Beauty Products and the Suffrage Movement

Emilia D. van Beugen, photographer1913/1913

Women's Suffrage Memorabilia

Women's Suffrage Memorabilia

The only example of a suffrage related cosmetic known to exist is this small 1 ¼” round box of “Votes for Women” face powder that was produced for the National Woman Suffrage Association, of which both front and back are shown here. Alva Belmont did sell various grooming products, including soaps, shampoos, and tooth powders at the “Department of Hygiene” at the New York office of her Political Equality Association.

All of the products sold by the PEA, however, were commercial brands and did not have a specific suffrage tie-in. Mrs. Belmont believed that good grooming along with the vote were both essential for women to achieve empowerment.

Some historians have attempted to link the use of those cosmetics such as rouge and lipstick that had a provocative edge to them to the liberating aims of the suffrage movement. But while many young suffragists were probably attracted to these cosmetics, the majority of older workers were not. That NAWSA did not sell rouge along with its face powder probably reflects its concern to maintain a traditional, non-threatening public posture.

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  • Title: Beauty Products and the Suffrage Movement
  • Creator: Emilia D. van Beugen, photographer
  • Date: 1913/1913