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Why I Decided To Get Lip Injections

I Tried It

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.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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