OPINION: Social media challenge may cause lip explosion

Photo credit: Kent Willmeth

Recently, teen idol, or whatever she’s famous for, Kylie Jenner started a cosmetic craze when her non-existent upper lip seemed to grow eight to 10 sizes larger overnight. The obvious rebuke from the general public was that Jenner had undergone cosmetic procedure(s). This sparked harsh criticism due to her young age.

As a prominently-followed teen role model, many found her extreme efforts to look like a human Barbie doll a terribly inappropriate example to set for the millions of adolescents that look up to her and follow her every move on social media. Jenner’s reply in a nutshell: it’s OK, it’s just makeup! Public figures, like Jenner, should be more conscious of what it is they are posting on social media and understand the repercussions it can have on easily-pursuaded, insecure young adolescents.

According to a Jan. 12, 2015 US Weekly article titled, “Kylie Jenner Goes Without Makeup, Reveals Bare Plump Pout and Short, Weave-Free Hair – See the Au Naturel Pic,” Jenner has defended herself against the allegations with quotes like “I (just) know how to do my makeup, contour and everything,” and her infamous Instagram caption, “You know it’s gonna be a good Sunday when ya weaves out & u haven’t put ur face on yet.” Attached to the caption was a selfie Jenner had posted, claiming it was all natural and makeup free.

So yes, basically Jenner’s argument against all of the criticism is that it’s OK, because it’s just makeup. To Jenner, it’s apparently OK that her alternative to surgery is undergoing hours of transformation every morning to warp her natural looks into an unrealistic standard of perfection. Obviously most teens don’t have the time, money or resources available to achieve these trendy lips, but our youth has come up with an affordable alternative: air vacuum combustion to expand the blood within the skin. In other words, someone realized that putting enough suction pressure on your lips, for example, sucking on a small shot glass for 60 seconds, causes “vessel engorgement.”

According to an April 22, 2015 Fusion article titled, “The horrifying science behind the Kylie Jenner challenge,” vessel engorgement means that the blood vessels in the lips fill with blood, setting off an inflammatory chemical reaction. This is not something to play around with, and experts have said it can cause permanent disfigurement.

According to an All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image survey titled, “Reflections on body image,” 70 percent of adult women and 40 percent of adult men feel pressured by television and magazines to have a perfect body. This might be why cosmetic surgery rates have increased by nearly 20 percent since 2008. This shows there is a problem with body image dissatisfaction among young adults, and Jenner is only adding to this growing problem.

As teens across the country now pull these shot glasses away from their slobbery, bleeding mouths, one begins to cringe at how far this quest to achieve beauty has gone. Is the daily routine of completely masking and now also physically disfiguring your face really any more respectable than getting plastic surgery? If you’d like to find out for yourself, here’s how the process works: suck on a shot glass or small bottle that encompasses your lips. Despite the pain and intense feelings of cutoff circulation, keep sucking. This is crucial in order to achieve this glamorous look. Once your lips are literally at the brink of bursting, pull the shot glass away and voila, you finally have Jenner’s lips.

To complete the look, be sure to contour every part of your face. Line the bottom of your eyelids to create that coquettish, doll-like sex appeal. As a finishing touch, add on some false lashes. The final step is filling in your new lips with some classic, red lipstick. This might sting since your lips probably haven’t stopped bleeding yet, but that’s alright … we suffer for beauty.

Now that the makeup process is complete, the final step is to find the perfect lighting for your obligatory Instagram selfie. According to an April 17, 2015 interview with Teen Vogue, Jenner uses an umbrella-like selfie-lighting apparatus. These can be purchased online, but if you don’t have the extra cash, just use an LED-lit public restroom mirror … it’s just as classy. Now, pout those lips. Be sure to add your favorite filter to make it look stylish, and add the hashtag #KylieJennerLipChallenge. After posting your selfie, there’s always that horrific period of waiting for likes. Will this be a flop or not? As you’re waiting for the likes, take a look at that the selfie. If you look like a clown … perfect; you fit right in with the trend.

So what kind of disturbing influence does Kylie Jenner and her Kardshian sisters have over teen culture? Apparently a power that’s transcended outfits, hair and make-up. We’re to the point of homemade methods of body modification. It’s time that this virtual conquest to achieve perfection leaves. Whether it’s attained virtually, surgically or with the use of excessive make-up, this self-obsessed culture of our teens needs to go and self-acceptance needs to make a comeback. Selfies and make-up might not seem all that life-changing, but when you really consider the implications of these scary trends, you might think twice. Be smart, loving and gentle to yourself and your body. Be courageous enough to not hide your natural looks in shamefully caked make-up. Set an example for all.