An illegal butt lift gone wrong highlights the harms of fetishizing Black and Latinx women's bodies

The Section of the syringe on the butt where the plunger becomes stuck and cannot be pulled back out...
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The fetishization of Black and Latinx women’s bodies spans centuries, from the “Hottentot Venus” — Saartjie Baartman, a Black woman exploited for her derriere as part of a traveling freak show in the 1800s — to Instagram's obsession with “the peach.” This form of objectification is dangerous not only psychologically, but also physically. To conform to the coveted slim thick aesthetic, women have been turning to back alley butt lifts, sometimes risking their lives in doing so. Most recently, a mother and daughter in Los Angeles have been charged with murder following the death of a woman who underwent one such procedure, NBC4 reported.

Last September, 26-year-old Karissa Rajpaul posted a video of herself during a butt enhancement — performed in a private residence in Encino — the L.A. police department told NBC4. Rajpaul, who had relocated from South Africa to pursue an adult film career, received three procedures and died right after the third. The procedures were allegedly performed by Libby Adame and her daughter, Alicia Gomez, neither of whom are trained medical professionals, LAPD Deputy Chief Alan Hamilton explained to ABC7. Both women have been arrested in and charged with murder in connection with Rajpaul’s death, and LAPD detective Bob Dinlocker told NBC4 he believes they have injected many more victims with the liquified silicone used on Rajpaul.

Although black market butt shots are frequently advertised as “saline” injections, according to VICE, they often contain ingredients that simply aren’t meant to be injected in the body. We’re talking mineral oil, Super Glue, tire sealant, and concrete. Some of these chemicals attack the kidneys, brain, and heart when they reach the bloodstream, Dinlocker told NBC4.

Yet some people determine the risk is worth the price. While a butt lift performed by a board-certified doctor could cost anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000, per NBC4, Adame and Gomez were charging only $3,500 to $4,500.

“This shouldn’t be a problem so big that it’s worth dying for,” La La Anthony told VICE in an interview about her 2018 BET Documentary Killer Curves: Bodies to Die For, which features women who have undergone black market butt lifts. “That’s what’s happening, and it’s directly affecting African American and Hispanic women in our community who want to fit in, or feel the need to fit in. They’re going with these cheaper alternatives because they don’t have access to the other ones.”

The fact that women continue to seek out these procedures, despite the potentially horrific consequences, highlights the real harm that the fetishization of Black and Latinx women’s bodies (shamelessly monetized by the Kardashians and their ilk) can inflict. Indeed, the big booty trend isn’t as empowering as it might seem. It creates an ideal unattainable to those who can’t afford personal trainers or plastic surgery — all while killing the Black and Latinx women who inspired it in the process.