Rachel Humphreys talks to Guardian writer Sophie Elmhirst about the increasing popularity of the Brazilian butt lift (BBL) which is the fastest-growing cosmetic surgery in the world. Since 2015, the number of butt lifts performed globally has grown by 77.6%, according to a recent survey by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. The BBL began in Brazil, birthplace of aesthetic surgery and the myth of the naturally ‘sticky-outy’ bottom, the kind seen in countless tourist board images of bikini-clad women on Copacabana beach. As part of her research, Sophie spent time with British aesthetic surgeon Dr Lucy Glancey and her patient Melissa* who was planning to have her second BBL. Sophie tells Rachel why she thinks more and more women are demanding the procedure despite the risks – the BBL has been called the world’s most dangerous procedure.
Rachel also talks to Alisha Gaines, professor of English at Florida State University, and the author of Black for a Day: White Fantasies of Race and Empathy, who discusses the cultural implications of the surgery. Gaines traces the fetishisation of black women’s bottoms back to the toxic legacy of slavery and colonialism, and more specifically to the case of Saartjie Baartman, a South African woman who was brought to London in 1810 by a British doctor and exhibited in Piccadilly and then around the country as the ‘Hottentot Venus’.