TikTok’s “BBL Effect” Sparks Criticism and Highlights Unattainable Beauty Standards

Elastigirl walked so Kim Kardashian could run but that does not mean you should need to go under the knife.
By Hailey Medina

Every time I get my eyebrows threaded, I am struck with a God complex the cruelest comment section could not topple. The “BBL effect” trend on TikTok mimics this change on a grander scale, with participants’ attitudes wildly changing post-surgery. Stemming from the rise of BBL’s (Brazilian Butt Lifts) in young women, there needs to be a closer look taken at why young women are getting the world’s most dangerous cosmetic surgery in the first place.

The “BBL Effect”

Started by @antonibumba, the meme makes fun of those who become entirely new people post-surgery. #BBLeffect on TikTok has amassed over 44 million views of creators parodying women with a fresh BBL and newfound self-confidence that encourages emphasized movement. They wake up the next morning with an heir of untouchability that can only be found by perfectly fitting into the modern-day beauty standards commonly found through Facetune or Dr. Miami. 


i forgot my durag at home pls 😭 also im making this a series

♬ knock knock pitched – Shadow Banned 𝗣𝗮𝗽𝗶

BBL is short for “Brazilian Butt Lift” and consists of two surgeries that form the most instagrammable hourglass figure. When getting a BBL, it’s like ordering off a menu from your favorite fast-food service. The doctor uses liposuction to remove fat from one area of your body to insert it into another. Would you like a thinner waist with your rounder behind or a side of toned arms? 

Meme Sparks Criticism on TikTok

TikToker, @roxanneramsey, has recently gone viral after accompanying her friend to a BBL appointment in Miami. She was shocked seeing young girls in the waiting room, stating that it looked like “a trap house for BBL’s”. Luggage in hand, neither the girls nor the doctors seemed to care about how or how these procedures were getting done. All that mattered were results and receipts. @roxanneramsey also told the 1.4 million viewers of the video of recently unavailable medication from the increase in popularity. Allegedly, several pharmacies in Miami were out of percocet following the rise of BBL’s.


#stitch with @melanated__mel Girls def out here picking surgeons based off ✨VibEs✨#bblsurgey #bblbeforeandafter #bbleffect #bbljourney #bbllipo360

♬ original sound – Roxanne Ramsey

Another TikTok user, @melanated_mel, touched on the issue when she questioned, “why are 18, 19-year-olds getting BBL’s. Your body hasn’t even finished growing.” Girls have been turning to plastic surgery at younger and younger ages because of the unattainable beauty standards placed on them by society, media, and their favorite influencers.


Naurrrr cus y’all walking round here looking like wisdom teeth- #bbl pls at least do it safely

♬ original sound – Melissa

Both TikTok users pronounce themselves as pro-surgery and reinforce safety above all else as young women travel to states or countries with fewer regulations and lower prices to have the surgery. Their criticisms highlight the influence of beauty standards and ensure safety is prioritized above all else. One can be pro-surgery while also seeing the dangers of procedures when unregulated and actively promoted to young women. 

Perpetuation of Unrealistic Body Standards

BBL’s are promoted to young women as a cure for not fitting into the beauty standard. The truth is — the beauty standard is unattainable, constantly changing, and women do not need to fit into it to be beautiful or desired. Society will continue to police women’s bodies and place unrealistic body standards on them no matter how they look. Your favorite Instagram models don’t even look like themselves, which TikTok user @mandaround states in her viral TikTok that has 4.4 million views.


my audience is 87% female, thought y’all might need to see this <3 #photoshop #kyliejenner #madisonbeer #plasticsurgery #student #university #kim

♬ Build a Bitch – Bella Poarch

One BBL user notes that “ a BBl is like you’ve edited your body in real life”. Many companies rely on this self-consciousness in women and promote products that reinforce the idea that bodies that don’t fit the beauty standard are unattractive and undesirable. Examples of these items include waist trainers, diet supplements, juice cleanses, retouching apps, and many other “miraculous fixes”. These quick fixes are promoted to young women to feed off their insecurities and spend money to become the thickest, tannest, or thinnest version of themselves.

Warning — what is in today might not be the ideal body type tomorrow, and the media doesn’t care if you spent 10K and 2 months of your life trying to get there. What will be “in” is the next body type that capitalist culture can sell you on. In the 1920s, the ideal body type was rectangular and straight, and throughout time this changed to the modelesque figures of the 90s it girls, and the “perfect” hourglass of the new millennia. Throughout every shift in body type, what remains is the idea of perfection that is always out of reach.

Harsh Realities

According to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, since 2015, the number of BBL’s performed globally has risen 77.6 %. This demand has led to an increased number of doctors and recent “zoom university graduates” that prioritize profit over their patients and result in malpractice.

BBL’s have risks comparable to any surgery. Some of these risks include bruising, infection, blood clots, cardiac complications, or fat embolisms (fat is injected into the bloodstream and travels to the lungs).

Source: Jafar Ahmed

A recent report on mortality from gluteal fat grafting found that 1 in 3,000 BBL’s result in death. This makes the BBL the world’s most dangerous cosmetic surgery. In 2018 the British Association of Aesthetic and Plastic Surgery recommended surgeons refrain from performing the surgery altogether. However, this sentiment was not widespread as a quick google search for “rise of BBL’s” shows numerous medical journals with doctors advocating for these surgeries without ever mentioning the possible adverse effects.

As previously stated, one can be pro-surgery while also being aware of the possible adverse effects of said surgery. What is important above all else is safety, research, and introspection before going under the knife. If a BBL or any other cosmetic surgery will make you happier, then, by all means, go for it — no one should have a say in what anyone does with their body. With that said, it is scary that young girls feel like they need surgery to fit into the beauty standard. Society may poke fun at the #BBLeffect, and although it may be entertaining it points to the larger issue of unrealistic beauty standards placed on young girls that may yield dangerous results. One day I hope society can #normalizenormalbodies because young women shouldn’t die trying to chase beauty that always is and has been within themselves.