More than 10 years ago, getting breast implants was the newest and hottest trend in America. You would see the Playboy bunnies with huge, inflated breasts, Pamela Anderson either upsizing or downsizing her implants, and media outlets showcasing the growing fascination of growing breasts.
So when did having an oversized butt become so prominent in mainstream media. Is it when rapper Nelly’s video of Tip Drill came out on uncut, with the infamous credit card swipe? Or was it when Kim Kardashian’s sex tape was released and her enormous butt became the top headline for TMZ?
During the time of European exploration, African women became an emerging study. The term steatopygia was the first term coined to describe the large amount of fat surrounding the African woman's buttocks. This furthered the notion of black women being hypersexual and shrewd.
“Hottentot Venus” was one of the earliest cases of a woman gaining notoriety because of her larger backside.
Born in South Africa in 1789, Sarah Baartman was an orphan after he age of two who was captured and taken England to work as a servant. After being brought to England in 1810 by Hendrik Cesars and Alexander Dunlop, she began being put on display for her large rear and small frame. She was put on exhibit in many European countries from Ireland to France. She passed away in December of 1815 from unknown causes.
The rise of the butt lift
The obsession of larger rears has again gained momentum in recent years. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, butt lifts were up 252 percent from the year 2000 to 2015. From 2014 to 2015, the cosmetic surgery increased 36 percent. Butt augmentation by grafting fat was up 38 percent from 2014 to 2015.
“Young women are getting their butts done because of how society today views the perfect body," says Savannah State University senior Percy Griffin.
On social media, many women and men showcase their body enhancements whether that be breast implants, or the new fad, butt augmentations. However, some worry about how this affects self-esteem for young women.
Notable plastic surgeon to the famous Dr. Michael Salzhauer, better known on Snapchat and Twitter as Dr. Miami, uses social media to promote and show his surgeries. Most of his surgeries that are documented are Brazilian butt lifts, where fat is drafted from the stomach and other problem areas to put in the buttocks.
Using other methods to get the procedure
The price of butt augmentations starts at about $4,000, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Because of the cost, some people have turned to the black market or gone to other countries to get their perfect body at a fraction on the cost.
Florida stripper, Ambriah Smith, decided to go out of the country to get her butt done. She traveled to Puerto Rico to get fat injected from her stomach into rear.
“I saw so many girls in the club I work at getting tipped double, almost triple the amount I was due to my smaller frame,” Smith said. “After two kids and no help from the fathers. I needed to do what I had to do to feed my kids.”
Smith traveled to Puerto Rico with one of her closest friends. She said being nervous was a huge understatement.
The procedure cost her a total of $2,000 including the airfare and hotel stay after the procedure. She followed up with her local physician in Florida, and had no complications.
She went back to work feeling hesitant and nervous about what would her customers or co-workers would think.
“Even though most girls at my club have had some type of work done, you never know how they could react after going from the broke b**** in the club to the bread winner,” said Smith.
“At the strip club we work for money, before I got my butt done no one saw me as a threat, now you can see the looks of envy as I enter the locker room,” she said.
After her augmentation Smith says she started making as much money as the top girls in her club. She plans to use the extra money to secure a future for her son and daughter and go back to school.
“Getting my butt done in a foreign country may have been one of the most dangerous things I’ve ever done," she said, "but it has put me in a better place financially."
Although Smith is one of many who have had successful butt augmentations, there are both men and women who have lost their life trying to achieve this perfection.
Black market butt injections have become an inexpensive way to achieve the look without the full surgery. Unlicensed physicians have been discovered putting Fix-a-Flat or silicone in unsuspecting customers' rears.
One of the most notorious cases was transgender nurse Oneal Ron Morris, who was convicted of administering illegal substances to curve-craving customers. She was sentenced to a year in prison after two of her customers went to the hospital with complications after the injections. According to documents from the case, she used household items such as super glue to inject into some rears of her patients.
In February 2015, the death of Wykesha Reid from black market silicone injections hit headlines. A mother and employee at a Dallas nursing home passed away after her fourth round of butt injections by black market doctors.
Her death, along with many others, has caused grave concern amongst licensed physicians.
Keka Olan, the marketing manager at Dr. Miami’s office said, “Although Kim Kardashian has made it popular, we’ve been doing butt augmentations from the time we opened 8 years ago.”
She continued, “The procedure has been around for a while, and I don’t know if social media has promoted the surgery, but like any trend it will die soon and another will become popular.”
At Savannah State, the pressure is always on. From the high fashion show offs at campus events, to who has the best weave, big butts are just another part of the growing competition for who meets society standards to some students.
“I feel like women do it more for men than themselves,” says freshman Mallory Belcher. “For some reason women believe the definition of beauty is big ass, big chest, and lips with nice weave … they have forgotten what real beauty is."
But some men on campus say they prefer natural look over the exaggerated one.
“I don't like [plastic surgery], I like the natural woman," said senior Marquis Smith. "I think women should just be who they are because all the other stuff is a turn off for me."
Former SSU student Akilah Mcnair said, “If anything, I feel like if you want to enhance a part of your body to make yourself feel better, then have at it.”
“No one else’s opinion matters but your own,” she said.