Kylie Jenner said that 2016 would be the year for ‘realising stuff’ and there’s certainly one thing the world has realised about her – the power of her influence on all things beauty. Along with the rest of the Jenner-Kardashian clan and associated figures such as Gigi Hadid, Cara Delevgine and Jordyn Woods, she has created this image of flawless perfection that young women have desperately tried to emulate. Everyone seems to want Kylie’s lips, Gigi’s tan, Cara’s eyebrows and Jordyn’s nails and are more willing than ever to splash some cash to obtain them.
The growth of the beauty industry in recent years has been colossal, accompanied by the new phenomena of the rise of beauty bloggers. Homegrown gurus like Suzanne Jackson, or international stars like Jaclyn Hill have become household names for many young women who watch their tutorials and buy their products in the hopes of achieving the perfect image. Huge numbers are following in their footsteps, with many young women training as MUA’s and setting up their own blogs and channels to get in on the beauty world action. The trail of influence is easy to see however, when you notice that almost every YouTube beauty channel has a video called “Kylie Jenner Inspired Tutorial”, which inevitably features wildly overdrawn lips, eyebrows like razors and fake eyelashes so big they weigh down your eyelids. The appeal of the Kylie Jenner look is also evident through the huge success of her Kylie Cosmetics range, whose lipkits are constantly sold out due to high demand. It’s important to remember though, that makeup is just makeup; it’s fun, it’s creative and it can be taken off at the end of the day. The problem in that this new obsession with all things beauty runs much deeper.
2016 has seen manicures swapped for acrylics, tweezers swapped for HD brows, a wash, cut and blow-dry swapped for a head full of extensions. Whereas these had previously been considered luxuries, things you’d get done for a wedding or the races, they have now become common place practices. Women are getting their nails redone every fortnight and constantly topping up the tan at what must be an enormous financial cost. The trends are easy to see on Instagram, where a quick glance at my Explore page shows me a gel polish manicure, a video of a girl getting her eyebrows tinted and a girl who is not Kylie Jenner but looks so like Kylie Jenner it could be her twin. The lengths people will go to for their appearance have become more and more drastic over time thanks to the influence of the young, rich and famous.
The prevalence of ‘aesthetic surgery’ has risen in Ireland and abroad, with people paying for procedures to alter their facial features. The desire to alter the natural face seems to be widespread and is propagated by social media figures, reality TV stars and good old fashioned peer pressure. The demand for lip fillers in particular has risen enormously, in no small part due to the attention received this year by Kylie Jenner’s enhanced pout. People are increasingly willing to pay a few hundred euro for a new set of lips, with many people have the procedure repeated multiple times. The results are instant and long lasting and many people develop a kind of addiction to cosmetic enhancement, wanting fuller and fuller lips. However, too many people do not make themselves aware of the dangers surrounding such a procedure, such as the development of scar tissue, the risk of lips becoming misshapen and the importance of it being carried out by a professional with complete sterility.
In the vast world of cosmetic surgery, lip fillers are on the tamer end of the scale and many people would ask what is really wrong with them? Countless girls claim they give them a confidence boost, or make them more comfortable with their appearance. Surely that’s a good thing, right? But, when everyone starts to look the same, when everything we consider “beautiful” is fake, how can we even know what real beauty is anymore? Instead of making girls feel like they need big lips to feel confident, shouldn’t we be reinforcing the message that everyone is beautiful in their own individual, unique ways? It’s important to remember that people like Kylie Jenner live in a world full of unlimited credit cards, personal stylists and photoshop. The images of themselves that they put out aren’t real, they’re staged and edited. We’re just ordinary people, but we’re all unique and that’s important to hold on to. You are beautiful, so keep on doing you.
-By Aoife O’Donoghue