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pucker up, ladies: it’s liptember!

Paint that smile and pucker up – the word on every woman’s lips this month is ‘Liptember’.

Liptember is a yearly, month-long campaign running from the 1st to the 30th of September. Just like the ever-popular November campaign, Movember, which aims to raise funds and awareness for the two biggest health issues faced by men—prostate cancer and depression—Liptember aims to do the same. (Sans focus on prostate health, of course!)

Liptember’s mission is to raise funds and awareness for women’s mental health issues, improve the health and wellbeing of all women in Australia, and gain valuable insight into those issues and the reasons behind them.

While it’s recognised that each gender has different mental health issues, research on women-specific mental health is scarce, as are education and training resources for health professionals caring for women experiencing mental health problems. The Liptember campaign hopes to change that.

Did you know that women are more susceptible to anxiety and depression than men are, with women being particularly at risk during puberty, after the birth of a child, and during menopause? In fact, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and affects a woman’s relationships and her ability to function in society.

Worryingly, almost 1 young woman in every 3 will suffer from anxiety or depression in her lifetime, and 15% will suffer from post-natal depression. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Causes of Death Australia, 2009, suicide is the leading cause of death for Australian women under the age of 34; women are more likely to deliberately injure themselves than men; and up to 90% of people who suicide may have been experiencing a mental disorder at the time of their death.

According to Lifeline Australia, Australia’s 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention service, 800 of the 1200 calls taken daily by the organisation are from women—that’s a staggering 66%!—with the caller’s own mental health the second-highest issue discussed.

‘So how can we get involved?!’

I’m glad you asked.

1. Buy the Official Liptember Lippy by Burt’s Bees from selected counters at any Myer store nationwide—the colour is ‘hibiscus’ and it’s a lovely shade of pink;
2. Register online at;
3. Seek sponsorship from family, friends and co-workers for wearing the lippy throughout the month of September.

All funds raised go directly to The Centre for Women’s Mental Health, Australia’s only centre for education, research and training in women’s mental health, which provides national research and programs for gender-specific mental health issues for women; and Lifeline Australia.

And with a posse of Aussie ambassadors including, Channel 9 presenter Kelly Landry, music icon Molly Meldrum, Olympic gold medallist Lydia Lassila, Celebrity Chef Philippa Sibley, and International model Alyse Co’Cliff, why wouldn’t you want to get involved?

Visit Liptember on facebook, Twitter, and at their official website.

(Image credit: 1.)

5 thoughts on “pucker up, ladies: it’s liptember!

  1. I’ll be the first person to say how important it is that mental heath issues are highlighted in our society, yet I have to take issue with how this campaign chooses to go about it. Lipstick is thought to have originally been used because it is reminiscent of a woman’s labia. This emphasis of the vagina serves to label women as sexual objects – hardly something that promotes good self-esteem. You may be skeptical of the lipstick-as-labia theory; then consider the role that the makeup/beauty industry plays in the women’s lives. There is constant pressure on every woman to always be looking her best – she is a failure if she doesn’t conform to Western society’s standards. So how does she avoid this? With dieting and hair dye and waxing and plucking and MAKEUP. How can this not lead to feelings of insecurity and self-disatisfaction, and, sadly, depression and anxiety too? I’m not saying that using lipstick causes depression, of course not; but along with everything else, it reinforces the message that women are worthless unless they are ‘beautiful’.

    Once again, I applaud the aim of the campaign. But maybe the organisers should have thought a little bit harder before they decided to encourage women to fight this fight using the very thing that is a symbol of their continuing subjugation.

  2. Pingback: Welcome to Monday ~ September 12 2011 | feminaust ~ for australian feminism

  3. I can completely see where your coming from, and I agree that the image obsession does have a really detrimental affect on women and their mental health, but I also think that, historically, lipstick has had a good affect as well – whether or not you agree with many women’s desire to be ‘beautiful’.
    In the great depression, it was either Elizabeth Arden or Estee Lauder who discovered that no matter how poor, filthy, or down trodden a woman was, all she needed was a lipstick – no other makeup, just lipstick – to feel beautiful. Whether or not you agree that the search to be beautiful is healthy – and it does have some shockingly unhealthy consequences – feeling beautiful is a good thing.
    I also think that, for better or worse, things like makeup – and particularly visible makeup like lipstick – is inherently associated with being a ‘typical’ women. Of course, there are women – my mother, for instance – who have never once worn makeup in their life. But using a symbol that is tied to both womanhood and some of the trials and tribulations of what it means to be a woman as a symbol for awareness of women’s mental health feels to me just like using bras as a symbol for breast cancer – harmless, a bit obvious, but an on the whole appropriate symbol for the cause.
    However, as I said, I can see where your opinion is coming from. Associating make up, which is an almost daily stressor on many women, with mental health could be seen as a thoughtless move. I just personally think it makes sense from a marketing point of view. And of course, the cause is incredibly worthy and deserves as much support as possible.
    Whew, that was a long winded comment!

  4. I whole heartedly support the cause- I think it is absolutely fantastic! However, I too have misgivings about the campaign using lipstick to raise awareness of the role gender plays in women’s mental health. For one, given how common lipstick is it’s a bit like saying “wear shoes to raise awareness of X”- who will notice? Secondly lipstick is an incredibly loaded symbol- it’s associated with beauty (and the beauty industry), attractiveness, sex. Given the kinds of issues in womens mental health include higher rates of sexual abuse and trauma related mental health issues, and higher rates of eating disorders and struggles with body image it seems a bit perverse somehow to use lipstick of all things. Also one of the images I saw that was associated with this campaign was of a young model, seemingly naked, not looking at the camera and with her head to the side, lips vertical- hardly an image of a woman with something to say! The image may not be in the final website- but the fact it was there at all seems strange to me. Hmm- I think it could have been better thought through.

  5. P.S Ruby I think you are right “It makes sense from a marketing point of view”- but i think that might just be the problem. It seems to me that a marketing company was paid to develop a campaign with very little insight into the issues. What is the point of having an awareness raising campaign if it doesn’t communicate the message? At best you get a loose association. I don’t know maybe that is enough- it gets media where people can then actually talk about the issues with some degree of depth. Even so I think with a bit of creativity one could think of an equally as catchy campaign without such an ironic symbol (the campaign doesnt seem to acknowledge the irony either which is worse). I work in this area- the unfortunate thing is that I suspect this ‘lipstick’ campaign might get less traction and support from the “frontline” than the issue demands, especially when services really need to prioritise their resources.

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