It’s Time For A Candid Conversation About Butt Injections


Shutterstock / Jacob Lund.

2023 marked 50 years of hip-hop, the game-changing genre that revolutionized the music industry forever. Much like any enduring creation, the inception of hip-hop has birthed an entire subset of trends, behaviors, and fixations. One of which being the borderline obsession with a plump behind. This infatuation can be traced back to the beginning with hits like LL Cool J’s “Big ole butt” and Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.”

This fascination with pronounced glutes has been a hallmark of Black beauty standards for years, making its prominence in the genre an unsurprising sequitur. At first glance, this presents as a celebration of thicker bodies, a seemingly noble act in a society largely dominated by Eurocentric standards that praise and prioritize slender body types.

“Before hip-hop, the ideal was thin and white. Having a big butt was not something that was celebrated on a large scale,” says Treva Lindsey, a professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Ohio State University and founder of the Transformative Black Feminism(s) Initiative. “We don’t really start seeing that until you have a genre, like hip-hop, that becomes so major and commercial.” 

But this was by no means only a net positive for body acceptance. Rather, it also ignited an increase of unmeetable beauty standards. “In rallying against an existing beauty standard and creating another one, there is still the conundrum of impossibility, and creates a context where people are striving and aspiring to be the person who is desired and given certain benefits, because they have a certain body,” says Lindsey. She adds that even though certain larger features were now popularized, there were still aesthetic standards required for this newfound mainstream praise. This is considerably par for the course when it comes to the “economy of beauty and sex appeal,” says Lindsey.

Even though this look counters the dominant, white feminine ideal, the Black feminine ideal still excludes a lot of people,” says Lindsey. For many women, such as members of the transgender community, achieving these feminine ideals is a matter of life and death.

“Our Black trans sisters, who are often going through gender-affirming procedures, and don’t have access to medical care, were really on the front lines of many of the illegal [surgical] economies,” says Lindsey. 

For others, these enhancements are seen as investments towards financially prosperous futures and accompanying access believed to be afforded to those with these body types. Whether this comes by way of branded partnerships, larger followings or a broadened pool of potential suitors, there do seem to be some tangible benefits of undergoing these procedures.

The role obtaining a more curvaceous physique plays in affirming self-esteem, especially within a demographic navigating staunch desirability politics and anti-Black metrics of beauty, has many willing to go to extreme lengths to achieve this aesthetic; sacrificing time, money, and, in some cases, their lives. One such way to do this, of course, is the now infamous BBL, which, according to a survey by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, saw an increase in performance by 77.6% from 2015 to 2021. But for those who may not have the resources to afford such an intensive procedure, which can roughly range between $4,000-$10,000, they go for the cheaper, riskier method: illegal butt injections.

In fact, they have become so popular that they’ve warranted their own spot in numerous hip-hop odes. For example, Drake belted, “Ya didn’t really have all that ass, last month, girl you got some shots in that muthaf*****,” in the extended version of All of The Lights. And then, of course, there’s ATL’s own Lil Baby, expressing that, “she got them a** shots that I like,” in his single “First Class.”

Typically, these procedures are done in sketchy, unregulated areas such as a residential basement or a seedy motel. “We’ll ask, ‘where did you get it done? And they’re like, ‘Somebody’s hotel room in Atlanta,’” says Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Dr. Ari Horschander.

Aside from not being conducted in a sterile environment, these injectables are seldom medical grade. “We’ve seen everything from silicone to fix-a-flat, the same stuff they put into a flat tire, concrete and rubber, put into people’s butts,” adds Dr. Ari Horschander. “These materials are not meant for injection. Your body’s gonna try and fight it off, so you’re gonna have an incredible, dangerous immune reaction, plus, you might get a terrible infection,” says Dr. Horschander. 

Knowingly putting yourself at risk for an enhanced rear end is something many women have kept on the hush, hush for years. And in this current era of hypercriticism and social media convergence, who can really blame them? Recently, though, many high-profile women have been increasingly forthcoming about their butt shot journeys.

In 2022, Nicki Minaj opened up about her decision to get butt injections during an episode of The Joe Budden Podcast, explaining she felt pressured to get enhancements after regularly hearing Lil Wayne wax poetic about “big booties.”

The following year, influencer Jayda Cheaves, also known by her social media moniker, “Jayda Wayda,” shared that she received illegal injections when she was 19 during an interview with The Jasmine Brand in January 2023. She also expressed her hesitancy to speak up about the decision for fear of inadvertently promoting the risky injections. “I influence a lot of younger girls and I don’t want them to feel like, ‘Oh well, Jayda got it. I need to get it,’” Cheaves said during the interview.


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