The appropriation of fuller lips
19 Mar 2017
It only takes one scroll on social media, gazing through a magazine or even a glimpse at a reality TV show to know that the “fuller lip look” has swept over the Western world. Inspired by Kylie Jenner or someone of the like, there has been a huge shift in how big lips are perceived. Women of 2017 are bombarded with images of make up campaigns, celebrity endorsements and advertising on social media confirming that the fuller pout is something to envy and emulate.
However, growing up in the 90’s it seemed that the fuller lip look, whether it be fake or natural, was seen in a negative light. I can remember as a child only ever seeing the naturally fuller lip I had myself, on other black women on TV and on the very few other people of colour in my vicinity. I knew of the insults and the comments that black girls like me suffered for their lips, likened to “monkeys” and “fish” due to the unappreciated roundness of our thick lower lip. If not discriminated against, our lips were often seen as a spectacle. Sometimes even fetishised, due the lack of exposure the young white boys and girls had to black people and our aesthetic.
“Those with enough cash for regular injections get them and you cannot deny that the fuller lip look has become an overpowering trend”
This negativity was also enhanced in the 90s/00s by the stigma around those who enlarged their lips via lip fillers. This look often carried negative sexual connotations due to being sported predominantly on glamour models/scandalous celebrities such as Jordan and Jodie Marsh. By having our natural lip size juxtaposed with this reception further pushed the larger lip aesthetic into the abnormal and stigmatised. For us black girls, it seemed that the size of our lip, whether it be natural or unnatural, was perceived adversely in our society.
However, this stigma of having larger lips does not exist within our society now. Girls over-line their lips with lip liner and plumping serums can be found everywhere on the high street. Those with enough cash for regular injections get them and you cannot deny that the fuller lip look has become an overpowering trend. Seeing the millions of women now sporting this trend, I cannot help but feel really resentful.
The media will praise white celebrities who enhance their lips as “trendsetters” and “influencers”, for emulating something that black people have received hate and discrimination for. For us, this aesthetic is not a trend but a representation of our race and culture.
“We as a society need more appreciation of the black aesthetic alone, without only being appreciated through the appropriation of our features”
This “trend” shows how irrelevant the hate and ostracism that thousands of black girls like me were made to deal with was. How unnecessary it was for us to feel different and aesthetically wrong due to the size of our lips. Not only do I resent this “trend” for us, but also for the young black girls growing up now. Girls who are taught by society to only love their fuller lips because the white and wealthy have the privilege to now decide that it’s attractive. At no point has the acceptance of the fuller lip come from the appreciation of the black woman, but only of the emulation of their aesthetic amongst a backdrop of hate and disrespect. It sends a distressing message to everyone showing exactly what and who our society favours.
Nevertheless, this is not to judge the individual who seeks lip injections as they are at liberty to do as they please with their body. It’s more to show how important it is to be conscious and aware of the damaging messages about beauty and fashion we get from the media. We as a society need more appreciation of the black aesthetic alone, without only being appreciated through the appropriation of our features.