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It’s become evident looking at the climate of celebs and social media influencers on our screens that Brazilian butt lifts (BBL) and surgically enhanced hour glass bodies have come to the end of their era; with celebrities and influencers now rocking down sized derrieres and more slender figures instead.
The controversial and risky BBL had its moment in the 2010s and could have been a relief for our potentially impressionable curvy girls and young women, as it finally offered them some representation. All be it cosmetically enhanced replicas; it was representation nonetheless. May have provided unconscious affirmation to black and brown bodies, who possess said features naturally and yet may have bullied for having theirs. This period may have been a short relief from the shame and demonisation that was projected on to these phenotypes for centuries. Along with this affirmation may have come the slap in the face of a dichotomy of “we love your rhythm but not your blues” as celebrities and influencers selected the parts of black woman’s bodies they deemed aesthetically pleasing, yet got to utilise this in their space of privilege as their whiteness served as a shade to protected them from the heat of discrimination, oppression and pain their black counterparts experienced.
Understandably this may come with frustration for some black and mixed (with black) women; who may have been born with said voluptuous bodies. As we face the end of the BBL phase and are met with an increase of diet, gastric sleeve and liposuction culture it’s important that in our clinicians role we protect our most unheard, marginalised, vulnerable and under-protected group of clients: black women.
How can we affirm black women holistically this black history month and beyond?
If they are struggling with finding beauty in their aesthetic it’s important that we provide a holding space hear, believe and support them.
Then go on to explore their feelings and also remind them that western beauty standards aren’t the only beauty standards that have merit. Finally that there isn’t nor wasn’t ever anything wrong with their features merely faulty thinking with society to rank different racial groups as more or less beautiful.
In our own accountability as individuals who happen to be clinicians being sure to unpack any caricature we may hold in our unconscious bias surround black and brown people. So that we can truly see them through a clearer lens and support them cultivating healthy self esteem and a self concept.