Last month Batta Box TV presented us with a short video on a supposedly emerging trend in Nigeria: “pink lips.” The fashion trend consists of men tattooing their bottom lips pink, to cover up their blackness.
Some weeks have passed but a lot of people are still asking questions as to what the hell these young men are thinking. The service costs 7000 Naira, the equivalent of about $35/40, so while seemingly inexpensive, we know we’re not the only ones who think that money could be better spent elsewhere. Perhaps what is most intriguing about the video is how it places masculinity and western notions of beauty in the same conversation, when their relationship is typically understated.
We consistently discuss the prevalence of skin bleaching amongst women throughout the continent (when let’s face it- men use skin bleaching products as well), and our conversations surrounding African beautification practices in general are typically female-centric. If anything, when these conversations involve men, we critique men for perpetuating Western notions of beauty via their expectations of black women- but we have to appreciate this video for illuminating how men themselves are also implicated in Western notions of beauty not simply through their expectations of women, but also their notions of self. It’s not really much of a hurrah! because it is clearly a bit of an issue that young men think that their darker lips need to be covered up by a very strange (and dare we say ugly?) bubble gum pink. It’s more of a nod, that we need to take a closer look at how masculinity is also implicated in blackness and beauty. Check out the video below!