Unless you’re David Cameron, life on Earth is but a vale of tears. Famine, war, injustice, sorrow, all culminating in infirmity and death. It’s a total bummer. How do we manage, each one of us, to get through each day? Well, I do so by blogging about the things that matter. Such as the correct naming of the substance applied to lips in order to make them a more appealing hue.

Can I ask if you’re wearing any of this substance right now? Or at least if you were doing so, earlier today, before drinking, eating, snogging etc. rubbed it, and all promises of 12-hour endurance, away? What was it called? What word, precisely, followed the prefix lip-? Was it pencil, gloss, stick, balm, tint, stain, shimmer? Or was it butter? That’s the trendiest one, I reckon. It’s also by far the worst.

Lip butter – it’s ridiculous, isn’t it? What next? Lip margarine? Lip lard? Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me. After all, it’s such a stupid naming strategy. The product is meant to make your lips “baby soft”, which sounds creepy enough in itself. But this doesn’t even take into account what butter is like. It’s not baby soft and shimmery. In fact, it’s rather greasy, in a way that works fine with toast and fried mushrooms, but not with lips. It’s important to recognise this, people; let’s not confuse our lips with toast.

I’m writing this now because this morning I found myself in Boots and nearly fell into a lip butter stand on my way to select a suitably low-calorie lunch.* And of course the irony of this hit me. Here I am, surrounded by lip butter and 2000 Calorie Mascara, and in practice I’m meant to be starving myself. What the hell is going on?

In a culture in which the beauty ideal for women involves being thin, it’s interesting to note how many beauty products are marketed using the desirability of things we’re not meant to eat or be. As well as the 2000 Calorie version, we have Fat Lash Mascara. Clinique sell us Chubby Sticks, while Benefit give us a blusher called Sugarbomb. Lancôme Juicy Tubes offer all the sweet delights you could ask for. And then Bourjois produce Délice de Poudre, a face powder made to look like a chocolate bar. To be honest, all this is starting to get to me. If chocolate’s so bad, why should my make-up need to look like it? And if it’s not so bad, why can’t I just sodding well eat it?

Other than in early 1990s Boddington’s adverts, you never get beauty products that look like cigarettes, booze or savoury food. I don’t know why this is. The Cornish pasty would make an ideal shape for an eyeshadow palette. And what about lip ketchup? Or cheek pesto? I imagine none of these foodstuffs are considered girly enough. Sweet things are what we’re mean to eat for indulgence, even though we’re told not to. We do it because we don’t measure up.

I think, though, even after we’ve stuffed our faces on Galaxy in secret, we’re still hungry, because however much of it you eat, that food remains, psychologically, off-limits. So we fetishise it all the more and buy products that continue to “feed” us (I wonder if following the Atkins diet would make one less likely to purchase lip butter, but more likely to go for Délice de Poudre?).

At the end of it all most of us are fat. Fat, and wearing products labelled “fat”. And thus we shuffle through this miserable life. Still, at least there’s Jarvis Cocker.


* Note the term “found myself”. Being in Boots is never my fault.