There's a common misperception surrounding beauty standards and the black woman. Historically, black women have been the "purveyors of curves," which includes our thick thighs, small waists, big butts, big breasts, and full lips. I would say I have 4 out of 5. But just like all of us aren't naturally blessed with an abundance of tits and ass, all of us aren't blessed with a Kerry Washington pout. While many women of color are fortunate to naturally be shaped like a "brick house" with body and lips galore, not everyone has that genetic makeup. It was one of the reasons I found myself sitting in the doctor's office last December, waiting to get lip injections. Yes, you read that right, lip injections.
I'm not sure where my dislike for my lips began – or if I would even call it a "dislike." I think I first started noticing I wasn't happy with them four years ago. It was January 2014 and my shoulder-length hair, that I had long associated with being a woman, had fallen out after trusting the wrong stylist. Without my hair, I became more aware of my face shape and the strength of my features. I looked more androgynous and felt that, along with my hair, my femininity now evaded me.
Lip injections wasn't the first place that my mind went to help me feel a little more womanly.
I started with my brows. As an entertainment journalist who does a lot of on-camera celebrity interviews at press junkets and the like, I had begun to feel like something was missing. After failing miserably a handful of times to fill in my brows myself, a makeup artist suggested I look into microblading, a process that would permanently fill in my brows. Call me naive but it was shocking to me to learn that many people were waking up with full brows as the result of microblading. After researching the procedure, I had my brows tattooed (known as "powder brow") in July 2016.
With my hair slowly growing back and my new eyebrows on fleek, I was also interested in fuller lips in hopes of looking less androgynous and more feminine. It was around that time that I started seeing fuller lips start to trend, so much so that every cosmetic brand seemed to be coming out with their own version of an "injection gloss," promising fuller lips. I have lips, but I wouldn't have minded them being a little more pronounced.
Out of curiosity, I purchased several of these glosses, but quickly discovered they were just a gimmick and a waste of money.
Still, I tried to be content with my small lips and I looked for "natural" remedies for fuller lips, which included homemade concoctions like mixing coconut oil with cayenne pepper.
I quickly grew tired of trying to mix potions in the kitchen, so I decided to up the ante and look into more long-term options for fuller lips. I had known about lip fillers for a minute, but admittedly, I second-guessed my desire to have them as a real possibility because I was convinced it was something black women didn't "do."
But, I found a handful of beauty vloggers online that were women of color that showed me differently. Dymond Goods, AliyahsFace, and DollFaceBeautyx were all transparent about their journeys and experiences with lip fillers. And their transparency helped to further affirm that I wanted my lips done too.
New year, new lips was the motto. I made my appointment for December 19 at LaserAway in Santa Monica where, one of the beauty vloggers that inspired my decision, Dymond Goods, had gotten her lips done. As I sat with the ice pack on my mouth and waited for the nurse to prep the needle, I thought briefly about the harsh comments I'd probably be met with for choosing to be candid about my experience:
"But your lips were fine…"
"You should just be happy with what God gave you…"
"Embrace your natural beauty…"
"You're black, your lips are already full!"
"You must not love yourself if you would alter yourself…"
I believe it's semantics to say it's "okay" to take a needle to permanently put ink on your body or holes through your ears, nose or belly button, yet it's abhorrent to take a needle with a natural acid that's also used medically to temporarily enhance your lips.
Note: lip fillers are not permanent.
The product used was Juvederm Ultra, which is made of hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring component within your body.
So, lip injections only last about six months to a year as the product dissolves and your lips will return to their normal size if you choose not to get a refill. The time it takes for the product to dissolve is also dependent upon how much is used in the procedure. I only used half a syringe because I didn't want my lips to look obnoxiously obvious. But the results are so subtle that my roommate who's been my friend for over ten years hasn't noticed.
Weeks later, I confidently say that I plan to go back to LaserAway to finish the syringe. Having gone through the thirty-minute process once and the pain of the needle being a 5 out of 10, I think my lips can be even fuller.
Left - Before Lip Injections, Right - After Lip Injections
In speaking with Dymond prior to my procedure about criticism she's received online, she poignantly reiterated that "Self-improvement isn't self-hate," and I wholeheartedly agree.
There was once a time when I was self-conscious about my skin tone and my weight, but I'm so elated to have come to a really great space of self-love. Long before the lip injections, I came to a place of wholeness where I began to walk into a room with a big blonde afro, red lipstick and my best accessory, my self-confidence.
Just like my eyebrows, fuller lips simply help to further accentuate my look, it's an accessory.
Regardless of what objections others may have, I encourage you to do whatever helps you to feel like your best self. Sometimes it's as simple as getting your hair done, beating your face, or buying designer clothes. Other times feeling like your best self may be a more invasive process like braces to fix a crooked smile, and for others it's liposuction or breast implants.
Regardless of what your "fix" may be, we have one life to live, do whatever makes you happy.
Would you consider getting lip injections? Why or why not? Sound off in the comment section below.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Watching Angela “Blac Chyna” White’s transformation in real-time has truly been a sight to see. It wasn’t that long ago that she announced that she was reversing her cosmetic surgeries in an effort to go back to who she was before the world came to know her as Blac Chyna. In previous interviews, she stated that she was dissolving her facial and lip fillers, removing her breast implants, and getting a butt reduction, as well as removing the dimple piercings that enhanced her fame and controversial tattoos.
In a recent Tamron Hall interview, the mother of two said that she has “fully recovered” from the procedures. She is also celebrating one year of sobriety and opened up about being worried about how her new journey would be received by others.
“I’ve been in the entertainment industry for so long, right, and of course, like, you know, coming out, I’m like young, I’m gonna do wild things as we all have,” she said.
“...I feel like by me being vocal and showing everybody you can change your life and things can get better, like through myself, that right there is an accomplishment, and that’s a part of freedom, too.”
But as she started on her journey, many people have shown her grace, which is something she’s grateful for. “And then the fact that people have been showing me grace, it’s like amazing,” she said. “And I feel like when I did it, I just did it. It was more so like spiritual thing and I feel like people see that, and I’ve always been like my authentic self, so what you see is kinda what you get with me, and that’s just kinda what it is.”
Chyna, who recently received an honorary doctorate from Sacramento Theology Seminary and Bible College, has also repaired her relationship with her mom, Tokyo Toni. The social media celebrity surprised her daughter on the Tamron Hall Show. Prior to the sentimental surprise, Chyna dished on the reconciliation and having a better understanding of her mom.
“I must say, some of the things I have to take accountability for because, like my actions. As a mother, you don’t want to see your daughter doing certain things ‘cause it’s like it doesn’t matter what my past was or what we’re going through, I didn’t raise you that way,” she admitted. “So, it’s like, okay, maybe I was a little bit wrong. Maybe I was acting out a little bit. But I feel like as we grow older, I kinda see more, and I understand more.”
Chyna will be starring in season two of Fox's reality competition show Special Forces: World's Toughest Test.
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Feature image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images