Images of young women, lips severely swollen and bruised from aggressively sucking the air out of shot glasses, began to flood social media in April. The disfigurement was intentional – an attempt at DIY lip plumping inspired by 17-year-old Kylie Jenner’s oversized pout. The frequently disastrous results were mocked by columnists and reposted across the internet, partially to warn other girls off the trend and partially because, like watching a train wreck, it was hard to look away.
The results of the Kylie Jenner lip challenge might seem extreme, but a growing group of millennials are going several steps further to alter their facial contours. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons last year reported that in female patients aged 20 to 29, face-shaping cosmetic procedures were on the rise: Requests for hyaluronic acid fillers were up by almost 10 per cent, while Botox and chemical peels saw similar upticks. What’s more, according to dermatologists, young patients aren’t looking for subtle results; they want the ‘work’ to be noticeable. That’s because the puffed and plumped ‘richface’ aesthetic is the new Louis Vuitton handbag in certain circles – an instant, recognizable marker of wealth and status.