Fresh Lipstick

Linda Scott became a feminist convert–in Second Wave parlance, she had her “click moment”–in August 1970. She was 18. Full of fresh enthusiasm, she went to a consciousness-raising group at the student union to join up with the sisterhood. When she walked into the room, however, the other young women were hostile. Linda was not dressed according to the new code just then emerging among campus feminists. After enduring about half an hour of ridicule, she left.

It felt like an isolated incident. It wasn’t. The feminist dress code hardened and many more women had similar experiences.

During the 1990s, Scott began work on a book-length response to this exclusive behavior and its destructive effect on the movement. The result is Fresh Lipstick: Redressing Fashion and Feminism.

From Macmillan:

“Fresh Lipstick shakes feminist fashion down to its Birkenstocks. Linda M. Scott wants to put an end to the belief that American women have to wear a colorless, shapeless uniform to achieve liberation and equality.

A pointed attack on feminism’s requisite style of dress, Fresh Lipstick argues that wearing high heels and using hair curlers does not deny you the right to seek advancement, empowerment, and equality. Scott asserts that judging someone on her fashion choices is as detrimental to advancement as judgments based on race, nationality, or social class. Fashion is an important mode of personal expression, not an indication of submission. She demonstrates that feminism’s dogged reduction of fashion to sexual objectification has been motivated by a desire to control other women, not free them. This push for power has produced endless conflict from the movement’s earliest days, hindering advances in women’s rights by promoting exclusion. It is time for the “plain Jane” dress code of the revolution to be lifted, allowing all women to lead, even those wearing makeup and Manolos.

Marching through 150 years of American dress history, Scott rips down feminism’s favorite positions on fashion-from the power of images to the purpose of makeup. The illustrative examples-from flappers to Twiggy to body-piercing-are often poignant, occasionally infuriating, but always illuminating and thought-provoking.

With Fresh Lipstick, Linda Scott gives women the ammunition to settle the fashion debate once and for all. She challenges feminists to move beyond appearances and to return their focus to the true mission of the movement: equality for all women everywhere.”

Table of Contents:

Introduction: Tossing Down the Glove * The Natural Fallacy * Dress Reform and Domination * Making the Myth * Untold Stories, Unknown Heroines, Unconsidered Alternatives * Reading the Popular Image * The Power of Fashion * Sex, Soap, and Cinderella * Rethinking Necessities * Warring Images * Freudian Feminism and Commercial Conspiracy * Something Different * Style and Substance in the Second Wave * Exclusive Rights * Fresh Lipstick


“Though it is pro-primping, this book might make you put down the highlighting kit and grab a highlighter, becuase it’s so packed with facts and controversy. But some of its content– like an old graphic that shows Ms. Steinem as quite the style icon herself– is just plain (not plain-Jane) fun, much like fashion itself.”–Paula Wehmeyer, BUST

“Thanks to Fresh Lipstick feminism will be fashionable. For those who shun Madison Avenue as well as those who indulge their inner consumer, Linda Scott uses historical anecdotes and strong opinions to make the case for feminism to more honestly approach beauty and fashion.”–Amy Richards, co-author of Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism and the Future and Grassroots: A Field Guide to Feminist Activism

“This is a brilliant work that establishes Linda Scott as the leading academic commentator in the country on women, fashion, and advertising and our most perceptive thinker on the cultural understanding of advertising.”– Michael Schudson, author of The Good Citizen, Watergate in American Memory, and Professor of Sociology and Communications, UC-San Diego

“Wow! Linda Scott has written a fresh, provocative and fun look at feminism and fashion. For too long leading feminists have told women that everything from high heels to lipstick is oppressive. Linda Scott shows us how the most oppressive voice is the feminists themselves. With exemplary research she documents the puritanical and classist motives of the women’s movement in their judgments of fashion, and arrives at the conclusion women have been waiting for: you can be feminine and a feminist.”–Rene Denfeld, journalist and author of The New Victorians: A Young Woman’s Challenge to the Old Feminist Order

“Every once in a while a book appears that separates smoke from fire. This is one of those books. Fashion and feminism have endlessly sparked polemics, but how fair and accurate were they? On every page Linda Scott shows who the smoke blowers were. Then she lights a fire of her own that will burn for generations.”–James B. Twitchell, author of Branded Nation, Living It Up: America’s Love Affair with Luxury, and Adcult

Read Scott’s essay, “Fresh Lipstick: Rethinking the Images of Women in Advertising,” published in the Media Studies Journal.  This is the essay that led to the book.