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.
I had known about lip injections 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.