Woman's Viral Post About Her Lips Points Out Ridiculous Beauty Double Standard

June 29th 2017

Adeshina Emmanuel

A 19-year-old from Georgia took a picture of her lips and made it into a meme that has garnered more than 120,000 likes on Instagram.

Jacinda Pender pointed out in the viral post how it's trendy to have full lips these days, but it took her years to accept her own.


"This post was about me a black girl loving her natural features and being constantly reminded by my white peers as a child that they weren't beautiful," she wrote in the caption of the photo.

Pender asked her followers if they recalled when MAC Cosmetics featured a black woman with full lips in a photo on its Instagram account in February 2016, and that it spurred racist comments like "monkey lips." A representative at the cosmetics company responded to the controversy at the time with the following statement to BuzzFeed: "M·A·C stands for and respects All Ages, All Races, All Sexes. We do not tolerate any abusive comments in our community.”

It was a huge controversy, with the post getting thousands of comments from people debating the appearance of one black woman's lips.

"Its my job as a black person," she wrote, "to remind black children growing up that they are beautiful and valid and worthy."


Indeed, the phrase "black is beautiful," was coined back in the 1960s to defy the notion that black people possess less desirable features than their white or lighter-skinned counterparts.

It's a beauty standard that was instilled in American society via ideas of white supremacy and the cultural hegemony that people of European descent hold in America. Black women, in particular, bear the brunt of this racist ridicule of black bodies, while white women are upheld as the epitome of beauty.

This dynamic often reveals itself in people's everyday conversations, with comments like "She's pretty... for a black girl," being commonplace. This is in addition to endless music videos and advertisements devoid of dark-skinned models, and in a culture of celebrity worship, where white women are lauded as trend setters or beauties for adopting the same looks that black women have been mocked for.

Look no further than Kylie Jenner, who plumped her lips with filler, spurred the "lip challenge," and turned her fans obsession with having lips like hers into a business.

Pender told Metro.co.uk in an article about her viral Instagram post that she grew up hating her lips because they weren't "normal."

"I had one kid in middle school mock my lips by taking his fingers and pulling his bottom lip all the way to his chin," she said.

Writer Ashley Reese penned a post for Gurl in 2015 that makes the point that Jenner isn't the only example of the beauty double standards black women face, by noting: "Back when Angelina Jolie hit the scene, people were going gaga over her lips too…as if nobody had ever seen full lips before." She went on to write: 

"Nobody is taking the time to call Beyonce‘s lips sexy or Kerry Washington‘s lips beautifully luscious or anything. No, we’re not given that honor in the eyes of mainstream beauty standards...Think about the other features that are associated with black women: Large butts, dark skin…people pay loads of money to get a bigger donk and to spray tan themselves so that they nearly look as dark as I am, but they’d never want to actually be black. On us, those features are subject to ridicule. Not so much when transplanted onto someone who ain’t black."

While black women are often left out of these beauty ideals crafted by society, there are companies and people like Pender making efforts to show that perhaps America's beauty ideals are outdated.