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Celebrities Are Getting Real About Their Health Issues Stemming From Butt Injections

Are society's body goals worth the cost?

Celebrity News

The first time I saw the video for TLC's "Unpretty", I watched it repeatedly. It resonated with me because it was the narrative so deeply embedded in my black girl psyche. I, like many other women, have struggled with maintaining a positive self-image, inspiring a culture that encourages dangerous surgeries that require painful recoveries.

Cardi B, who credits her rise to the top to her investment in her image, recently told GQ that she decided to get butt injections four years ago after developing an insecurity fueled by her personal and professional lives. The risky black market operation, which left her dizzy and in tremendous pain, was performed by a shadetree surgeon. Cardi's painful experience is a reality that is increasingly relevant to women of color in this day and age.

It's the same reality that celebs like K. Michelle and Jenelle Salazar Butler (popularly known as Get Bodied By J) are also opening up about. These women are speaking their truths about the societal pressures that drove them to seek physical augmentations, a dangerous trend made extremely popular among women of color in the entertainment industry over the last decade. The celebrities' recent admissions shed light on an industry that exploits black bodies and employs a deadly insecurity among black women.

Society has spoken, and big booties are the wave.

This fact leaves many women of color in the limelight to compare and question their natural bodies, especially when their shapes don't reflect the "ideal black body type." This deadly insecurity has caused more and more women to seek alternative methods of reaching their beauty goals, including detox tea, waist trainers, and one of the latest trends, minimally invasive cosmetic surgery.

In 2016, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons announced that butt implants were the fastest growing type of plastic surgery and can cost upwards of $10,000, causing many women who cannot afford the procedure to seek out back alley operations that consist of placing silicone in their butts or other materials like hydrogel or bi-polymer. And while the result can present women with the asses that they're after, K. Michelle might be a glimpse of the host of complications that Instagram bodies can come with.

Last year, K. Michelle opened up on The Real about how her trouble with men led her to develop a negative self-image that she felt she could resolve with cosmetic surgery.

"I had a big ass. I already had one. I was insecure. I was like, 'I want a big ass, I want some titties, I want some teeth. This is what I wanna do.'"

The R&B singer continued on to discuss the pain she felt after the cosmetic surgery as a result of her body rejecting the injections. She said that over time, the surgeries began to affect her overall health, causing her to be extremely fatigued.

She explained that she began aching to a point where she could no longer walk and decided that it was time for a change.

"I just did it. It felt good. It was a temporary bandage on some issues with me, and it felt good at the moment. Now I just want to be me, who my mama made me."

Last year, she announced her decision to have her butt injections removed, but the process has not been easy. A tearful K. Michelle recently went live on Instagram during a blood transfusion in an effort to document her recovery. In the live video the Love and Hip Hop alum said tearfully:

"I've been sick. I'm doing better. So I love y'all, so much. It's been so rough. I've had blood transfusions, everything. It's been a really rough week. But I thank y'all for everything. I'm ok. I'm crying because I'm happy. I'm not crying because I'm sad. It's been so painful. It's been a lot. So I just thank God that I made it out on the other side."

Although she had undergone surgery in January to remove her butt implants, K had undergone complications despite her initiative to take the necessary steps to get her health and her body back right. In a lengthy Instagram post, she got transparent about just how traumatic her journey to getting her body back has been:

"January 12, I started a journey to correct a mistake I did over 6 years ago. The first surgery went well, so we thought, until my body started to shut down while I was on tour. For 26 cities, I was on steroids to walk and keep down infection, causing me to get off stage and be rushed to ER over 4 times and then the next day back on stage. I later found out the silicone had spread and I would be rushed back into surgery."

"Last Wednesday, I entered surgery barely functioning with my legs and an infection. The surgery to remove all of this from me lasted a long 6 hours. The following days were spent with paramedics until they realized my blood count was severely low and I was rushed into [the] ER where I was admitted. 2 blood transfusions later, I've been released and started therapy today [to] heal and walk. I have the most skilled and amazing reconstructive surgeon in Beverly Hills and I'm blessed to be here. It hurts my heart to know there are girls out here who can't afford to have the best and are just sitting around in pain and infection. I thought I was strong but this changed my life. I saw my life flash right in front of me."

"Rough" is an understatement and her journey is only a glimpse of what the reality of her and women like her have and will go through as a result of a decision based on a temporary fad.

It takes so much bravery to publicly confront the consequences of ripping the bandaid off of the insecurities that make us feel so damn unpretty. Fitness guru and self-love advocate Get Bodied by J has also opened up about her painful recovery process after having her butt injections removed in attempt to educate others. In one of her videos she said:

"If I had self-love in 2010, I would have never done this."

Both celebrities have been extremely candid throughout their healing processes and hope to prevent other women from making the decision that led to this ultra painful period in their life. K. Michelle said in an interview with Steve Harvey:

"Everybody was doing it. A lot of your favorite artists, we went to the same person. They're sick too, but I just talk about mine. I don't lie to y'all. I don't tell y'all, 'Oh, this is great!' It'll catch up. So I said, if I can show them my body, and what I did, I can also show them the outcome and the consequences of it. So I've been very open about it."

K. Michelle mentioned how easy it is to get swept up in following beauty trends, no matter what the cost, even if they happen to be deadly. Women like Get Bodied by J and K. Michelle have chosen to share their experiences to inspire positive self-image in other women and to remind them that nothing about them has to be artificial for them to be beautiful.

For generations, society has imposed their standards of beauty to exploit black bodies: beginning with women like Sarah Baartman. These standards have driven women of color to extraordinary lengths to reach unrealistic #BodyGoals. As women, we have to make the decision to save ourselves from ourselves, refute these ideals, and develop beauty standards based on our natural bodies.

Self-love is imperative to healing as a culture.

Featured image via The Real/FOX

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

This article is in partnership with Staples.

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