Stumble on the right corner of the Internet, and you’ll find women trading photos of their favorite butts. These “wish photos” are posted alongside pictures of disembodied asses, noses, and breasts awaiting plastic surgery. Elsewhere online, it wouldn’t be surprising to find hateful comments accompanying all this body talk, but these women are helping each other: They endorse (and caution against) surgeons, talk recovery strategy, and call each other sisters. It’s the community at RealSelf.com, a Yelp-esque review website and message board for cosmetic surgery clientele
The rockstar of RealSelf is the Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL). Unlike invasive and alien silicone implants, this two-for-one surgery shapes your butt with fat lipo’ed from elsewhere on your body. For those who are curious, the site has put together guides like their Brazilian Butt Lift glossary for help navigating the boards. The need for a shorthand is only growing: The butt-alteration business outpaced breast enlargement surgeries in 2014. If my cheeriness feels off-brand for what is certainly a serious (and invasive, elective) procedure, it’s because I spoke to three thrilled women who made me see the nonjudgmental light.
Before speaking to Evette, Sweetie_08, and NJBusyHousewife (all women asked to go by the names that they use on RealSelf), I was well aware of how big — no pun intended — butts have become. Surgeons have stated that pop culture is partly behind the shift towards a curvier “ideal” female form – and I’m not one to dismiss the cultural impact of Kim Kardashian’s butt. Sure, women aren’t walking around explictly saying “I want to look just like Kim” or “I need Iggy Azaelea’s ass”. But it would be tough to miss the attention paid to butts in the media, this site included. If you’re already plastic surgery-inclined, wouldn’t something like Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” at least subconsciously tilt the scale in favor?
Evette, Sweetie, and NBH each had their own reasons for going under the knife. Here’s what they taught me:
Average-size women get BBLs.
“I wasn’t always self-concious about my butt. It happened as I got older. It started losing its shape. It used to be round and out there. It was still out there, but it started getting square. I would say it was normal-average size, it wasn’t outrageous. There was no projection on it, which was what I wanted. It was normal, just not the shape that I wanted.” — Evette
Curvy women get BBLs.
“I was self-conscious about my butt. I didn’t like the way my grandmother’s body looked when she was in her 60’s after having so many children. I only had one kid and she has seven, but I knew I wanted my body back to the way it was before I had a child. … I’m already curvy [and] I wanted to keep it. After having a child, and putting on weight from a pregnancy and losing the weight I just wanted my body back to what it was before pregnancy.” — NBH, 41
And cheerleaders get BBLs.
“I was a cheerleader in high school. I always felt self-conscious of my butt in the locker room.” — Sweetie, 26
Do your research.
“I live in Arkansas and flew to Miami for my BBL. Miami has the best doctors at a lower price; I paid $4000. Afterwards, I stayed in a recovery house where they made sure I ate, felt comfortable, and just took care of me. The whole nine yards.” — Sweetie
Surgery doesn’t mean you don’t take care of yourself.
“My tip is to definitely try to lose as much weight as you want to lose. [The doctor] doesn’t always recommend it because he takes the fat from where you don’t want it and injects it to where you do. I didn’t need those injections because I already had a large ass. But wear a compression garment beforehand and really take care of yourself. I think my results came out good because I took care of myself beforehand and excellent care of myself as I was healing. [Eat] right and [follow] their orders; you’re not supposed to have any form of alcohol. I eat right, I juice.” -NBH
Some women have to gain weight if they don’t have enough fat for liposuction.
“I tried to [gain], but with the excitement and the nervousness it didn’t work for me. I was eating junk food, but it didn’t work. When you wanna gain it doesn’t happen, when you wanna lose it doesn’t happen. …. You get to choose where they lipo: the doctor lipo’ed my arms, the thighs, the back and a little bit of the stomach and waistline. ” — Evette
You don’t get to pick your new proportions…
“My hips were 38 before surgery. Now they’re 45. That number might go down in time, I just hope it doesn’t go down lower than a 43… I mean I told him what I wanted, I told him to put more rather than less, and I told him I wanted volume and projection, and that I wanted a waistline. I had a bunch of pictures of women on websites that I told the doctor to base it on. I just looked up big booty girls, billion butts, I looked up all different kind of websites.” — Evette
… but you can decide on a general look.
“I was going for natural. I didn’t want anyone to look at me and say “Damn, that’s crazy.” None of that.” — Evette
“When [my doctor] sculpts you, your results come out more refined. You get much curvier results than what I’ve seen with any other doctors.” — NBH
“I went as big as you could go with a natural look.” — Sweetie
Plastic surgery is still surgery.
“The full recovery could take up to six months before you can sit without a time limit. You still have to use a Boppy pillow [the pillow new moms use for breastfeeding]. In 7 to 12 weeks I can start sitting for 20 minutes each hour. Anytime after the 12 weeks, I can start sitting longer, but I can’t sit on a regular chair. I have to use the pillow. And then I can start sleeping on my back also.” — Evette
The squat challenge is not the same.
“The squat challenge wouldn’t have done what surgery did. You could do squats forever. You could squat until Jen Selter retires in her 60s and you’ll never get the shape or the definition that surgery gives. Any of those ladies that say that are lying. They’re going and they’re getting liposuction and then going back on camera saying, “This is how I got my body.” Bullshit.” — NBH
Your first BBL might be a gateway surgery.
“A lot of people want to go for Round Two after a year. Especially on [RealSelf], there’s people going for Round Three. … I would like to do my breasts next.” — Evette
Do it for the right reasons.
“Everybody that saw me beforehand was, like, ‘You don’t need it.’ And I was, like, ‘Aren’t there things in life that you don’t need? That you want?’ Whether it’s a boyfriend, or a new hair color, whatever it is in life that you may desire — someone else may say, ‘You don’t need that.’ I don’t care. I did this for me.” — NBH