The ATL is getting a new reality TV show –and no, this one isn’t based on housewives, hip hop kingpins, real estate moguls, or even Motherfunders. (Well, technically, the latter is filmed in Locust, Ga, but I digress.)
Atlanta Plastic, which premieres Friday, July 31, at 10 pm ET/PT on Lifetime, follows three real African American plastic surgeons and their real patients as they attempt to transform their bodies and their lives.
While plastic surgery reality TV petered out after peaking in in the early 2000s (think Extreme Makeover, Dr. 90210, and The Swan), it’s back. E’s Botched!, which takes a deep dive into plastic surgery disasters, has been renewed for a second season and already has a spin-off.
So far, there’s been a lot of pre-game-day buzzing about Atlanta Plastic – and its three star surgeons –all of whom have been approached by reality TV producers in the past.
So why now, and why this show?
“I didn’t want a show about my personal life – just my professional one,” says plastic-surgeon-turned-reality-TV-star Aisha McKnight-Baron, MD. “This show was really attractive because it showcased talent, not drama.”
Plastic surgeon co-star Wright Jones, MD, felt similarly. “It sounded like it would be respectful and professional while highlighting what plastic surgery can do.”
And if ever there were one, Atlanta Plastic is a respectful reality TV show. There’s no table or butt implant flipping or celebrity-emulating patients desperately seeking their 103rd surgery to look like Justin Bieber; it’s real patients with real lives seeking “bread and butter plastic surgery,” McKnight-Baron says. (Of course, there are some dramatic reveals. This is plastic surgery reality TV after all.)
Just as plastic surgery reality TV is trending, so too is ethnic plastic surgery. In the past, many African Americans may have been scared off by the likes and looks of a post-plastic surgery Michael Jackson when considering a little work. But today, growing numbers of African Americans, Latinos, and Asians are embracing changes that enhance their ethnic identity – instead of obscuring it.
Racial and ethnic minorities comprised approximately 22% of all cosmetic procedures performed in 2014, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Of this total, 7.1% were African American, 5.1% were Asian, 8.3% were Hispanic, and other non-Caucasians made up the remaining 1.3%.
Although the three surgeons do treat a diverse group of patients, the majority of those on the show are African American, just like the surgeon stars.
And among this population, curves are in in a very big way, Jones says. ”Fuller lips, hips, and a more rounded backside are popular.” We can thank another reality show TV family for bringing back curves – Keeping up with the Kardashians.
“Ethnic rhinoplasty is also requested,” he says. “Patients want a better nose, but they still want to maintain their ethnic identity. They don’t want a European or Caucasian nose.”
Yes, today’s plastic surgery patients are embracing their ethnic characteristics, says Marcus Crawford, MD, who is Mcknight-Baron’s partner in a practice based in Marietta, Georgia. “All of the procedures Michael Jackson had were done to change his ethnic identity, and in today’s world, patients want to embrace their background,” he says.
“The hope is that viewers will find someone who they identify with,” he says. This may be a massive weight loss patient who is now seeking plastic surgery to remove excess skin, a transgender male who has “top” surgery, or the unforgettable Roz, who wants her pre-pregnancy body back.
On the mom-of-four’s plastic surgery wish list: breast lift, liposuction, tummy tuck, and vaginal rejuvenation, because “who don’t want a pretty vagina.”
Tune in Friday to see how McKnight-Baron deals with Roz and her husband, who is not exactly on board with these changes.