They're the most sensual part of the body that's out there for all the world to see. They're vulnerable and expressive. Good lips are crucial to sexual attractiveness.
Attractive lips look kissable and approachable, while thin or tight lips seem to suggest someone is prim or stern. For most women, the bigger and softer their lips are the better -- to a limit. Lips that look fake or that don't fit the face are turnoffs, the sign of bad surgery or poorly applied makeup. For men, it's a little tougher to define great lips, but the best ones manage to say, "I'm virile, but I have my tender side."
Men may make the best of what they have, but women labor for lovely lips. Ancient Egyptian women used henna to color theirs. In "Gone with the Wind," Southern belles bit their lips to redden them. The modern lip-coloring industry got its start in the silent-movie era, when such vampish stars as Theda Bara and Clara Bow plied bright-red lipstick. Today, wanna-be movie stars and ordinary women try lip augmentation -- injections or surgery.
Some celebrity lips gain widespread but perhaps fleeting contemporary fame, setting our standards for beauty. Others prove to have staying power. Really famous pairs of lips fall into two classifications, which sometimes overlap: pairs of lips that people would love to have and pairs of lips that people talk about. Read on to find out about some of both.