Living in a culture that defines beauty by how symmetrical your features are, how #flawless your complexion is, or how perfect your pout is (hello Angelina Jolie, Kylie Jenner, et al.), it’s easy to fall into the trap of judging ourselves against a pretty narrow definition of beauty.
Take lips, for example. Personally, I’ve come to understand full lips as being synonymous with beauty. I’ve never had a full pout and always felt insecure about it as a teenager. Couple that with a small, recently-developed scar above my lip and suffice to say that they haven’t exactly been my favourite feature over the years.
We have a tendency to shy away from accentuating certain aspects of our appearance. We may even go to extreme lengths in order to “fix” those so-called flaws.
For me though, I’ve actually found the exact opposite to be true. By embracing bold lipsticks, I have learned to love my lips — flaws and all — and it’s been empowering in an overall sense. By drawing attention to my lips by wearing different coloured lip colours and stains, I’ve made my lips something of a signature part of my personal style.
Over time I’ve also learned to appreciate that beauty ideals are kind of arbitrary and subjective. Full lips weren’t always a thing — in ancient Indian culture a small but luscious pout was looked upon favourably, while 15th century Italians were all about the barely there vibe. Back in ye olden days, then, lips with fillers would have been considered the antithesis of beauty.
Beauty is as a concept is completely relative. Sure, different trends tend to dominate across particular cultures and moments in time, but the beauty that comes with feeling comfortable in your own skin is something that never dates. When you think about some of the most beautiful women in the world, it was actually their lack of uniformity that made them so interesting — like Kate Moss’ lopsided smile, for example, or Cindy Crawford’s distinctive beauty mark.
So yes, right now our society is infatuated with big lips — lips so big that in 2015 teens around the world took part in a terrifying DIY Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge involving shot glasses and sucking the air out of said shot glasses to deliberatly cause them to swell up. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t still beauty to be found in all different shapes and sizes. And by embracing lipstick and experimenting with different colours, I have personally discovered a few things about my own lips.
I’ve learned to appreciate their naturally pink colour, their shape and, yes, even their size. I love wearing lipstick. And if my lips really were Kylie Jenner-esque, then maybe I wouldn’t love those bold reds and playful pinks quite so much. Which is to say that lipstick has ultimately helped me to strike a personal balance that I’m comfortable with.
Who knows, perhaps now that we’ve reached one ultimate extreme, our beauty perceptions will soon swing back to the opposite end of the spectrum. Either way though, I’m happy to keep seeking beauty in the unexpected. It keeps things interesting, after all.
Words, Rosie Dalton.