Is the era of the Brazilian butt lift deflated?


Amanda Riha

Illustration by

Melina Khan, Editor-in-Chief

In a world of FaceTune, TikTok filters and Instagram influencers, it can be hard to discern what’s real and what’s carefully curated and perfectly edited online. The popularity of social media in our world today can have a trickledown effect on social norms. When the appearances of celebrities who take up our feeds start to change, societal standards sometimes follow.

Most popularly, the Kardashian family regularly monopolizes social media and the global pop culture universe. Despite being plagued by years of plastic surgery rumors, the most recent speculations could affect the way bodies are embraced in the media.

The Kardashian sisters, namely Kourtney, Kim, Khloe and Kylie Jenner, have been known for their big posteriors and curvy figures since they launched into fame with their reality show, “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” which ran from 2007 to 2020.

They have tried to dispel rumors of certain plastic surgery procedures over the years, most notably that their big butts are actually implants. In a 2011 “KUWTK” episode, Kim Kardashian underwent an x-ray of her butt to prove that she did not have implants.

The episode in turn led people to believe the sisters had undergone a type of plastic surgery procedure that enlarged their butts using fat from other areas of their body, commonly known as a Brazilian butt lift. The Kardashians have never confirmed whether they in fact have gotten the procedure, but a search of the term “Kardashian BBL” on Twitter or TikTok suggests a general consensus on the matter.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, a BBL is a procedure that augments the look of a person’s butt by removing fat from other parts of the body and inserting them into the butt, in turn causing your butt to be “bigger, stick out more and have an even shape.” As a result, the areas of the body that had fat removed “will have smoother body contours.”

The sisters’ big butts and small waists were part of their platforms for many years, most notably in Kim Kardashian’s 2014 Paper Magazine cover, which showcased the entrepreneur balancing a champagne glass on her butt.

And as the sister’s popularity increased, so did the popularity of the BBL. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons found that in 2017 alone, more than 20,000 BBLs were performed nationwide. It also said the number of procedures had “more than doubled” between 2013-2018.

But earlier this year, speculations that some of the sisters may have had their BBLs reversed began swarming social media.

When Kim Kardashian wore the dress worn by actress Marilyn Monroe when she sang happy birthday to President John F. Kennedy in 1962 to the Met Gala earlier this year, she said in an interview with Vogue that she lost 16 pounds over the course of a couple weeks to fit into the original dress. This situation was seemingly the impetus of Kim Kardashian’s changing figure, as she went on to say in an interview with TODAY that the experience inspired her to continue eating healthy and losing more weight.

Rumors that Khloe Kardashian had a BBL reversal also flooded Twitter in June, after a paparazzi photo of the Good American co-founder went viral for her slim frame. “And just like that… the BBL was gone,” user Samantha Bush wrote in a post that was retweeted more than 11,000 times.

Some critics in the media have tied the Kardashians’ changing figures with the men they are dating, and allegations of cultural appropriation of the body types they had previously signaturized have been raised in the past. After Vogue declared in 2014 that “we’re in the era of the big booty” due to celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez, the publication faced public backlash by people who said attributing big butts to these public figures erased the countless women of color who embraced natural curvy figures for decades before the rise of the KarJenners.

Though the Kardashian family did not invent the BBL, they have been arguably the most prominent figures who have strived to maintain a small waist and big butt over the last decade. But as their figures seemingly start drastically changing, time will only tell if it will decrease the popularity of the BBL. If BBLs are out, the harmful societal promotion of the size 0 might begin to be promoted as idealistic in its place.