What the Brazilian Butt Lift Craze Means for Feminism

by Angelina Zervos

I can’t believe I have to say this, but… getting plastic surgery isn’t the empowering feminist move that people make it out to be. 

Over the summer, I had my five seconds of fame on TikTok by posting my “controversial” takes on women’s issues, which include sex work and pornography, conforming to feminity, plastic surgery, the “male gaze” debate, and the overall lack of intersectionality in mainstream feminist movements. A lot of people seemed to agree that the conversations we should be having about women’s issues aren’t being had, mainly because a lot of these issues are seen as personal choices rather than as being part of a system that affects all women. 

One time, someone left me a comment saying: “it’s not feminist to be in other women’s business.” I had to take a step back. HUH? Feminism is a social movement, an ideology that concerns ALL women. I quite literally, by definition, HAVE to care about other women’s business! Unfortunately, this is the mindset that many hold when it comes to modern-day feminism. It’s often labeled as “choice feminism” because it assumes that a woman’s actions exist in a vacuum, which makes them inherently feminist; if she personally feels empowered by her choices, no matter how much they may contribute to an oppressive patriarchal system, then it’s a win for the girls! 

Nope. That’s not how it works. Turning teenage girls into online sex workers the minute they turn 18 because they learned it can be a fun side hustle on TikTok isn’t a win for the girls (check out my article “OnlyFans is the Biggest Scam of Our Generation” for my take on this). Having millions of women undergo a dangerous surgery to look like cartoon characters isn’t a win either. It’s actually quite the opposite. 

The Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL) procedure has been on the rise over the past few years. Popularized by the Kardashian-Jenners and a plethora of L.A. baddies, the BBL seems to maintain a stronghold on our generation. BBLs are meant to create the “perfect” hourglass figure, often paired with the classic boob job to create the ideal body type… whatever that means, since the definition keeps changing. They skyrocketed in popularity over the pandemic, as more women worked from home and had more time to recover from the procedure. Airports in Miami started running out of wheelchairs to carry the bedridden patients to their seats. Let me emphasize – BEDRIDDEN. Not only do BBLs have one of the highest mortality rates for a cosmetic procedure, but the aftercare is long and strenuous. Many women go through excruciating pain to achieve desired results. However, this also means no sitting or lying on your back, no exercise, constant compression garments, and of course, they must always be on the lookout for infections – bruising, swelling, redness, puss… All of this, for what?

Look, I’m not entirely against cosmetic procedures. It’s rough being a woman when the standard grows more and more unachievable. It’s come to the point where even the most beautiful women in the world feel the need to edit their pictures and receive countless procedures to “improve” the way they look. It seems as though the ideal body type rarely exists naturally. Maybe I should take a stronger stance on the issue, but in all honesty, I think there’s a huge difference between removing the bump on your nose with a nose job and completely altering your body to look like Jessica Rabbit. Let’s be entirely honest, who do BBLs appeal to? Who do BBLs benefit? Definitely not women. 

Believe it or not, men DOMINATE the cosmetic surgery industry. Plastic surgeons are overwhelmingly men, and their patients are predominantly women. Additionally, most photo editing apps that advertise shape-shifting abilities like FaceTune are owned by men. This has been said for years; women’s insecurities generate huge profits. 

To be extremely clear, I’m not shaming anyone who wants a cosmetic procedure. Do you know how many times I’ve looked into getting my belly fat freezed off? Way too many times… but I think we genuinely have to consider how the media tricks us into believing that we need to have a certain body type – one that doesn’t naturally exist – in order to be attractive. Let’s be real, that standard almost never applies to men. In fact, the media celebrated “unconventionally” attractive men for years (as they should!), while the standard for women only gets stricter and stricter. Hollywood doesn’t allow women to age, let alone have a belly, God forbid. 

Who knows what the next ideal body type will look like? I just want every woman to feel happy and comfortable in her own skin. At the same time, I worry about the long-term effects of a whole generation of women altering their looks to fit an impossibly exclusive standard. When will our natural selves ever be enough?

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