Angel Locsin, her generation's Darna, picks her weapons well. For her most recent fight against a general who is chasing celebrities online over their alleged links to the communist insurgency—she painted her lips red.
Locsin's clap back against Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade spawned the #NoToRedTagging #YesToRedLipstick campaign on social media. Putting on red lipstick became a symbol of protest against Parlade's drive and the larger problem of gender-based abuse.
"I am also appealing to everyone to express support for those being red-tagged like Liza Soberano, Catriona Grey, and all the others just because they are expressing their beliefs peacefully. By being vocal about my opinions and advocacies, I have always been attacked. Those I could ignore but this is a different level altogether," said Locsin in an Instagram post.
Over a decade since she hung her red Darna bikini and knee high boots, Locsin's philantrophy and activism has earned her a reputation as a real-life superhero.
She ignored body-shamers who noticed her quarantine weight gain and raised P11 million for isolation tents and personal protective gear. She also rallied her ABS-CBN colleagues against Congress' denial of the network's franchise renewal.
Never has the red lipstick been this in vogue despite a mask-wearing a pandemic. But why the red lipstick?
Red equals power
A bold red lip signifies many things depending on who sees it. Some find it threatening as it exudes danger and aggression, while others find it passionate which is why it is often used to signify attraction. But regardless of what perceivers think of it, one thing has always been constant: red lipstick is a symbol of women's power.
In the podcast, "The Takeaway", author Madeleine Marsh who wrote the book "Compacts and Cosmetics," said red lipstick "is in fact more than anything else about female strength." New Yorkers fought for the American woman's right to vote by wearing red lipstick.
"It's about much more than that because it shows us what we expect women to be at particular periods," said Marsh. "During the war, having your lipstick on was part of your fight against the enemy," she said. Even Adolf Hitler of Nazi Germany hated the red lip that he banned women from wearing it.
In the Philippines, Angel Locsin wasn't the first one to use makeup for empowerment. Twitter user @bagnetsilog posted pages from Vina Lanzona’s Amazons of the Huk Rebellion, featuring Kumander Liwayway of Hukbalahap, the resistance to the Japanese invasion during World War II.
Liwayway "always combed her hair, manicured and polished her nails, and applied lipstick before going into battle," saying that grooming herself inspired confidence in her that guerillas under her command were convinced that their leader was fearless and calm. But she also had another explanation, wrote Lanzona.
"I am also fighting for the right to be myself," the commander said.
Red is self-expression
New York Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez rose to political popularity in recent years after defeating a 10-term incumbent through a grassroots campaign. Since then, GenZs have been looking to her because of her progressive views on politics, and the bold red lip became one of her signatures.
"Even I feel a little more oomph with a red lip on," she said in her video for Vogue where she walked viewers through not just her routine, but her views on the politics of beauty.
"What we are also seeing all too often is that there are studies who show that women who regularly wear a decent amount of makeup, who show up to the office and glam, also make more money," she said.
"And so at that point, these calculations and decisions, it stops being about choice and it starts being about patriarchy where if we look attractive to men, then we will be compensated more. And that for me is the complete antithesis of what beauty should be about. I think beauty should be about the person who is applying it," the congresswoman said.
Marsh, the book author, said wearing a red lip should never be about the male gaze. "I think men don't really notice a lot of the time. It really comes down to how you feel about yourself, and that makes you attractive," she said.