Objects of Our Time: ISAMAYA FFRENCH’s LIPS

Shane Anderson

Engineered past our sanity, is this object of our time inciting a dystopian future, or does it shed light on the facets of our current, inescapable reality?


First thought: That’s a lipstick. Just a lipstick?

It’s from Isamaya Ffrench’s beauty line ISAMAYA. It’s called LIPS—Color Infusion Lipstick (shade: cardinal), “a vicious red lipstick with ultra-dense liquid pigments suspended in a solid oil and housed in chrome packaging. The final effect is satin-slick saturated color in just one stroke.” Its sister product is LIPS—Water Balm (shade: vanity), “a sheer black glaze that drenches lips in a glossy veil of mesmeric shine and that’s housed in gunmetal packaging.” They’re both shaped like penises.

Second thought: What does it mean for a lipstick to be shaped like a penis?

That ISAMAYA is grabbing the beauty world by the horns and refusing to be coy. There’s no pretending. Sex continues to sell. But sex can also be recontextualized and rethought. Instead of deeming it as taboo—something that should only be talked about behind closed doors—the endeavor should be to challenge these social customs and stop thinking of it as seedy. The shape may be crude but then the child telling the emperor that he was naked at the procession in “The Emperor’s New Clothes” was also crude—how dare you admit the truth!


Third thought: Can you use it for other things?

LIPS was designed to be used even after the lipstick runs out. You could then refill it with a new bullet or place it on the mantlepiece of your parents. It might look really nice as a paperweight at the office if you aren’t working with a bunch of prudes. Or you can cradle it like a microphone while crooning on the subway. Or, though the press release says nothing about it, the anatomically correct case can be used as a dildo.


Fourth thought: That’s shocking.

It is. And ISAMAYA wants you to be shocked. They also want you to laugh your head off. Isamaya Ffrench has elsewhere talked about the humorous nature of the product, even though it’s dead serious. Humor, then, is a tool to take down taboos (see point two).

Fifth thought: I can’t help but wonder, what does it taste like?

The lipstick uses a curated mélange of antioxidant botanical actives: acai, berry oil, cherry seed oil, pomegranate seed oil, refined sweet almond, and jojoba oil. The water balm uses solid jelly. So, it’s probably delightful—if you dare to savor it.