Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dear Vogue: My Big Booty is not a Trend

The butt has been enjoying some pretty serious time in the spotlight. Booty shapers cannot stay on the shelves, Brazilian butt lift is being taught in gyms, and butt implants are no longer taboo.

It's even received its own Vogue article by Patricia Garcia "The Dawn of the Butt", which has caused some major issues between communities of color and the publication. ( side note: if you want a good laugh, go on Twitter and type in #voguearticles...amazing.) 

But even before that, CNN correspondent Dr. Anthony Youn stated back in February of 2013 that "Kim Kardashian is still the poster child for a large and shapely backside.

To begin; I appreciate what this could do for body image. Let's be real for a moment; Vogue magazine isn't exactly the bastion publication for positive body image. Month after month, page after page, we are bombarded with what is supposed to be the ideal shape of a woman, which very often doesn't include any curves except (maybe) a smile. She's tall, long armed and legged, and very (very) thin, with no ass-ests to mention. 

Then I experience a major disconnect between what "popular" culture shows me as ideal, and what my own culture says. I return to hear from my own community the appreciation for curves, big butts especially. I mean how many songs were out about twerking before Miley Cyrus attempted to gyrate her lack of derrière on a married man (another story for another day)? 

And if you grab any (and especially) Hip Hop Mags like The Source or King, you will be bombarded by big booty beauties. I'm not saying it's right. I'm saying it's simply not as new as more mainstream mags are treating it.

The fact that a magazine of its stature is proclaiming something very contrary to what the cultural norm has been is huge. 

But what bothers me is not the focus on the particular body part, but how it was even placed into the spotlight to begin with. Garcia ends her article by saying "Which brings us full circle to J. Lo—the original trailblazing butt girl—and the imminent video for “Booty,”...It features the 45-year-old doused in what looks like Vaseline or honey, prompting listeners to “Throw up your hands if you love a big booty.” It’s safe to say that, this time around, the world is thoroughly ready for the jelly. " 

JLo? The "original trailblazing butt girl"? What? 

Ok, so to be 45 and look like that is a feat that should be praised, but there were plenty of big booty babes long before her. Saying that JLo is the original booty anything is like saying Queen's "Fat Bottom Girls" was the first song written about big booties. It's just incorrect.

Curve queens Beyonce (Umm hello, she sang Bootylicious) and Nicki Minaj (who at this point has shown everyone her ass) aren't even mentioned until towards the end of the article. 
And who NEVER got mentioned, with a butt that could put all above to shame, was the perfect posterior of tennis champion Serena Williams. 

Have you seen this thing? 
It's got it's own gravitational pull (ask any straight African American man about that.)

I ask you: what does Iggy, Jen, or JLo have on Serena Williams? I mean come on, if you're going to proclaim it as the year of the booty, get a REAL booty to officially inaugurate it. 
What also bothers me is that this whole popularization of the fanny could be send as a trend. It is Vogue's job to report to the masses what is up and coming, to be the cutting edge of style and fashion. By proclaiming it the year of the booty, it could be observed as a passing fad that will eventually go out of style in time rather than a rallying call for positive body image. 

But how can a body part be treated as a fashion trend? Maybe rather than treating it like the it shoes or the hot new bag, we should instead embrace who we are and love our bodies. 

For years, black girls were told that big butts were unsightly on one end, but on the other end there were entire albums throughout the decades dedicated to the derrière (and the ability to rhythmically bounce it). Now all of the sudden, because of Kim K and an Iggy song, it's the year of the booty?

I'm just going to go ahead and say it so we can all move on from here: BIG BUTTS WERE GREAT LONG BEFORE WHITE PEOPLE DECIDED THEY WERE. And just because popular culture has decided they are ok really doesn't affect how we currently feel about our booties. Booties will be great long after the fad of them wears off in popular culture. Before Kim K or Iggy made everyone comfortable with the idea of the big butt, they were more than ok in the black community and they will continue to be. As far as many are concerned, every year could be the year of the booty.

Butts have been have been big for years. Curvy girls have been owning it for longer than these popular yet somewhat pretentious publications have even been around. 

All this very late and quite silly proclaimation shows is that Vogue simply hasn't been paying attention.