The Latest Plastic Surgery Trend Is Not Closing Your Lips
The Latest Plastic Surgery Trend Is Not Closing Your Lips
I believe people can do what they want to their bodies — but understanding why we do it is a bit more complicated
I’m probably what you’d call a “chapstick lesbian,” even though I don’t really identify as a lesbian, but that’s another story for another time. I’ll occasionally fill in my eyebrows and slick on some mascara, but that’s about it. I’ve even been known to let my Hungarian lady mustache go too long between self-waxing sessions. That said, I’m always intrigued when I hear about the latest beauty trends, and when I first saw the keyhole pout appear in my Instagram feed, I was fascinated.
This new lip-plumping technique aims to “create a hole in between the top and bottom lip for a perfect, sexy pout.” In other words, women’s lips are intentionally jammed with fillers so that they literally can’t close their lips. To get this look, nurses and medical aestheticians place a decorative ribbon or a piece of floss on a woman’s lips while injecting a hyaluronic acid-based filler, such as Juvéderm Volbella, Vollure, or Restylane. The procedure takes around 10 minutes and costs anywhere from $550 to $2,000.
Plump lips have been in vogue for ages, and it’s easy to see why — nothing suggests a healthy woman in her fertile prime like a juicy pout. Many attribute this spike in mainstream popularity to the Kardashian clan. In fact, after a May 2015 episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians previewed 17-year-old Kylie Jenner’s augmented lips, Google searches for lip fillers peaked around the globe. Unsurprisingly, there was a 66% increase in lip augmentations for 18- to 55-plus-year-olds between 2000 and 2018, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ 2018 report.
Looking like you can conceive at the drop of a proverbial hat really is the ultimate goal of beauty trends, after all. Take blush, for example. A flush of color on your cheeks suggests you’re primed and ready for a bun in the oven. If you’re someone who ovulates, you may have experienced the bizarre primal dance of someone wafting your pheromones while simultaneously salivating. Our bodies and brains tell us we’re on this earth to procreate, even if that goes against our personal agendas.
Plump lips have been en vogue for ages, and it’s easy to see why; nothing suggests a healthy woman in her fertile prime like a juicy pout.
The keyhole pout truly takes this to the next level, though. I really can’t go further without stating the obvious: A mouth with a permanent hole seems to have a rather suggestive connotation involving phalluses. Not only are women artificially plumping their pouts to advertise — you guessed it — fertility, but they’re also implying that they can get down with non-baby-making activities, too.
Now, I’m sex-positive, and I don’t believe sex exists just so we can procreate (hello, I’m queer, no babies here). I just find it a bit concerning that we’ve taken beautification to a whole new level of pleasing men. So much of our lives revolve around pleasing men, from waxing an aforementioned mustache to keeping quiet when a dude gropes you. As women, we must be small, hairless, and always DTF.
I love this tweet about men’s expectations of women because it truly encompasses the absurdity of female beauty standards: “Men writing women characters: She was beautiful but didn’t know it. She was 5’7 and 101 pounds. Her feet were size 3. Her hat size was Infant. She’d never thrown up, even once. Her periods lasted 45 minutes. Her top was see-through.”
Now, I actually love makeup, but I love it for me. If I wake up with serotonin levels akin to the amount of water in the Mojave Desert (spoiler: nonexistent), there’s nothing like a bit of mascara and concealer to boost my equally extinct self-confidence. Like I said, though, I do it for me. My partner actually prefers me without makeup, but as I often tell them, “Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s mood-altering drugs paired with overpriced liquid to mask my dark circles.” (I don’t actually say that, but you get the picture).
I also think that part of feminism is allowing women to do as they please. It’s nuanced, though, because I can’t help but feel discouraged when I read that Americans spent $16.5 billion on plastic surgery in 2018 alone. Breast augmentation was the most popular procedure in 2018, coming in at a whopping 313,735. Again, if larger breasts bring you deep and boundless joy, then that’s fantastic. If you’re doing it to appease the male gaze, though, I worry. I worry because women are putting themselves through painful procedures just to look young, voluptuous, and yes, fertile.
I also know that I don’t fit into our society’s standards of beauty. I have short hair, intermittently hairy legs, and, depending on my energy levels, my glorious mustache. I didn’t come out until I was 27, but for the first few decades of my life, I subconsciously dressed to avert the male gaze. I even wore sports bras so my chest wasn’t a focal point. Of course I hate getting catcalled, but I hate even getting hit on by men. It feels like such an invasion of space, and to be honest, it feels threatening. So maybe I’m the wrong person to write this essay.
I worry because women are putting themselves through painful procedures just to look young, voluptuous, and yes, fertile.
All I know is this: We’ve told young girls for centuries that beauty is pain. I bought into that for a while — I’ve gotten Brazilian waxes, and yes, the pain of caked wax tugging at your labia is even more excruciating than you can imagine. Yet beauty trends come and go. If a model goes full bush, women break up with their aestheticians faster than you can say “vajazzle.” To me, the keyhole pout seems like another blip on the timeline of women mutilating their bodies to adhere to our society’s bizarre beauty standards.
You know how you look back at the 1980s and think, “Why would anyone perm and tease their hair so it brushes against their car ceiling?” I wonder if we’ll look back at the keyhole pout and experience similar skepticism. When I think about the keyhole pout, I can’t help but think the following thoughts: Does it hurt? Does it make you feel more confident? Is it ever annoying that you can’t close your mouth? Do bugs ever fly in there? It’s a small hole, but ample enough for the average gnat.
I’ll end with this: If you’re getting a keyhole pout, do it for you. May it be a symbolic opening to the world that welcomes in courage, confidence, and a desire to fight the patriarchy. May your pursed lips suck in racism, xenophobia, and homophobia, and blow out love, inspiration, and policy change.
That is all we can hope for.