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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.

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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.

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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?

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Gaga

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.

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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.

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Someone recently sent me a message about body shaming. Great, I thought! I love hearing other people’s opinions about topics I’m passionate about! However, this person suggested that because I was body confident, it was somehow ‘unfair’ and ‘inappropriate’ for me to talk about body shaming. Now, I’m not a beagle either but I still get angry about animal testing, so the idea that because I have developed a healthy relationship with my body somehow excludes me from entering discourse about the ways in which body shaming is shoved at us from all angles really pisses me off.

I have spoken before about the issues I have had with my body in the past; hospitalised with an eating disorder, lots of self loathing and a masochistic tendency to follow those who hurt my confidence BUT now? Yep. I love my body. I love how it feels, how it can feel. I love its softness, its curves, how it gets me from one place to another. I love the fact that I can decorate it how I want, and how I can push it to its limits. My body is great. So is yours.

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What isn’t great however, is body shaming. This idea that somehow our bodies need work, improving, and that unless we look a certain way, the way we do look is wrong. Magazines are rife with articles at the moment about ‘bikini bodies,’ with diet tips, advice on how to ‘look good on the beach’ this summer and suggestions of products to ‘fix’ the issues we have. Products to ‘instantly slim’ or ‘contour,’ ‘highlight,’ ‘cover up’ or ‘hide.’ It’s a whole bullshit bag of bad vibes that we are hitting ourselves with everytime we buy a copy or click on a link.

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It isn’t just ‘fat shaming’ that’s prevalent. There seems to be a focus on attacking slim women as well; turning on each other. ‘Real men like curves’ is a phrase I’ve seen thrown around a lot on-line, single handedly symbolically annihilating a massive percentage of the female population from the possibility of being found attractive by the opposite sex. We seem to find fault with each other much faster than we do with a system that attacks bodies and shames them into feeling inadequate. How can someone with a toned tum feel bad about their thighs? How can someone with big boobs complain about their bum? How can she, with her long hair and big lips possibly feel down about her height etc? It’s as if we have a check list of what’s good and we try and weigh up everyone’s scores against our own.

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It’s insulting actually to assume that men have one type of person they find attractive. To imply that there is a homogeneous version of femininity that they are drawn to. Just like some of my friends don’t understand my passion for Ricki Hall, or me their predilection for Gosling, men have different ideas of what they might want in a bed buddy.  Which is ok, you know? Every lock has a key and all that jazz. We all have different ‘types’ and that’s part of our charm. Some of my best babes hate the idea of kissing a man with a full beard; for me, that’s a requisite. Others like a blonde man with no chest hair whereas I’d be swiping left on that so fast, my phone would probably stall. Why then, do we assume that men can only find one type of beauty beautiful?

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Women do have a much tougher time in the media than men do. Men can change in size and still hold down the best movie roles, still get the girls, still earn the big bucks. Women on the other hand, are expected to be thin at whatever phase of their life they are in; pregnancy, post birth, puberty. If they breathe out for a second and get papped by some low life hiding in a bush, they end up plastered on the front page of a magazine captioned with some bullshit about ‘letting themselves go,’ ‘possible pregnancy bump?!’ ‘eating for two!’ or ‘sod the diet!’ All dressed up with exclamation marks and faux support – ‘just like us!!!’ as if somehow, laying into a woman about her body is fair game. As if there is a ‘normal’ body size to be and inviting us to pass judgement. It’s just hideously sad that some women spend so much of their time thinking about the circumference of their thighs or worrying about how they look in a bikini – driven in part by magazines and media outlets that peddle body shaming on a daily basis. We are encouraged to be blown away by a model’s lean, lithe frame or laugh at a celebs ‘food baby.’  We have whole blogs dedicated to the best boobs, the best butts on instagram. It invites competition and self deprecation, self harm and loathing when we don’t see ourselves as measuring up to the ideal.

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I don’t get how our bodies became synonymous with our successes, our achievements? Why every magazine I pick up has more space dedicated to changing your face, your style and your hair than it does to any life issues or advice on how to get ahead in the work place. Cellulite does not render a woman incapable of running a business. Chubby knees are not a hindrance when it comes to passing a degree and yet you’d be forgiven for thinking that only size 0 women, with long blonde locks and a D cup can get anywhere in life. I hate body shaming, and will continue to do so even if I like myself in a two piece. Hope that is ok with you.

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I love this video so, so much. It is frustrating that it took subverting traditional sexism and making it accessible to get sexism noticed but it’s brilliant. It’s clever, funny and really hits home the subtle, and brick to the face blindingly obvious, ways that women are hit by sexism.

When I showed it to some male friends, they didn’t believe that women are subject to the sexism depicted in the video but the sad fact is, that ALL of the situations were re-enactments of scenarios sent in to everyday sexism. I think it’s great that we are challenging people’s ideas of what is acceptable behaviour; a woman asking a man for casual sex or to take off his clothes is laughably ludicrous, as highlighted by the reactions in the clip, but yet this happens all the time in bars up and down the country to women. Asking for a female shop assistant? Crazy and yet we see it happening the other way around. I have been in a computer store where I was purchasing a laptop, WITH MY OWN MONEY and yet the sales guy didn’t even look at me. Point blank ignored everything I said or asked. I’ve also had builders come round to my house, see I’m in alone and suggest coming back ‘when the old man is in.’ As if, somehow, my vagina renders me incapable of explaining what needs fixing.

I forgot that when they handed out breasts, they also gave us a lobotomy, ensuring that we would never be able to take part in a discussion about sport, DIY or technology. Rolling eyes.

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