Are Butts the New Boobs?
WHAT YOU’RE DYING TO KNOW ABOUT
When it comes to the female form, breasts
have long inspired fixation. But attention
is shifting down…to the derriere. See what’s
behind this new body part preoccupation.
COSMOPOLITAN AUGUST 2006
By Michelle Stacey
(from top) Sands/bauergriffin.com; Henry Lamb/Photowire/BEImages; Lawrence Lucier/FilmMagic.
After years of living on the treadmill
and devoutly following the South Beach
diet in an attempt to shrink our behinds,
there are indications that the tyranny of
the tiny tush—which so few women
naturally have—may finally be ending.
The New Age–girl butt is not necessarily a huge one, but it’s definitely an unashamedly shapely thing.
The most extreme sign of change
comes, as it often does these days, from
the operating room: One of the fastestgrowing plastic surgeries in this country
is buttock augmentation. The number
of procedures has increased fourfold
since 2002, according to the American
Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
What’s making some women go so far
for what Missy Elliott calls a badunkadunk…and prompting many others to
play up their rears with whatever tools
are at hand (think tight jeans and more
squats at the gym)? You could blame the
much-vaunted “J.Lo effect” perhaps,
but there’s so much more.
There are the songs, such as the hiphop ass anthems that started with Sir
Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” and progressed to Sisqó’s “Thong Song” (“Baby,
move your butt / She had dumps like a
truck”) and most recently, the BlackEyed Peas’ “My Humps.” There are the
women in recent ads from Dove and
Nike proudly celebrating their “real
curves” and saying things like “My butt
is big” and “I have thunder thighs.”
There’s the indelible image of Jessica
Simpson thrusting out her (hard won)
Daisy Dukes–clad derriere in last sum-
There’s been a boom in butt
SOURCE: AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR
AESTHETIC PLASTIC SURGERY
mer’s movie ads (reportedly requiring
grueling daily workouts, including cardio, weights, lunges, and squats).
Is all this butt-flaunting really a sign of
greater acceptance of a woman’s natural
curves…or just another way to worry
that your tush isn’t perfect enough?
The list of famous chicks known for their
generous behinds is getting longer every
day. There are actresses and singers like
Beyoncé Knowles, Scarlett Johansson,
Salma Hayek, Kelly Clarkson, Mandy
Moore, and all those girls wiggling their
butts in hip-hop videos.
The fashion world is playing along too.
Mannequins have sprouted bigger butts.
There’s even a Biniki being marketed
that is literally a push-up bra for your
butt. Its makers claim that it “holds up
the weight of the buttocks, lifts and defines the buttocks’ curvature, and maximizes small/flat derrieres.” Plain ol’
thongs, it seems, are so 2005.
Some of this may be rubbing off on
the next generation of girls, who are
now teenagers maturing into womanly
figures. You’ll still hear some girls complain about being bottom-heavy, but on
teen chat sites like gurl.com, the laments about being embarrassed about
having a huge butt are outnumbered by
celebratory comments. “I realize I was
blessed with a big butt for more than
one reason…and there is no way I
would ever want to change it,” one girl
writes. “I mean, little butts do not have
a song written about them.”
So what’s driving this new pride in
having a junk-filled trunk? Part of it
may flow from a broader idea of
beauty—a “more cross-cultural aesthetic,” according to Virginia Blum,
PhD, a professor of English at the University of Kentucky and author of Flesh
Wounds: The Culture of Cosmetic
Surgery. “Among models, movie stars,
and musicians on MTV, there’s more of
an international look and much less of
the blond, blue-eyed gentile aesthetic”
of the past, Blum says.
Only a woman
with mega booty
dare wear white.
“I’ve got a butt,
and I want to
keep it,” Ms.
Carey has said.
Her athletic but
cuts a stunning
WHAT YOU’RE DYING TO KNOW ABOUT
Stone Age (24,000 B.C.)
butts of all time—
check out the
Venus of Willendorf
Peter Paul Rubens’
paintings celebrate the
nude zaftig woman.
Hoop skirts make
even Scarlett O’Hara
a girl’s assets.
THE HISTORIC REAR VIEW
But other reasons for the current butt
fixation may tap into humankind’s deepest desires…and may not be new at all.
Anthropologists agree that once upon
a very long time, humans mated the way
all other mammals still do—from the
rear. So a woman’s behind was and still
is a prime attractor. “The buttocks are
what psychologists call sign stimuli,”
says David Holmes, PhD, a senior
lecturer in psychology at Manchester
Metropolitan University in England.
“This means the sight of attractive buttocks elicits a behavioral response in
males: sexual arousal.”
The sexiest females in prehistoric
times, writes famed zoologist Desmond
Morris, PhD, in The Naked Woman,
were the ones with the largest buttocks—the biggest “sign.” Eventually,
humans came to practice face-to-face,
missionary-style intercourse more
often, perhaps in order to bond emotionally and maybe also, Morris speculates, because the prehistoric tush got
so big that sex actually became difficult
to accomplish from behind. At that
point, Morris says, our modern fascination with large breasts began—their
shape mimics that rounded pair on the
other side, which still, deep in a guy’s
caveman-era cortex, spells s-e-x.
So why might the buns now suddenly
be giving big boobs a run for the
money? Holmes’ answer: Blame fake
boobs. Breast implants, he feels, have
altered the natural breast shape that
men find attractive at a deep, pre-evolutionary level. And, he says, we’ve just
seen boobs so much—hanging out of
tiny triangle-top bikinis and bouncing
up and down in music videos—that
they’ve lost their special allure. Both of
these elements have “pushed men’s
eyes back to the original breast, the
bum,” he says. Also, he adds, “the bum
has more intrigue now because it has
been hidden far more during the breast
Spas are increasingly offering pampering treatments
for your patootie. Check out
this cross-country sampling.
AJUNE SPA, New York: The
Bikini Bottom Beautiful
Treatment, 60 minutes, $150.
Basic bikini wax followed by
microdermabrasion to exfoliate. “Bio Glove” treatment using
try Mark. microcurrents to tighten the
Butt Fixing backside and a body spray tan.
EXTRADOS SPA, Minneapolis: The
Fanny Facial, 45 minutes, $60.
A pressure-point massage of the
glutes and lower back, then a facial
back there: cleansing, extraction
of any blemishes, and hydration/
HONEY CHILD SALON AND SPA,
Chicago: Honey Buns, 30 minutes,
$65. Waxing if necessary, an
exfoliating scrub, a honey-infused
mask, citrus-honey oil massage,
and a warm citrus-paraffin treatment to seal in moisture.
while flapper styles
cover them up).
Pinup girl Betty Grable’s shapely behind
gives WW II troops something to live for.
COSMOPOLITAN AUGUST 2006
in the film
(to say the
KC and the
(Great Moments in Heinie History, from top left) Ali Meyer/Corbis; Bettmann/Corbis; Pictorial Press/Alamy; Bettmann/Corbis; Photofest; Bettmann/Corbis; Warner Home
Video; Mark Allan/Alpha/Globe Photos; Everett Collection; Dave Hogan/Getty; Coco/flynetpictures.com. (Fanny facial) DAVID TURNER/HDPS. (illustrations) BRUCE MORSER.
FIND YOUR BUTT SHAPE
Constantino Mendieta, a plastic surgeon based in Miami, Florida, who
has performed many buttock augmentations, has divided the world of
girl butts into four basic shapes. He feels that the A—an “upside-down
heart”—is the prettiest. We say to each her own.
boom.” Holmes feels that butt intrigue
is here to stay. After all, he says, “it was
a sexual sign stimuli for thousands of
years more than breasts were.”
I’LL TAKE THE J.LO,
Holmes might be right, unless cosmetic
surgery wreaks havoc on the natural
appeal of butts the way he feels it has on
breasts. Buttocks, however, turn out to
be much more difficult to operate on
than breasts or any other body part, for
obvious reasons. What other surgical
enhancement do you sit on?
Implants can be uncomfortable and
sometimes end up looking misshapen,
and incisions can break open and become infected, says Thomas L. Roberts
III, a plastic surgeon in Spartanburg,
South Carolina, who has performed
more than 300 buttock augmentations.
A newer method, in which fat is lipo’d
out of the stomach, lower back, and
hips and injected drop by drop into the
Sir Mix-aLot, hits
the air (“I
buttocks, has a better track record.
“Patients bring in magazine photos of
people like Jennifer Lopez or Serena
Williams and say ‘I want one like this,’”
says Dr. Roberts.
That said, any kind of buttock surgery
is a pain in the you-know-what. You cannot sit down or lie on your back for at
least two weeks, so you have to kneel or
stand to do anything. Also, because it is
a long, painstaking surgery (between
four and eight hours, while breast implants typically take 45 minutes), surgical costs are high—in the range of
$17,000 to $23,000.
“Instead, it becomes something else to
desire, to fixate on, to compare and
evaluate. After all, it’s not just any old big
butt—it has to be toned, no cellulite; it’s
got to have a certain contour. It’s a new
If you’re wondering what guys are
thinking about butts, Mac, 21*, sums it
up pretty well: “Butts are good almost
any way they come,” he says. Dean, 21,
says he loves “a booty that’s softer and
more girlie. I like women that have real
bodies that I can cuddle up with.” Jay,
28, says, “I really like a butt with a little
oomph.” You get the idea: It’s pretty
much all good. Yours included.
*Names have been changed.
HEADED FOR A BUTT
Considering the pain, costs, and risks,
America might not be ready for such a
perfectionist approach to the butt.
“The fact that big butts are now more
‘in’ in our popular culture images is not
really liberating women to celebrate the
diversity of their bodies,” says Blum.
Child, is an
for this jelly.”
surgery is featured
on the reality TV
show Dr. 90210.
not a cute look
Madge’s butt go?
that lift and
(A, B, and C)
that are like
cup sizes for