Opinion: No woman of any background needs butt surgery

photo by: Contributed

Froma Harrop

Kim Kardashian got very, very rich by adopting features associated with Black women. Racial blurring is her marketing device.

One such feature is a large rear end that she obtained surgically. Thus was launched a strange circular trend. Black and Latina women already so endowed have joined others in butt augmentation surgery. In sum, they are trying to emulate a celebrity trying to emulate them.

I know that a white writer who wants to protect her own posterior might do well to avoid this subject. But I don’t like seeing any of my sisters suffer at the hands of either the medical or the entertainment industry.

The popular Brazilian butt lift is expensive, painful and dangerous. It has the highest mortality rate of any cosmetic procedure. I won’t discuss the complications except to say they are gruesome.

Women now fly down to Miami for cut-rate surgeries and then skimp on expense by patronizing cheap recovery houses. They can find even lower prices in Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Mexico.

Post-operative care is essential and recovery time very long. The patient is not supposed to sit or lie on her back for two to four weeks after surgery.

Doing it right is quite expensive. The average price for a Brazilian butt lift is $5,000, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Some doctors say a high-quality procedure can run as high as $15,000.

But why do it at all? In addition to the risk and expense, butt augmentation is troubling from several cultural directions. First off, a big booty is a sexual attraction that spares men the bother of looking at the face. Obsession with it devalues a woman’s heart, soul or intelligence.

The racial implications of this trend are truly complex. I habitually avoid using the charge of “cultural appropriation” in the belief that culture is not something anyone owns. However, it is undeniable that white people have been able to profit off aspects of Black culture in ways Black people have not been able to. Elvis is Exhibit A. (For more information, see “Elvis,” the movie.)

And that is a rap against Kardashian, who’s been accused of actually using dark makeup to make herself appear more Black. Ayanna Thompson, a Shakespeare scholar, has made a convincing argument that Kardashian’s act is a form of blackface minstrelsy.

“That’s the ultimate power of whiteness, right?” Thompson, who is Black, writes. “That I can like these things, which we may want to denigrate, but I don’t have to stay there. I get to come back to the safety of whiteness.”

But even when it comes to curves, Kardashian plays both sides. Big bottoms and massive breasts may be something she promotes, but Kim also peddles a body-shaping line that stuffs flabby middles into sausage-like wrappings.

In any case, women who want larger derrieres have long had access to simple solutions that don’t require going under the knife. In the late-Victorian period, writes fashion historian Alison Lurie, “interest centered on the rear-end (was) … exaggerated by the bustle.” Thing is, the bustle wasn’t sewn into them, and when the 1920s came around, they could just change costume.

The very word “booty” is problematic. Its definition in The Oxford English Dictionary is: “Plunder, gain or profit acquired in common and destined to be divided among the winners.” As common slang for a woman’s butt, it is degrading — and I don’t care who says otherwise.

Enough said. God made some women with curves, and rejecting “skinny” as the only ideal female form is healthy. Those born with curves should enjoy them. Others can buy underwear with padding. No one needs butt surgery.

— Froma Harrop is a syndicated columnist with Creators.


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