Thursday, March 3, 2011

We like big butts, and we cannot lie

"When a girl walks in with an itty-bitty waist
and a big thing in your face, you get sprung!"
Jennifer Lopez hit rock bottom, and then she rocked it some more.
    (march 3, 2015) Bounteous butts have become the cool new thing in physical attributes in the 23 years since Sir Mix-a-Lot's irresistibly funny, vulgar song -- "Baby Got Back" -- was released. It is quite a turnaround. As recently as a few years ago, a great big ass was viewed as an embarrassment, a sign of low class & laziness, a trigger for snickering and ridicule. Whole exercise programs were dedicated to flattening your posterior into a cute, modest little derriere. Today's exercise programs are devoted to building up that behind into a vast mound of fertile sexuality. If you don't want to work out, just get butt implants, or buy undergarments with soft, proudly protruding, built-in buttocks. There are even "magic creams" that do the job.
    It seems that J Lo started this mass stampede toward robust rumps, although they have been highly prized in the black community pretty much forever.
    J Lo was getting so much attention for her bum that Beyonce recently got jealous and had some nice blossomy implants inserted. That pissed off J Lo, who promptly got even bigger ones for herself.
    And thus began the "arms race" for butts. To what lengths will people go? I guess I shouldn't even use the word "length." That's a whole different subject, and one of my least-favorite.

"You know I won't be no stick-figure, silicone Barbie doll"
Meghan Trainor: "Boys like a little more booty they can hold at night."

    The latest tribute to "junk in your trunk" is the wildly popular bubble-gum/blues song "All about That Bass," by Meghan Trainor. Her 2015 single was nominated for the Grammy Award's record of the year and song of the year. It topped the singles charts in over 50 countries and sold over 6 million copies worldwide. Vogue Magazine recognized it as part of "the era of the big booty." I didn't realize it had reached the status of an era, but proud lyrics like Trainor's will surely keep things headed in that direction:

Yeah it's pretty clear, I ain't no size two
But I can shake it, shake it like I'm supposed to do
'Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
All the right junk in all the right places

J Lo's butt packed it in nicely even before she began augmenting it.

Beyonce wasn't satisfied with beauty, talent, grace and a decent behind.

Nicki Minage, left, is going to asinine extremes.
Brazil's annual butt competition winner, Dai Macedo.

    Big butts have historically been seen from the evolutionary biologist's perspective, which held that -- along with full lips and large breasts -- they were thought to convey health and fertility. Judging from photos of African women, who are often shown performing energetic "bon-bon" dances, there is a genetic component to having stunningly majestic buns, sometimes referred to as "bootie cakes."   
    This genetic component is defined in The Merriam-Webster dictionary as steatopygia: “an excessive development of fat on the buttocks that occurs chiefly among women of some African peoples and especially the Khoisan.” 
    There are numerous theories about why this trait evolved. They include: 1. Helping to carry children 2. Being a fat reserve during times of famine 3. Being an adaptive physiological feature for female humans living in hot environments because maximizes their bodies' surface-area/volume ratio but keeps enough fat to produce hormones needed for menstruation.

 Ladies from the Yoruba tribe are said to have the biggest in Africa, but I'm sure we'll catch up.
    Maybe our current interest in big rear ends is yet another manifestation of Caucasians appropriation of black music, slang, dress, attitude and culture in general. Why do we do it, instead of making up our own? Because we're lazy, and they're awesome.  
    Earlier Western culture (before black became cool) deviated from the "rumpus room" aesthetic, turning slenderness, and tender slim hips, into a fetish. For a while, in the late 1800s, there was an exception: Women wore big undergarments called bustles, which stuck their butts out quite comically by today's standards. The original excuse was that the bustle kept the dress's hem from dragging along the floor. Later, style-setters noted that the protrusion provided a nice counterpoint to the bulging bosom in front. Plus: they made your waist look tiny. Even so, women gladly tossed them out the door after about 20 years of discomfort. Their men were not amused.
Does this hat make me look fat?

    Currently, the lust for inflated buttocks has most certainly been fueled by pornography and by the concomitant normalization of anal sex (barf). But big butts, like fashion and aesthetics generally, have generated a contagion effect. Women get accustomed to seeing them on celebrities, and gradually their own tastes change. Those curvy, rotund protuberances start looking beautiful and sexy.
     The comic one-liner that served us well for so many generations is no longer "Do you have a mouse in your pocket?" but rather, "Do you have balloons in your underpants?

Kim Kardashian is perfectly happy to be famous for anything, including her bum.

    Breast implants are still the most popular cosmetic surgery procedure, but butts are making their way up the food chain, so to speak, increasing nearly 50 percent in the past decade. Those who already have big butts, but they're saggy, baggy old things, can have the flesh yanked up and tacked surgically for a jaunty uprising.Or you can get a Brazilian butt lift, which involves injecting a hydrogel solution or harvesting the body's own excess fat via liposuction and directing it into the buttocks. Those who have been blessed or cursed with delicate little posteriors can consider implants, which typically cost between $5,000 and $10,000. These are relatively small, and don't provide the overall fullness that many women believe is necessary for a natural look. Moreover, they are so solid (perhaps to avoid exploding when you sit down), they may inspire a whole new raft of knock-knock jokes.
Unlike breast implants, butt augmentation products are "semi solid" to the touch.

Implants are clearly visible despite an added fat graft.
    As you can imagine, stories about butt implants gone bad are as common as those about lumpy, misshapen, infected, collapsed breast implants. You can readily find the pictures on Google Images, if you're interested, or just take my word for it: they're scary and grotesque.
    Why not just do some squats and brisk walking to build up your heinie, instead of subjecting yourself to these perverse assaults? My gluteus maximus is getting maximized quite robustly from my workouts, and I didn't even want it to. "Flat ass" has always been one of my treasured nicknames! Please don't call me "Bootylicious"!

     Gloriously huge hindquarters seem to work well for baboons, and they are dear creatures whom we should not be ashamed to imitate. They are, after all, practically our kissing cousins in the Earthly gene pool. 

Maintaining a modest facial expression adds to the allure.

    I like big butts, and I cannot lie, although I neither have (barely) nor want one for myself. They're for another generation, one that thinks if you walk out of a room without knocking over a few pieces of furniture, you're not swinging that awesome accessory with enough sass. A majestic ass can be pleasing to the eye, if it's not overtly exhibitionistic and totally out of proportion.

    In Sir Mix-a-Lot's song, "Baby Got Back" -- which acquired iconic (Wikipedia refers to it as "anthemic") status despite its raunch and roughness --  he mixes awe, affection and respect with pure, grunting, salivating lust in his ode to big butts ( He declares that "I ain't down with that" when magazines such as Cosmo push women to be skinny, and which glorify "beanpole dames." This perspective was very progressive when his song was released 23 years ago. (It was the second-best selling song of the year, after Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You." We do have versatile tastes, don't we?) In 2008, it was ranked number 17 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop. 

    Just last summer, the Seattle Symphony created quite a stir (delight and dismay), when it invited Sir Mix-a-Lot to perform his graphic song during one of its concerts. Ladies from the audience flooded the staid stage to dance along.
The schoolmarmish lady in the black dress became a viral sensation with her uninhibited "shake your booty" antics.

    In his 1992 song, the singer/songwriter promises to treat you like a lady while "doing it 'till the break of dawn," and he ridicules the deflated little bums that were being emphasized on Jane Fonda workout tapes. He denigrates implants ("those silicone parts were made for toys"), disdains "hos" (expressing a preference for dignified, classy women like Flo Jo) and promises to swoop in to complete the job when some jerk has used  you and left you unsatisfied. Big butts, he says, are healthy, thick and "juicy." I would prefer to be juicy, if at all, in other ways. My brain is pretty juicy. I think I'll go with that.
   According to Wikipedia, Spoken word duo Athens Boys Choir has a parody of the song on their album Rhapsody in T called "Tranny Got Pack" The original song was spoofed in an episode of In Living Color as "Baby Got Snacks," featuring Jamie Foxx as the lead vocalist, "Trail-Mix-a-Lot". In 2008, the movie Another Cinderella Story used a parody of the song, entitled "Baby Got Bacne." There was also a controversial 2009 Burger King commercial promoting SpongeBob SquarePants Kids' Meal toys, which used a parody called "I Like Square Butts". It was also parodied on the "Buoyancy" episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy with "Bill's Got Boat". Two parodies were performed by Sir Mix-a-Lot himself: "Baby Likes Fat", heard in The Simpsons episode "Treehouse of Horror XVII"; and "Table Be Round", from the Robot Chicken episode "Chirlaxx".

Beauty lies in the beholden. Thank you, dear doctor.
    I prefer to reserve my bum for sitting (and dancing in a locked room), but for those who like to use them for display purposes, there is a whole, budding culture that seems thrilled to back them up. The "booty call" is here to stay, at least until the newest new thing comes along.