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Image of surgical tools

This month, a Bloomberg headline labeled the popular Brazilian butt lift (BBL) “one of the deadliest cosmetic surgeries,” echoing similar headlines in the New York Times and the Guardian over the past two years. A 2017 study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal found that two out of 6,000 BBLs resulted in death. This number largely stems from the high demand for BBLs, which has led to some unqualified or underqualified physicians and others with limited surgical training doing this work within a loosely regulated system. BBL, or Gluteal Fat Grafting procedures, removes fat tissue from around the waist and injects it into the same patient’s buttocks to form an hourglass figure.

While this figure is viewed as highly desirable across the globe today, the BBL procedure and its connection to its namesake in Brazil has a long history rooted in anti-Blackness. In fact, we can locate the fixation with the BBL and the body it promotes at least as far as back as the abolition of slavery in Latin America’s largest country. Brazil is also home to the largest... see more