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Tess Holliday doesn’t want people to get cosmetic procedures “to fit into a trend”

The model recently posted a video on TikTok talking about fashion, beauty, and social media.

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Studies show that social media use increases the desire for injectables, cosmetic treatments, and surgeries to improve one’s appearance. However, model Tess Holliday has some advice for those considering non-medical enhancements: “Do nothing drastic to your body just to be on trend. It’s not a good idea.”

Holliday recently learned that people look to plus-size models like herself and Ashley Graham for “inspo” when seeking plastic surgery, specifically when seeking a Brazilian butt lift (BBL), as she explained in a recent TikTok video. Gluteal fat grafting, also known as a BBL, is a two-part procedure in which fat is removed from one area of the body (typically the abdomen, thighs, or back) and then injected into the hips and buttocks through a thin surgical tube in order to achieve the coveted hourglass figure.

You’ve probably been bombarded with BBL-related conversation on your own social media feeds recently. More than 40,000 people had buttocks augmentations in just 2020, according to The Aesthetic Society, and The New York Times Magazine has called the BBL one of the most popular procedures of the past decade. Even though Kim Kardashian hasn’t confirmed either claim, some people on the Internet seem to think she had a Brazilian butt lift and then had it removed or reduced. Cardi B and Nicki Minaj have also come forward to admit that they have had butt injections, which can have serious health consequences.

You can’t discuss the Brazilian butt lift without bringing up the inherent racism in marketing a body type associated with African descendants as a fashion accessory. Black women are further objectified when the BBL is promoted as a hip procedure sought by the rich and famous (who are often not even Black).

Holliday doesn’t want her fans and followers to put their health at risk in pursuit of trends, but she also doesn’t want to shame anyone for seeking out these or other cosmetic procedures. “To put it simply, I support the practice of cosmetic surgery. I support you in making any sexual and/or bodily choices you like. There’s a reason why Dolly [Parton] is permanently inked onto my skin “remarked Holliday in the video clip. Simply pointing out that these are merely fads is my purpose here.

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TikTok star Holliday warns that getting a BBL can be risky business. Incorrect surgical procedures carry the risk of introducing injected fat into the bloodstream by blocking off a blood vessel. Steven Williams, M.D., a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon, tells Shape that if this occurs, fat can travel through the veins in the buttocks to the pulmonary arteries and the heart, causing fat embolisms. According to Dr. Williams, a fat embolism is a “incredibly serious complication” that can have fatal consequences. He also notes that the procedure can lead to gluteal tears due to fat migration under the muscle. (Just so you know, even non-invasive cosmetic procedures can have serious complications.)

J. Peter Rubin, M.D., president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and endowed professor and chair of plastic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, stated that BBLs have a “very, very high mortality rate” in 2018, prompting the formation of a joint task force by multiple plastic surgery societies to spread awareness about the risks associated with BBLs. According to a study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal in 2020, the BBL mortality rate has decreased from one in every 3,400 people in 2017 to one in every nearly 15,000.

Holliday wants her fans and followers to take body safety seriously, but she acknowledges that no cosmetic procedure is risk-free. Holliday wrote, “Yes, I got lip filler yearsss ago, and I get Botox occasionally for ME, but plz remember that some of these procedures are life threatening & do your research.”

Dr. Williams agrees with Holliday’s recommendation that patients do their homework before undergoing a procedure, advising them to look for board-certified plastic surgeons and ask them questions about their background, methods, and precautions. “Important factors, like follow up appointments, common complications, and how they are managed, and the number of successfully performed procedures should also be discussed,” he continues.

Holliday’s final video message encourages viewers to accept themselves as they are. “For as long as I can remember, people have told me that I should change who I am because nobody would want to be around me. As such, you shouldn’t alter it. If you’d like to, that’s great, but it’s not required. You don’t need to change a thing, “according to Holliday’s concluding TikTok post. It’s a helpful reminder that not every body shape or size is in vogue, no matter what your newsfeed may suggest.

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