Why Are We Obsessed With Obtaining Large Lips?

The other day I was scouring through Facebook and I happened across a product that introduced me to society's seeming obsession with full lips: A lip enhancing tool called BioLips. I was absolutely amazed at the short video, which portrays a woman showing viewers her lips, using the natural lip enhancer, and then showing off an incredibly powerful pout at the end. I'll admit I was mesmerized.

Until watching this video, I had been completely oblivious to the fact that natural lip enhancers existed. After a bit of journalistic digging (one of my favorite pastimes), I found a myriad of similar products on the market. How could I have missed this huge beauty trend? Where had I been? Hiding under a rock? Then it dawned on me: I have obviously never truly desired larger lips... Until now.

The BioLips website says BioLips are "for people not wanting surgery or afraid of needles, as it provides a safe, natural, and instant way of enhancing the lips." They also state that BioLips is an "easy tool for fuller lips." We all know there are certain celebrity pouts that we would all love to steal. Some of the most popular, plump lip contenders are: Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson, and the lip "it girl" of the moment, the luscious-lipped Kylie Jenner. So can natural lip enhancers like BioLips really give us the celebrity pout we crave so desperately?

The only other option to natural enhancers is, of course, lip surgery. However, when it doesn't quite go to plan, the results can end up far from what the patient initially desired. It seems unfair that when celebrities' lip surgeries (or any surgery for that matter) go "wrong," not only are they covered all over the media, but the individual has to live with the results and possibly have the procedure corrected. There are enough "botched lip surgery" photos out there to put anyone off the procedure.

Curious about how quickly I began to crave plumper lips — in what I quickly realized is a beauty obsession overall — I asked some of my nearest and dearest what they think about lip enhancement:

"I would love to have lips like Georgia May Jagger! And although I probably would pay to have them made larger, I don't think there is any technology in place currently that feels safe and is 100 percent successful. It seems a bit hit or miss as to whether you end up with a gorgeous Jolie pout or a fish face. I wouldn't take that risk at the moment. I'd also be more likely to enhance my own if there was a more natural treatment that was effective." — Amy Simmons, Art Producer.
"To be honest, yes, I would increase my lip size if I could! But I wouldn't do it by using plastic surgery because of the complications and side effects that could occur. Plastic surgery has only been around a short while, so we have no idea of the long term damage it could cause. I would quite like to try the Fullips Lip Enhancer, but don't think I could be bothered with the hassle of using it every few hours, everyday, especially for the price. So for now, I just use a nice bold lipstick and lipliner to enhance them!" — Sian Alexandria Leach, Designer.
"Make the best of what you have got... Don't change your natural physique." — Maria Thirlwell, Recruitment Consultant.

Out of these select women, it appears the majority would try a natural lip enhancing method, but all would stay away from surgical lip procedures. However, it also seems that even natural lip enhancing methods can go "wrong."

The Daily Mail reported that a woman was left with a "huge trout pout" after using CandyLipz. The Australian 24-year-old, Brittany Forster, used the lip enhancing product for just two minutes and she was left looking like a completely different person. "It’s quite a painful experience," Forster told The Daily Mail. She had been trying to copy the style of Kylie Jenner's lips but four days after the application, her lips were still bruised. However, Forster reported that she didn't blame CandyLipz for this as in their instruction leaflet they warn users of similar outcomes. It appears that in Ms. Forster's case (and that of so many others), she was willing to suffer pain for her beauty ideal.

It could be argued that natural lip enhancers appear to be a temporary "fix." CandyLipz state on their website, "On average, the appearance of enlarged lips may last between one and one-half to two hours." But they inform, "With daily long-term use, this look may last for up to four hours or longer," so it's up to the user how often they wish to use the product.

I'm not sure about you, but after discovering the pros and cons of natural and surgical lip enhancement, my personal (and very short lived) quest for big lips ends here. Upon discussing this topic with my mother, she said to me, "I wouldn't use anything, we all need to look and be different and celebrate our diversity." Wise words indeed. Whilst it's possible that this obsession has been around for decades (since Marilyn Monroe's pout and even earlier) the reality is that it's yet another impossible beauty standard rooted in, well, nothing. Except, perhaps, antiquated notions of what it means to be a woman — what it means to be feminine. If you ask me, it's about time we embrace our thin lips, and every other aspect of ourselves, too.

Images: Getty; YouTube; Giphy