Men Tattooing Lower Lip To Enhance African Beauty?
Nigerian men are engaging in a bizarre beauty ritual of tattooing their lower lip a pinkish bubble-gum color. The purpose is to enhance their appearance. Not knowing there are other ways to achieve this alternative look without the discomfort of tattooing, especially to a sensitive area of the body, many men feel this lightening technique is aesthetically more pleasing. They are making themselves appear more European looking, which says something about the psychology of “blackness” in their minds as ugly. Maybe they struggle with race, racism and discrimination and it manifests in the personal feelings of self-worth and self-acceptance. There is a centuries-old negative history of European conceptions of black people as “less than” that of white people, particularly in what constitutes beauty, and the images of white over black has left a lasting impact on the psychology of people of African descent throughout the diaspora.
The Batta Box TV, a Nigerian based blog site, released a short video that documents the trend of lower lip enhancement. According to the tattoo artist in the video, the procedure cost between 35-40 American dollars. The practice seems rather extreme and says a lot about what we are willing to do to achieve “fashion and beauty.” More importantly, how Western representations of beauty can be problematic regarding this unusual trend.
In other areas of Africa, Senegalese women likewise tattoo their gums black to enhance the whiteness of their smile, while others bleach their skin for a more lighter shade. Rather than undergo such a drastic measure of lower lip enhancement, the same goal could have been accomplished with a small container of pink lipstick, and it has been reported that applying a mixture of almond oil and lemon juice is also less intrusive.