It’s 2016 and society’s beauty obsessions can be pretty much summed up by looking at a picture of the Kardashians: curves, off the runway fashions, body sculpting plastic surgery, and Kylie’s trademark full lips.
After the public was exposed to her plumped up lips, which she claims are due to non-permanent injections, the original consensus was shock and dislike. Many saw it as a fake look and the fullness being way overdone. Some went as far as to compare the look to an allergic reaction to bee stings.
However, it did not take long for the look to catch fire and become the hottest beauty fad. Kylie has successfully marketed lip kits so every teen girl can achieve the same look as her—or as close as one can get without cosmetic, permanent, alterations.
So what is it that makes this look desirable? Is it the actual fullness of the lips, or is it the desire to achieve a look that is projected as beautiful by the media and popular opinion? If Kylie was not famous, just seen out at the mall as a regular young woman, would her lips be coveted or disregarded? I think for females, the appeal is the achievement of acceptance by the majority. One may think, “If I use this lip kit and create the Kylie Jenner appearance, I’ll be seen as beautiful and accepted, because she is too.”
For males, I think there may be a scientific explanation as to why it’s attractive to some. Research shows that men are most attracted to a woman’s lips over any other facial feature. When a woman’s lips are more prominent than average, a male’s eyes are drawn to her more easily, and he’ll have a hard time looking away. A study at Manchester University, involving tracking eye movements, studied the gazes of 50 males as they looked at pictures of women. “Full lips were deemed to be the most attractive feature…the men gazed at their lips for an average of seven seconds” (Daily Mail). Dr. Beattie led the research project and said that the study proves lips are one of the most sensual aspects of a woman’s body, and have a special role in human attraction. Full lips achieve male fixation (Daily Mail).
So, perhaps this science gives us some insight into why there is a Kylie Jenner obsession— why people can’t stop talking, tweeting, and posting pictures of her lips. For males, it’s a biological attraction. For females, knowing this attraction exists and wanting to live up to the expectations of beauty—to be valued by others—is the drive.
Reference: Daily Mail
Author: Emily Simpson, Psychology Intern (UCF)
Emily is a dual-degree seeking student in psychology and communication disorders, with minors in biomedical sciences and nonprofit management. Emily plans on getting her master’s degree in neuroscience then going to medical school. Emily wants to become a doctor of neurology, specializing in disorders affecting communication.