The desire for more sensual, shapely, and BIGGER lips is not new in our culture. It’s been going on for over 50 years. Though the trend hasn’t change, what has changed is the magnitude. I recently read a piece in Slate about some rather unfortunate runway appearances involving overdone lips. The article is subtitled “the rise of the trout-pout” – a graphic if not wholly accurate description of the phenomenon of overdone lips – and traces the current rise of the sensual mouth from Brigitte Bardot in the 1950′s and 1960′s to modern stars like Angelina Jolie.
Some enduring concepts of beauty exist, though these are often subconscious and influence our behaviors is more subtle ways. Some of these eternal truths have been supported by relatively recent, and rigorous, scientific inquiry. A good example is facial symmetry: the more symmetric a face is judged by an observer, the more beautiful the face is considered. In the field of sociological anthropology or evolutionary biology, tendencies like this are typically explained in terms of mating behavior – meaning that the symmetry of a potential mate’s face can be used as a proxy for “good genes” or fertility. This is difficult to prove because the supposed effects are subconscious (and there aren’t a lot of cavemen around to use in experiments), but it seems to make sense in a primitive way. (Warning: this post is pretty nerdy.)