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Can a cosmetic procedure influence an entire subculture? TikTok’s ‘BBL effect’ proves so

By Malavika Pradeep

Jun 23, 2021

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We previously talked about gen Z’s increasing obsession with baby Botox. Administered in smaller doses than traditional Botox, the non-surgical treatment essentially embraces an impending anti-ageing beauty boom among the demographic. But what happens when an invasive cosmetic procedure initiates recipients into a whole new subculture altogether? Introducing the ‘BBL effect’, one of the costliest TikTok trends that everyone can ironically get ‘behind’ free of cost.

What is BBL?

Sorry to burst your bubble but ‘BBL’ is not the acronym for ‘Be Back Later’ like it is speculated. The TikTok-native term translates to ‘Brazilian Butt Lift’—a surgical procedure in which fat is removed from various parts of the body and re-injected into the hips and buttocks. Using a combination of liposuction and fat-grafting, the procedure results in added volume, defined curves and an overall lift to the lower contours of the body.

Performed under general anesthesia, a BBL usually starts with a cosmetic surgeon outlining the planned areas of liposuction—a procedure that involves making incisions in the skin and then using a tube to remove fat from the body. The fat here is usually taken from the abdomen and lower back of the surgery’s recipient. Once the fat is collected in a specialised system that separates live fat cells from liposuction fluid, it is then injected back into the marked areas of the butt. About three to five incisions are made again for fat transfer, which are later closed up with stitches. The surgeon quickly follows up by applying a compression garment against the operated areas to minimise the risk of bleeding.

In terms of the aftercare, one factor is a given: you won’t be able to sit on your butt for about two weeks following surgery. You’ll also be advised to sleep on your side or on your stomach until the area has completely healed. Strenuous exercise is also advised against for several weeks. Experts in the field divide the recovery process of the procedure into three stages: the first few days, first several weeks and first several months.

Over the first few days, the recipient can generally go back to work. But a desk job would essentially require them to be either seated on a donut-shaped seat or a pillow placed under their thighs to avoid direct pressure on their buttocks. During the first several weeks, most of the swelling reduces and the bruising starts to heal. This is the ideal period for them to return to gyms and travel on any kind of public transport. The last stage is where the remaining swelling evens out and the transferred fat settles.

According to a recent survey by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the number of BBLs performed globally has grown by 77.6 per cent since 2015. Dubbed as “the fastest growing cosmetic surgery in the world,” BBLs can range anywhere from $3,000 to $30,000. This demand, however, is considered to be ill-favoured, given the list of side effects associated with the procedure.

Between 2011 and 2016 alone, there have been 25 deaths related to the surgery. In 2017, a plastic surgery task force revealed that three percent of plastic surgeons who performed the procedures had witnessed the death of a patient. Overall, one in 3,000 BBLs have resulted in death, making it one of the world’s most dangerous cosmetic procedures at the same time.

So, what is the ‘BBL effect’ on TikTok?

Pioneered by a New York-based creator, Antoni Bumba, #bbleffect is a TikTok trend playing on the iconic Point Of View (POV) narrative. Users here can be seen channelling the cosmetic procedure into an entire subculture—with a highly specific mannerism, behaviour and fashion sense.

“POV: Someone with a BBL goes to the gym,” a video title reads, as the TikToker proceeds to lift a pair of weights emphasising her butt in the workout. She then engages in a highly superficial activity of pout-sipping a drop of water from a glass tumbler—all the while fixing her hair behind her ears with ‘those hands’. Those hands, you know, the ones you pull when your nail polish is air-drying. Your fingers would avoid touching each other while your nails social-distance from everything on Earth. It’s almost as if you’re constantly waiting for someone to take and kiss the back of your hand while exuding a royal aura.

Another video features a TikToker role-playing a Pope after getting a BBL done. Sitting cautiously on the couch, the user is seen flipping their cape instead of hair and sifting through the pages of the Holy Bible before staring into an aesthetic distance. Although there is a significant amount of backlash in the comments section, the video goes on to show the versatility of the procedure in itself.

@antonibumba

shoutout @shaayyne for being paparazzi

♬ knock knock pitched - Tik Toker

From restaurants to community pools and graduation ceremonies, recipients of the BBL are alleged to have faced an evolution in terms of their attitude and fashion style after the procedure. Their character is now a bad bitch incarnate—constantly fixing their hair, fluttering their lashes and brooding into a distance while holding three-ply masks two inches away from their faces. All of this, done to the same chaotic TikTok audio ‘Knock Knock’ by the 19-year-old Atlanta rapper SoFaygo.

Although the trend was started by Bumba, many have jumped on with their own spin-offs—including the contrasting POV of “someone who doesn’t have a BBL.” Often spotted heading to beaches and pool parties, a non-BBL recipient on TikTok is someone who refuses to take off their pants in the sun or hides behind hand towels. The TikTok trend has also inspired #lipfiller POVs, currently at 1.1 billion views and counting.

Be it to mock or merely manifest the cosmetic procedure, TikTok’s ‘BBL effect’ is out there and multiplying as we speak. Neither is the trend exclusive to women on the platform nor is it necessary to go under the knife to jump on it. And even if you are “someone with a BBL,” you’re more than welcome to head over and share your experience. TikTok is bound to listen.

@tirsdagen

pov: someone who doesn't have a bbl goes to the beach #bbleffect #fyp #foryou

♬ knock knock pitched - Tik Toker

Can a cosmetic procedure influence an entire subculture? TikTok’s ‘BBL effect’ proves so


By Malavika Pradeep

Jun 23, 2021

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Influencers are sunbathing their buttholes as the new wellness trend to ‘recharge their bodies’

By Malavika Pradeep

Feb 25, 2021

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It’s early in the morning. You’re tired after your routine laps around the cul-de-sac when you spot someone with no pants lying on the ground, lifting up their legs before spreading them open in a V shape towards the sun…

Introducing ‘perineum sunning’, also known as ‘who needs coffee when I can butt-chug sunlight?’. The latest wellness trend includes exposing your perineum—the super-thin area of skin between your vagina (or, in men, the penis) and the anus—to the sun for a period of 30 seconds to 5 minutes.

“In a mere 30 seconds of sunlight on your butthole, you will receive more energy than you would in an entire day being outside with your clothes on,” says Ra of Earth in his video, introducing Instagram to this ‘self-care’ trend. The viral video, which has amassed over 84,000 views, features three nude men approaching the sun and pulling off ‘The Sunny Spready Solstice Pose’ at a mountainside.

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A post shared by Ra: Humanology Teacher&Student (@ra_of_earth)

The wellness enthusiast has also been kind enough to post step-by-step instructions for ‘sun worship exercise’ pulled from The Tao of Sexology: The Book of Infinite Wisdom written by Doctor Stephen T. Chang. “Turn your body so that your back is towards the sun,” the instructions read. “Lean over so that the sunlight comes into the opening. Feel the warmth penetrate into the tissue.” According to the post, sunlight has excellent germicidal qualities that can neutralise germs in the nether regions, keeping the area healthy and free from infections.

The trend later shook spiritual influencer Metaphysical Meagan who took to Instagram to preach the practice. “I start my day with 5 minutes of perineum sunning and feel energised for hours,” writes Meagan, recommending the wellness trend to “anyone who is seeking optimal health.” Meagan notes that perineum sunning is an ancient Taoist practice that originated in the Far East. In Taoism, the perineum is called the “gate of life and death” and is considered a gateway where energy enters and exits the body.

According to Meagan, benefits of perineum sunning include strengthening of organs through solar energy, preventing the leakage of ‘chi’ or life force energy from the body to sustain health and longevity, increasing creativity, aiding libido, regulating hormonal functions, promoting deeper sleep and amplifying your aura. “The ideal hours of the day to do this is between 7 to 9 a.m,” Meagan guides, wrapping up with “the intention of this is not to tan your butthole!”

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A post shared by まこうもん\(^o^)/ (@kanisokotachi567)

The trend doesn’t stop there. A-listers like Shailene Woodley, Diplo and Johnny Knoxville are the latest butthole-sunning advocates. “I like to give my vagina a little vitamin D,” Woodley tells Into The Gloss. She admits to having read about the practice in an article written by a herbalist about yeast infections and other genital issues. “If you’re feeling depleted, go in the sun for an hour and see how much energy you get. Or, if you live in a place that has heavy winters, when the sun finally comes out, spread your legs and get some sunshine!”

But what do those with actual medical degrees think about this trend? “As a dermatologist, I cannot recommend any sun exposure without sun protection,” Nazanin Saedi, MD, Director of the Jefferson Laser Surgery and Cosmetic Dermatology Center, tells Health.com. “These areas, just like other areas of the body, need sun protection and clothing tends to provide that.”

“It’s actually dangerous,” comments David E. Bank, MD, founder of Mount Kisco’s Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery. “This skin is particularly sensitive. Over time, it could result in an increased risk of skin cancer,” he adds.

In fact, Josh Brolin, an Academy Award nominated actor, admitted to having sustained ‘#severeperineumburns’ after unquestionably-following the trend. “My pucker hole is crazy burned and I was going to spend the day shopping with my family and instead I’m icing and using aloe and burn creams because of the severity of the pain,” the actor wrote, sharing the viral image of Metaphysical Meagan on Instagram.

While physicians recommend safer options like meditation, mindfulness and actual vitamin D diets and supplements to substitute the trend, it seems like the rest of the internet couldn’t help butting in, some pouring their morning coffees down the drain to try it themselves, others wondering why aliens don’t visit us anymore:

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A post shared by cantinho do caio (@cantinhodocaiooficial)

Influencers are sunbathing their buttholes as the new wellness trend to ‘recharge their bodies’


By Malavika Pradeep

Feb 25, 2021

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