a taboo, and it and the women that choose to wear it become the bad guy.

It pushes the view that children shouldn’t take inspiration from or aspire to look like someone wearing red lips. Instead children should be taught that whilst wearing lipstick is for reserved for adults, it won’t make you a bad role model. Maybe some women want to wear it because they think it looks nice and maybe that it is okay.

- Sarah Joy

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