They Took Our Music ... Now They're 'Taking' Our Lips; as Beauty Standards Change, Some White Women Are Seeking Large, Voluptuous Lips with Injections and Cosmetics (Includes Tips on Lip Care)

By Norment, Lynn | Ebony, April 1991 | Go to article overview

They Took Our Music ... Now They're 'Taking' Our Lips; as Beauty Standards Change, Some White Women Are Seeking Large, Voluptuous Lips with Injections and Cosmetics (Includes Tips on Lip Care)


Norment, Lynn, Ebony


They Took Our Music...Now They're 'Taking' Our Lips

FIRST they took our music, now they want our lips! What next?

This is a common lament in Black America today--from urban centers to suburbia to Hollywood. As the media shout the names of White stars with generous lips and those purported to have had their lips enlarged with injections, one cannot help but wonder what the heck is going on.

For decades now, but especially in recent years, an increasing number of White entertainers have tried to adopt our musical style and imitate our rhythm, and some of them have been commercially successful (Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, Madonna, George Michael, Michael Bolton, New Kids On The Block, and Vanilla Ice, to name a few). Moreover, in an effort to be fashionably tan, many pale-skinned Whites have severely damaged their skin and risked cancer by lying in the sun until they have turned darker than many of the Black people they still consider inferior.

And now they want our lips!

Our lips? Surely not the same lips that were ridiculed in racist caricatures throughout the centuries? Not the same lips that until recently kept beautiful Black women off the pages and covers of slick women's magazines? Not the lips that were the butt of racist jokes in millions of living rooms, boardrooms, ballrooms and private dining rooms? The same lips that were maligned so savagely that some Blacks were ashamed of them? Yes, it is those same big, luscious lips that are now all the rage, so much so that White women are running to doctors, begging to have their thin bird lips enlarged.

"It's a fad that has become very popular," says Dr. Pearlman Hicks, a Black plastic surgeon in Long Beach, Calif., who has noticed the trend among White women, especially in Hollywood but also elsewhere in the nation.

"I'm not surprised that White women now want larger lips," says Dr. Hicks. "Beauty standards are moving more toward homogeneous definitions. Beauty is not necessarily blond hair and blue eyes any more. Now the models,e specially in French publications, are so homogeneous that you can't tell what their background is--Asian, Black, White, Hispanic. This ethnicity is becoming the new standard of beauty, and Caucasians are having their lips enlarged, attempting to become more exotic, more beautiful."

Other specialists agree.

"It used to be full lips said you weren't White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant, which was considered negative," Dr. Arnold Klein, a Beverly Hills dermatologist, said in U.S.A. Today. "Now full lips are considered attractive, evidence of our shrinking global village."

He and other dermatologists and plastic surgeons report that lip augmentation has been increasing among celebrities for years. And on magazine covers and in fashion and beauty layouts, women with big, voluptuous, richly-colored lips have replaced those with ribbon-thin lips.

Today, the White stars, as well as ordinary women, want full mouths like entertainers Gladys Knight, Regina Belle, Chaka Khan and Donna Summer. They also want to emulate pouty-mouthed White stars such as Michelle Pfeiffer, Julia Roberts, Kim Basinger, Brigitte Bardot and Sophia Loren, all of whom have been praised for their big, sensual lips.

Actress Julia Roberts' generous lips and broad, alluring smile have inspired legions of women to rush out for collagen injections. "My lips are so big I don't have to think about it, do I?" says Roberts. "But anything anybody does to make themselves look nice, more power to them."

Actress Barbara Hershey has admitted having her lips enlarged, and Cher, Madonna and a number of other entertainers and models are sporting the new pouty look. …

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