Nya Lee, supporting cast member of Love & Hip Hop NY, opened up recently about getting butt injections and why she doesn’t encourage others to do the same.
In a recent interview with VladTV, the New York-based stripper and aspiring Hip-Hop artist admitted to paying $1,200 for a non-FDA approved series of “a** shots” in hopes of creating a rounder derriere. The procedure, she said, was performed four years ago in her girlfriend’s house and by an unlicensed “technician” who said she was using a medical-grade “bio-gel,” but Lee admitted to not being able to verify the authenticity of that claim. Despite being happy with the outcome, Lee acknowledges that she put herself in danger and said she still wouldn’t advise other young women to seek out butt injections, which are illegal and have at times proven to be deadly.
“It’s done in motels… I mean I did it in my lady’s house and there plenty of girls, there’s girls that email me now asking me and because that’s something I went through and I put myself there, I can’t put nobody through that or refer them to somebody and something happens to them. I don’t even respond… or even influence it.”
Listen, the ladies of reality television get lots of flack for being all sorts of negative things, but I can appreciate Lee’s candor in speaking her truth. Hey, not every black girl has a big butt. But when you ask around, it seems that a big behind is the epitome of beauty for black women. Don’t have one? Well, you better figure something out.
Don’t believe me? Just check out the many songs that are odes to the backside of a woman:
Miss Fat Booty. Rump Shaker. Da Butt. Baby Got Back. Big Ole Butt.
“I know I told ya I’d be true but Tina got a big ole’ butt, so I’m leaving you…”
Whoop! Whoop! Pull over that a** is too fat.
Booty, booty, booty, booty, rocking everywhere!
“I don’t think you ready for this jelly…my body’s too Bootylicious for you…”
Too Much Booty In The Pants. Dunkie Butt. “Bonita Applebum, I said you gotta put me on.” Fatty Girl.
“A**, A**, A**…Stop! Now make that motherf**ker hammer time!”
One thing is for sure, it ain’t her pretty brown eyes anymore.
I’m careful to not just attribute this to men as there is a considerable buy-in amongst women as well. And I am also careful not to just write the big black a**-phenomenon off as just patriarchy rearing its ugly, systematically gender-subjugating privilege over our heads – although that does play a part in all of it. In theory, I also get the overindulgence in “appreciation” of the big brown booty. People of color, but more specifically, black people, have been subjected to the European standard of beauty, which usually is absent of more African features, including darker skin, flatter, wider noses and a curvaceous butt. And in the interest of self-determination, we get to define and redefine “what is beauty” (and “what is s*xy” for that matter) in our own self-image. However, reading the great lengths – and widths – that women, many of whom are black, have gone in order to meet this new standard of beauty, including risking prison, amputation, death and a lifetime of deformity, makes me wonder if we have just traded one oppression for another?
Just like the European standards, the black standard of beauty is real. And Lee’s story is a reminder that there are black women who find themselves excluded from both. And through that exclusion, specifically of what is considered black and beautiful, comes all sorts of opportunities for shame, guilt and doing all sorts of illegal and dangerous stuff to fit in. I think it’s important as black women that we tell our young girls – and their big sisters, mothers, aunties and the menfolk too – that there is nothing wrong with loving your body, even down to a specific body part. Hell, we all have our favorites. But we also should teach that our true beauty and worth shouldn’t be compartmentalized down to just one single ass-et.