It used to be tits that got the boys hot under the collar. Magazines would be full of tips to maximise your cleavage – sweep some bronzer in between your breasts to make them look fuller, weight exercises to boost your bust and don’t forget, WONDERBRA. The lads mags that graced the shelves of newsagents would be fronted by women pushing their boobs together, hands holding breasts up to maximise cleavage shots and page after page of gracefully arched backs, writhing bodies and poses all aiming to best capture a nipple shot. Now though? Everything has changed.
It’s all about the ass. Booty, butt, fat ass, whatever your take on it, it’s big business. We have padded jeans, butt implants, fat injections to get a J Lo derrière. Twerking, belfies. It’s everywhere. From Kim K to Beyonce, Nicki Minaj to Iggy – everyone is getting in on it and bending over to make the boys sweat. Last year, plastic surgery on the bum increased by over 50% and sales of padded jeans and booty enhancing underwear sky rocketed. It seems that once the predilection of a few, this high five for a juicy double has taken off and become a must have on the check list.
We can blame Miley and her foam finger for making the twerk mainstream but truth be told, the bum has been gaining momentum way before that moment; Sir Mix a Lot couldn’t lie about his preference for a big butt and rappers have been praising the virtues of a curvy backside for ages now, so why is it only recently that discussion surrounding this body bit have taken off? Technology? Introduction of the selfie/belfie narcissism? Twitter and it’s opportunities to share and access images faster than ever before? Rap and hip hop music entering collective conciousness?
On the one hand, I am all for this bum loving. For years, the ‘does my bum look big in this?’ question haunted women and made them feel ashamed/frustrated at their own bodies. Long tops, baggy fabrics and sitting down shots were the order of the day for these women who thought themselves undesirable in a society where thin was in. Storing fat around your thighs and bum is healthier than keeping it on your stomach so scientifically, a big bum can be an indicator of well being. In addition, celebrating body diversity makes my heart sing. It’s about bloody time that we did away with the homogeneous notions of beauty and recognised the fact that a multitude of shapes can be sexy and lusted after. Just like some girls go crazy over Gosling, there are just as many who scratch their heads and say ‘whaaa?’ thus cementing the idea that what is attractive is not fixed; we have the autonomy and freedom to create our own preferences and the big bum falls nicely into this remit. Some boys are in a maze by it, googling images of Iggy Azalea in a bikini, whilst others might be fan girling over Kiera Knightley and her slender frame. All good news as it means we are celebrating and championing differences.
On the other hand, however we could link this trend to a more damaging concept of masculine dominance and sexual assertiveness. Lyrics from Akon, Big Sean and Drake such as ‘bend you over and smack that,’ ‘bounce that ass, it’s the roundest, you gonna get some dick today,’ and ‘you a fine motherfucker won’t you back that ass up’ all encourage the objectification of women and the idea that their bodies are commoditities to be weighed up and valued. Sex is described as violent, aggressive and for the pleasure of the man. Girls pushing their bums out, mirror shots with bodies angled and contorted into odd shapes to get the best bum shot, Rihanna posing naked in an uncomfortable stance (I tried it out, it hurts after about five seconds to hold in that position) and for what? To look sexually desirable? Fuckable? To make guys write about pushing them face down and smashing into them, thus anihilating the opportunity of face to face contact and rendering the woman as nothing more than a body, a hole, a goal? To make guys fantasise about the ass but not the sass of the girl? It seems to me that this trend for the bum invites worrying questions about sex, relationships and respect. In an increasingly individualised society, characterised by consumption and want, there is a worry that a ‘fat assed girl’ is just another ‘thing’ to add to the list of must haves this season. As disposable as a pair of trainers, with the shelf life of a Five Guys burger.
I love that the trend for big butts has made so many women more confident about their bodies. Fashion has caught on and we have clothes designed to make all shapes feel good. Anything that contributes to the emotional well being on women is a plus in my eyes. I guess my view is that finding a big butt attractive is awesome, as long as you like what is attached to the rest of it and view a woman as more than just what she is packing in a belfie.