As we’ve discussed on this very website before Brits had a pretty shit time of it during WW2, what with the German’s bombing the everloving shit out of them 24/7 and the prospect of being forced to pass gargantuan anus-annihilating turds if one of said bombs managed to hit a supply ship. On top of all that though the women of Britain were guilted into covering their legs in gravy unless they wanted to be accused of being in league with Hitler!
To explain, because that sentence is probably raising at least a few questions in people’s minds, while the men of Britain were off shooting Germans the women they left behind were basically left to run the country in their stead. Which must have been at least a little awkward initially considering men had spent the last few centuries telling women they were too delicate for anything more strenuous than a brisk walk and then expected them to suddenly be able to run munitions factories and shit.
So what has this got to do with women gravy-ing up their gams? Well as the old adage goes, women are frequently expected to do everything men do, just backwards and in high heels and WW2 was no different. Specifically there was a massive push from the government for women to quite literally, keep up appearances while farming the land or making tank shells.
Which sounds like bullshit, right? We mean the country was being bombed into oblivion 7 nights a week and half the population was trying to crush the Nazi war machine whilst the other half was feverishly building the bombs and bullets required to do so. Surely nobody gave a shit about looking good. Which was kind of the issue.
You see, many women found working for themselves quite liberating and many more were quite relieved to not have to worry about slapping on half a pound of makeup before leaving the house. Since well, all the men worth fucking were at war. The problem was, the government didn’t like the idea of women not looking their best and were genuinely worried it’d be bad for the morale of the country (read:men) if women didn’t look catwalk ready and down to fuck at a moment’s notice. So much so they literally released ads telling women that, we shit you not –
A major dick move we can all agree but it gets just a little bit worse because while the government was endorsing ads like the one above, they were also rationing the fuck out of the makeup products they wanted them to wear to such an extent they were virtually unobtainable for the entire duration of the war. Something a lot of cosmetic manufacturers were keenly aware of and decided to keep advertising anyway out of fear if women were being constantly bombarded with imagery telling them they looked like shit, they’d stop buying makeup when it was available to buy.
But we’re not done yet because in addition to all this, the government decided to twist the knife just a little more by telling women that if they didn’t wear makeup (which remember they literally couldn’t buy anywhere) they’d be supporting HITLER! How? Well a lesser known dislike of Hitler’s was makeup with history’s biggest dipshit being known to openly criticise women for wearing it in his presence. You know, just in case you needed another reason to dislike Hitler.
Anyway, with so much pressure to look their best and no practical way to actually achieve that, women came up with some, shall we say, novel solutions. Doing things like covering their legs in gravy to give the illusion of wearing tights or smear bootblack around their eyes to simulate the effect of mascara.
While admittedly this was a pretty shitty thing to force on women who were already, if you recall, running the fucking country, there were a few positives. For one, lack of materials meant women could get away with wearing shorter skirts, lower cut blouses and even forgo wearing underwear if they felt like it. Likewise, being forced to make their own makeup allowed women to experiment with bolder looks. Especially since they’d mostly be around other women who’d similarly share their new ideas for killing it at the munitions factory. We mean, if the Germans hadn’t bombed the shit out of it.
But hey, since when has being a fashion pioneer ever come without risk?