The BBL Trend: A Discussion

Hi! This article will be a bit of a change from other articles on the website, so we hope you like it!

Background Information

Before we jump into the discussion, Salem Tovar’s YouTube video covering the BBL trend: The Deadliest Trend on TikTok Yet | An analysis heavily inspired this article. You do not need to watch the video to understand this article, but we strongly recommend you check it out! The video is about the plastic surgery industry and how the world glamorizes plastic surgery, especially Brazilian butt lifts.

For those unaware, the BBL plastic surgery procedure has become quite popular, particularly on TikTok. BBL is a plastic surgery procedure that can lift your butt by removing excess fat from your abdomen, lower back, or thighs using liposuction and transferring it to the buttocks through injections.

One of the primary reasons BBLs are so popular right now is the changing beauty standards. According to Buzzfeed, the “ideal” body type from the 2000s to today consists of a flat stomach, a “healthy” skinny body, large breasts and butt, and a thigh gap, which is quite different from the “ideal” body type from the 1990s to the 2000s which consisted of an extremely skinny body, translucent skin, and an androgynous appearance. As Salem said in her video, beauty standards have always been around us. The same Buzzfeed video tells that the “ideal” body type in Ancient Egypt (c. 1292 – 1069 B.C.) consisted of a slender body, high waist, and slim shoulders. In Ancient Greece (c. 500 – 300 B.C.), being beautiful meant having a plump and full-figured body. During the Han Dynasty period of Chinese history (c. 206 B.C. – 220 A.D.), feminine beauty meant slim bodies, pale skin, large eyes, and small feet.


Sahasra Tummala: As you can tell from the previously disclosed information, for a long, long time, beauty standards have been jumping from “slim” to “thick” to “slim” to “thick”. The drastic changes in beauty standards are impossible to keep up with and make many women feel insecure. It is as if people expect women to be shape-shifters based on whatever’s the trend, and that’s not okay.

Vennela Mallampati: Exactly. It’s so hard because body trends change dramatically as time changes. During a massive portion of my formative years, the super skinny 2000s body type was popular and in vogue. Nowadays, you see people getting BBLs, liposuctions, and fat and lip injections.

Sahasra Tummala: The current “ideal” body type is “slim-thick” after all these changes. I saw a comment regarding this that accurately sums up my thoughts about it: “They just went from liking skinny to thick to skinny until they came up with an unreachable compromise they were sure no one could reach; slim-thick”. I agree with these words because it is impossible to obtain the “slim-thick” body type unless you opt for plastic surgery, specifically the BBL. However, we see many celebrities with this body type who repeatedly deny having plastic surgery, which is quite saddening considering the disastrous effect they have on society, because by not owning up to it and pretending that they naturally achieved their body type, women feel more pressure to fit in the current beauty standards.

Vennela Mallampati: Yes! Most women get plastic surgery because of their insecurities and the pressure they feel to meet today’s standards, so why would you want to create more of those insecurities within others who see/follow you and make them think that you got your body type naturally? Denying plastic surgery leads to the creation of toxic beauty standards, and the way some people profit off of it and never take accountability is disgusting.

Sahasra Tummala: What’s shocking is that the current “ideal” body type was supposed to be the opposite of how toxic it is now. According to Adella Afadi, leaving the 2000s “ideal” body type was meant to be a positive change where women could accept their bodies, even if they weren’t a size zero. However, society took this movement and turned it into the opposite of the 2000s. The current “ideal” body type urges people to believe that curvy women are beautiful, while size zero women are not.

Vennela Mallampati: Essentially, my issue with that is that now people are skinny shaming instead of accepting everyone and gaslighting people with naturally slim body types. Body positivity “advocates” who skinny shame people are a mess. Honestly, body neutrality is far more realistic, and you must be intersectional with your support of the body positivity movement.

Sahasra Tummala: And all of this can’t help but make you want to ask: “Why do we need an ideal body type?”

Vennela Mallampati: Exactly, because it’s going to change again to the super skinny type in the next decade like it was in the 2000s and 1990s, and it will keep changing. I grew up wanting to be super skinny, as I was born during that body-image era. Girls growing up now want to be slim-thick and “baddies”. Both generations are suffering, and no one wins in the end, as the people who propagated the beauty standard can’t even meet it naturally. Take the Kardashians as an example.

Sahasra Tummala: True. As Adella mentioned, right about now, the “ideal” body type is supposed to change, so it doesn’t make sense to get permanent plastic surgery to follow the trend since it’s not the root cause of the issue here.

Vennela Mallampati: It is illogical to make permanent changes to yourself if your idea of beauty is so deeply rooted in the rapidly changing standards of society. With more social media exposure now, body trends are changing as fast as fashion trends with TikTok. We will be seeing so many micro-body-trends in the next few years, and I’m so terrified for children in the next decade.

Sahasra Tummala: Speaking of younger generations, as Salem mentioned in her video, we see young women around our ages planning to go out of the country to get a BBL on their birthdays. We are talking about 16-17-year-old young women right now who are not even fully developed yet. This urge to get plastic surgery as soon as possible is a direct result of “glow-up” culture, which focuses on young women changing certain things about themselves to achieve specific beauty standards as a “result” of puberty. Salem also briefly mentions how pre-teen girls are terrified of looking their age, as the media has made it so that a pre-teen girl is not allowed to be “cute” anymore and must go straight into looking “attractive”. Furthermore, what is truly disgusting is when plastic surgeons take advantage of young women talking about their insecurities by offering to fix their insecurities through plastic surgery procedures.

Vennela Mallampati: The normalization of plastic surgery genuinely scares me. We see middle schoolers (children in grades 6-8) considering having plastic surgery procedures done, showing how much plastic surgery culture has impacted young women. Like why are middle schoolers considering getting plastic surgery when they are older?

Sahasra Tummala: Considering the popularity of plastic surgery and BBLs, you would think that people would talk about the harmful effects of BBL, but no. BBLs have the highest mortality rate. According to Penny Tovar, one in 3,000 women die after having this procedure. Moreover, people see BBL as a natural alternative to silicone implants. However, it is deadly because of the fat, which plastic surgeons inject superficially. If plastic surgeons inject the fat incorrectly, the fat will be on a one-way trip to the heart or lungs, causing a fat embolism, meaning you die.

Vennela Mallampati: So many people are getting BBLs to look like the filters on TikTok, and getting one is normalized. However, the health implications of the procedures are not covered as much as the “final glowed up look”. I find that truly messed up.

Sahasra Tummala: As Salem said, race and plastic surgery go hand in hand, having been proven multiple times throughout history. For example, the BBL trend appropriates the bodies of black and Latinx women. We see the fetishization of Asian eyes. Oli London, a European born in England, has undergone 18 procedures to look like Park Jimin, a vocalist of BTS. On June 18, Oli London revealed that he “transitioned his race from European to Korean.” Disclaimer: Transitioning race is impossible. He revealed his “new identity” by creating a rainbow version of South Korea’s national flag and saying that his pronouns are them/they/kor/ean. Many people, including Korean YouTubers, have spoken against his offensive actions. However, he has only decided to “diss the haters” in his “K-pop songs”. I do not understand how people cannot grasp that it is impossible to transition to another race, and you cannot steal from other cultures, no matter how much you feel you were born in the “wrong country” or whatnot. Everything leads back to a pick-and-choose game where people toss POC features around. In the words of Salem, “the BBL trend is grabbing a black woman’s body and a Latinx woman’s body, picking it apart, repackaging it, and then selling it to millions of people”, and so many trends follow suit more or less severely, but still following.

Vennela Mallampati: Exactly. It is so great to see when people show a genuine appreciation for a culture, but nowadays, people seem to only appropriate, and no one bothers to even learn about the culture. Oli London is just trivializing and appropriating Korean culture to get likes and views on social media. He has also trivialized the LGBTQ+ and non-cis journey and experience. Based on evidence displayed in YouTube videos, Oli London only supported the Black Lives Matter movement for more views, as well. Asians have been bullied and killed for their features, and he thinks he can take all of that hurt and pain and trivialize it and make himself “a Korean”. Black and Latinx women constantly face stereotypes because of their features, as well. The current trends that involve stealing from other cultures remind me of how in the 1970s, there was this whole decorating phase where Caucasians would take literal saris and traditional Indian prints and co-opt them for house decoration, and now most of our culture has been reduced to “American psychedelic 70s/60s style”.

Sahasra Tummala: Yes! Even now, people use henna to create fake freckles and bindis as makeup. Even worse, we see people, particularly large fast-fashion companies, taking designs from other cultures and selling them in their businesses so that the people to whom those designs belong cannot get any benefit from their culture being labeled as something else. This is seen when non-Indians sell Indian items in the name of yoga culture. While social media can help spread awareness about significant issues, it has a prominent role in furthering trends such as the BBL trend that normalize appropriating other cultures. The fact is that TikTok trends are getting worse and worse. First, we have the fast-fashion trends, and then, we have plastic surgery trends, making impressionable teens and women, in general, feel that they need to get plastic surgery that could be potentially dangerous. To finish this article off, I would like to mention how unfair society is to those who receive plastic surgery. People constantly judge appearances, but once a person gets plastic surgery procedures done to address their negative views of themselves partly inspired by unnecessary comments, they are seen as “fake” and receive hate undeservedly. It seems like a never-ending battle. It is okay to get plastic surgery, and whether you would get a procedure done for yourself or not, you do not have a right to insult someone because they had one or more done. This article is not to say that plastic surgery is wrong. This article is to spotlight the toxicity of the BBL trend.

Thank you for reading, and stay safe!