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In the shade of lipstick and the thickness of eyeliner, one could tell where a woman stood in the dense atmosphere of change in the 1960s. Throughout the decade, women wore their politics on their faces. The array of different beauty trends that arose in 1960s America “mirrored more radical conflicts over sexuality, social life, and politics.” This paper argues that the social movements of the sixties influenced cosmetic trends among women, creating a rapid diversification of beauty standards unseen in previous decades. Beauty standards set in the 1940s and 1950s completely transformed in the 1960s due to prevailing social and political movements. This paper analyzes the changing beauty trends within several key movements of the sixties: the rise of mod, the counter-culture, the Women’s Movement, the Civil Rights Movement and conservatism. What young white teenagers wanted to achieve with their “mod” look was drastically different from than the feminists’ goals. African American women employed cosmetics to make statements about inclusiveness and to celebrate diversity whereas conservative women used make-up to maintain beauty standards set in the 1950s. This paper explains the importance of makeup as a symbol of female empowerment during a political turning point in American history.

Keywords: Beauty, Gender, Women, Cosmetics, 1960s, female empowerment, Feminism, Women’s History


This is a metadata-only record.



  • Subject
    • History, Anthropology, & Philosophy

  • Institution
    • Gainesville

  • Event location
    • Library Technology Center 369

  • Event date
    • 24 March 2017

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Dr. Dee Gillespie