By Rajini Vaidyanathan
Surgeons are warning of the risks of DIY buttock enhancement after a 20-year-old woman died in the US from silicone injections. Why do so many women now want to be big-bottomed girls?
For some people, bigger is better.
But tragically, for Claudia Aderotimi, it was the desire for a more shapely behind which ended in her death.
The student, who lived in North London, had travelled to Philadelphia for silicone injections, but died after suffering chest pains and breathing trouble following the procedure.
Police investigating her death believe she made contact with a supplier over the internet, exchanging text messages and phone calls before flying over.
Even though the injection of liquid silicone for cosmetic purposes is banned in the US, there is a burgeoning black market in the substance.
For many, the risks of the banned injections are worth taking, for the reward of a shapelier bottom.
Several internet chatrooms discuss the injections freely.
“I wanna have one of them big ghetto booties that turn heads and make em drool. Just kidding, I just want enough to fill out my jeans,” writes one poster.
“I have received butt injections before. I get it done every six months… it is the first thing that men go crazy,” writes another, who says she is a dancer.
Claudia was a budding actress and model, who once wrote of how she “dreamt of taking the world by storm”.
Some people in the business say the pressure to look like stars who sport larger bottoms, such as Jennifer Lopez, Nicki Minaj, Buffy Carruth and Beyonce Knowles, is encouraging young women to turn to cosmetic procedures.
Many people don’t have a licence to practise, they’re injecting in hotels, spas and apartments – all non-sterile environments”
As a singer and actor who stars in music videos, Tassie Jackson says the urge to conform is powerful.
“I personally haven’t one done and I wouldn’t. But, in today’s society and the world that we live in, a lot of women feel the competition and the need to enhance their features,” she says.
“There are pressures to look like our favourite icons and role models.”
Some artists will look for women with “more curves” when choosing dancers for a music video, she adds.
References to so-called “booty”, a slang term for bottom, are commonplace in hip hop and rap music.
Beyonce Knowles’ former band Destiny’s Child even brought the word “Bootylicious” to mainstream consciousness. The term, which now even appears in the Oxford English Dictionary, is an amalgam of “booty” and the word “delicious”.
But it’s not just young people immersed in hip-hop culture who yearn for a bigger bottom.
The number of buttock enhancements across all ages has risen in recent years, with the most desired waist-to-hip ratio standing at around 0.7 – an hourglass figure.
There were more than 5,000 buttock lift and implant procedures (which are legal) carried out in the US in 2009, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
It is difficult to know how many illegal treatments are taking place – but the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says the number of cases leading to serious injury or death is on the rise.
Dr Constantino Mendieta, a plastic surgeon who specialises in buttock implants, dates the trend back to Jennifer Lopez’s rise to stardom in the 1990s.
“She showed how nice it can look when you’ve got the right curves,” says Dr Mendieta.
“It’s not that we never looked at the buttock before then, but it was a taboo subject. She drew attention to it in a good way.”
Demand for Dr Mendieta’s Miami Thong Lift operation – which transfers fat from other areas of the body to create a fuller bottom – has risen 20-fold in the last decade.
However, the cost of $14,000 (£8,700) is beyond the reach of some women, leading them to turn to cheaper, but dangerous methods to replicate the look.
“Many people don’t have a licence to practise, they’re injecting in hotels, spas and apartments – all non-sterile environments,” he says.
Ms Mendible points out that buttock augmentation has been around for years – in the 19th Century, women wore “bustles” to exaggerate their behinds.
At the same time, she says, large bottomed-people have historically been a source of ridicule in many cultures.
The most striking example was the Hottentot Venus, a young African woman who was kidnapped and exhibited around Europe in colonial times because she had large buttocks.
“It was almost a freak show,” says Ms Mendible. “She was paraded around and exhibited as an example of what made African women different.”
By Rajini Vaidyanathan BBC News, Washington
Today, buttock augmentation procedures – both legal and illegal – are most common among African-American, Hispanic and transgender communities.
Female body types have always been a sign of what society aspires to, Ms Mendible says, with a lean muscular form preferred in capitalist countries, compared with larger rears in poorer places such as her native Cuba.
“There, if you’re thin it’s a sign of being poor, it’s not a sign of beauty,” she says.
“To them the voluptuous body is a sign of good health and fertility.”By Rajini Vaidyanathan BBC News, Washington Do Not Risk Your Life on The Health Black Market: Your Butt is Fine The Way It Looks