Updated: Jul 18, 2018
By: Shantia Cross
I was always teased for having big lips.
My very outspoken and beautiful big-lipped family would talk about how big and beautiful my lips were, knowing that it ran in the family.
However, school was a different story.
In seventh grade, I was being bullied by boys and girls in my class (which the teacher claimed was “harmless fun”). They would often make fun of me and my lips. The names that they had come up with and defined me by were the following: “Monkey,” “Banana Lips,” “Fat Lips,” “Bubble Lip,” and so on and so forth. They would make fun of my lips, my mother’s lips and call us “the monkey family.”
I began to hate my lips and wished that they were “normal.” Whatever that meant.
Fast forward to 2014, I was in 11th grade and the buzz that got the girls at school going was that Kylie Jenner was accused of having lip fillers, which she constantly denied for two years. It wasn’t until 2016 when Jenner fessed up to getting them.
All of a sudden, my lips were appreciated; but not in the way I appreciated them.
Instead, I would see girls at school over lining their lips or using plumping glosses and suction cups just to make their lips bigger. I would get Instagram comments on every selfie telling me how big and beautiful my lips were, or my friends would tell me how jealous they were, but truth be told, I still hated my lips even then.
By the time I started university, I got used to seeing other girls with big lips like me. Some were obviously filler and others were big natural and beautiful like mine. Big was in and I had finally grown confidence and started to appreciate my lip structure. Especially when I wore my favourite red lipstick.
Jenner has made a million-dollar make-up brand (900 million dollars to be exact) based around her big lips. Her lips are what she used as an “advantage” for other girls to buy her products because they were “kits” that can get you closer to having lips like hers without the injections.
Recently, Kylie Jenner just got her lip fillers taken out.
I was scrolling through Instagram and saw a recent selfie she took. I squinted my eyes and thought to myself that she looked different but couldn’t exactly pinpoint what it was. It wasn’t until someone else in her comments noticed the change, which Kylie responded to saying, “I removed all of my lip filler.”
Publications were reporting it as breaking news and calling it “the end of a lip filler era.” Elle UK even hinted that it could be the start of a new trend “sans filler.”
I was bothered, physically uncomfortable. All I could feel was anger.
My lips are not a trend. I, a black woman, felt like I was being belittled and shunned as publications started focusing on “small lip trends,” and “colours that will look great on small lips” or “how to have big lips but not actually have big lips.”
I read comments under old pictures of Jenner, where people were saying that they were glad she got rid of her fillers. That big lips were ugly and how she looks beautiful no matter what she does.
I felt hurt, because here I was spending years trying to gain my confidence in my looks, and yet for her she was getting approval from the left, right, and centre.
My mind then went to thinking about all the other women of colour that have to go through this. Hating our skin but seeing it as a beauty trend, not wanting to celebrate our culture but seeing it as an accessory at a festival.
I’ll say it again: My lips are not a trend. There is no “end of an era for big lips.” I am beautiful big-lipped woman. I appreciate my big lips that I’ve fought so hard to accept.
I will not be a trend that can be easily replaced.