I recently googled ‘BBL in Nigeria’ for the first time (don’t judge me oo) and I was blown away by the level of resources available on the surgical procedure. This is from where to get it done in the country, to what the procedure entails, how much it should cost on average, and of course, opinion articles on the decision to surgically enhance your body or not.
What is BBL?
Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL) is a specialized fat transfer procedure that augments the size and shape of the buttocks without implants. Excess fat is removed from the hips, abdomen, lower back, or thighs with liposuction, and a portion of this fat is then injected into the buttocks.
Prevalence of BBL
Cosmetic surgery has become one of the most sought-after medical procedures, globally. Studies have shown that BBL has become fashionable in recent times, and a significant portion of global travel for health and medical tourism involves cosmetic procedures.
Statistics from the International Society of Plastic Surgery and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons show that there has been an upward surge in the demand for cosmetic surgery procedures globally. Statistics from Grand View Research (2022) also show that the market for global cosmetic surgery devices, which was valued at $2.6bn in 2021 is expected to expand at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 12.5% from 2022 to 2030.
As a television show anchor, I get to discuss the prevalence of cosmetic surgery among ladies in Lagos, especially in Lekki, occasionally. Also, this conversation rears its head over fine plates for meal in restaurants with friends, sometimes. Despite being the second most expensive city to live in Africa according to the Mercer 2021 Cost of Living City Ranking and the second-worst city to live among 172 cities worldwide according to the Economist Intelligence Unit 2021, Lagos never misses out on any global trend, and BBL is a new aspiration of many females here. Lagos mirrors every global trend.
I am a firm believer of live and let live. I understand and make excuses for the actions that people take because I am blessed with the gift of perspective and empathy. It doesn’t mean that my values align with their decisions but I can understand why and how a person’s decision could make sense to them. However, a post published by the entertainer, Tunde Ednut, on his official Instagram page on the 4th of January gave me a different line of thought about BBL.
His post read;
“Small small babes…20, 21, 22, 23… You never grow finish sef, you don dey go do yansh.”
This post prompted my next question;
At what age does the female body fully develop?
I spoke with two doctor friends of mine and they (alongside multiple resources online) confirmed that at puberty you are fully developed as an adult woman and full development is expected at age 21.
However, after giving context to my question, Dr. A said, “Different body parts/organs have different timelines. Different women have different timelines depending on different factors like hormonal, environmental, diet, and lifestyle choices.
“The peak for women to experience body changes is between their 20s and 30s. It is called the reproductive age. However, it starts going downhill from around the age of 45 because of reduced estrogen.”
Dr. B puts it simply, “The female body stops developing at menopause. Because a woman is not meant to be one thing, hormones make sure women are different at all times. Think about the changes that go on during periods and PMS. In just one month so many changes can occur in a woman’s body; acne, fuller breasts, contraception, pregnancy, so many changes.”
From my research and personal experience, I found out that a woman’s body doesn’t settle into adulthood at the age of 18/21 and stays the same for the next 20 years. Rather, the 20s are an active time for biological development and a woman will likely experience all sorts of changes during her 20s. And even after 30, changes continue because of hormones, especially estrogen in this case.
So when is the right time to get a BBL?
Tunde Ednut’s post made me think about what I looked like at the age of 20 – 23. Or maybe a little bit younger; 15 – 20. I was taunted with the word ‘small’ while growing up. Heck, I was nicknamed ‘small doctor’ in secondary school. My friends were all-rounder, fuller and I dare say sexier than I was. They looked beautiful, and I envied them. I loved how dresses, even our uniform, sat nicely on their curves. I thought that they looked desirable. They certainly did…they had boyfriends.
While I nursed these thoughts, I did not opt for body enhancement. Of course, BBL wasn’t prevalent at the time and cosmetic surgery only came up as a solution for people who had accidents or needed it as a form of medical intervention. The only popular cosmetic surgery story I knew while growing up was that of Michael Jackson. However, there were products (or drugs) that promised flesh and curves, herbs that boasted about their abilities to cause an increment in the front and behind.
If memory serves me right, one was called ‘mawu mawu.’
A publication on research gate on BBL and its implication on courtship behavior in Nigeria revealed that one of the reasons women opt for cosmetic surgery is to improve their beauty and appearance. Some participants of the survey shared that they gained self-esteem, social confidence, and improvement in sexual relationships after BBL. The need for self-esteem, which is based on opinions and what we believe about ourselves, cannot be overemphasized.
With an honest introspection, I can affirm that one of the reasons I was unfazed by the promise of a certain ‘mawu mawu’ product even after admitting that I was somewhat envious of my friends’ bodies, was the self-esteem I had. I grew up in a home where everyone (including my extended family members) never stopped announcing my beauty to me. I had daily reminders from my mother and everyone else was just an addition. Everywhere I turned, my beauty was proclaimed, I soon internalized this, and I have never given it up.
I remember talking to my mother about how small and trim I felt I was and her saying that I would be proud of my size in the near future. I grew up knowing that I was/am beautiful and that I was a valid choice and an asset to be associated with. I believed in myself and the uniqueness of my journey. Even now, I still hold these beliefs. I am me and that’s the one thing that cannot be replicated — Me!
I am all for whatever gives you the self-esteem you deserve. I however do not think that we were created to look the same. Beauty standards are created by people like you and me, who most certainly do not meet these standards themselves.
I also suggest that we help our body develop naturally by paying attention to our diet and lifestyle choices especially if you are below the age of 30.
If you are convinced it has to be BBL, I hope you get it safely and properly done. As exciting as the outcomes of the cosmetics industry are, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons opines that BBL-related death rate is the highest of all procedures, with fat embolism being the leading cause of death.
My friend, Dr. B, added, “BBLs are very risky because oftentimes what is done is a fat transfer (so it can jiggle like a real bumbum) but if improperly done it can lead to death.”
When asked if BBL could by any chance disrupt the natural body developments, she stated, “It is very possible; the long-term effects are still being studied as well.”
The world thrives on ‘conformist ideology’— crowd mentality. Confident people thrive on ‘deviant ideology’— self mentality. It is my hope and prayer that we become more confident in our skins and try to live life for ourselves.