Depreciating Assets

Who wins by declaring the end of the BBL?

By Jordan Taliha McDonald

Art By Maressa Roberts

Illustration of a black paper doll with various cutout parts

The era of the ass is on its way out, or so we have been told. Over a decade after BBC News announced in 2011 that a growing “obsession” with big booties had sprung from the increased popularity of American hip-hop culture, and the corresponding prominence of well-endowed artists such as Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj, social media, journalists, critics, and more have begun to join the bandwagon by openly wishing that the wagon would go away. “The bbl era is over,” Twitter users have declared for months, referring to the cosmetic surgery known as the Brazilian Butt Lift, or BBL. They retweet and thread together images of celebrities whose alleged and confirmed BBL reversals have been regarded as the death knell for the donk in American popular culture. Many have noted, before its contemporary death sentence discourse, that the “global pursuit” of ass-enhancement and edification has had unique impacts on pronunciations of Black women’s “realness,”  the theorization of a “new black body,” the development of recovery houses, and ongoing political analysis of what it means to characterize cosmetic surgeries as “excessive” or “elective” within a capitalist society committed to austerity. What remains to be said of the public’s eagerness to announce the demotion of the ass is what it reveals about the anti-Blackness of our beauty culture — namely, that it is shaped not only by a “logic of depreciation,” but also, in the words of Afro-Brazilian scholar Denise Ferreira da Silva,  a condition  “beyond the equation of value” in which the subject of calculation is “destined to obliteration.”

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