It has been 20 years since Sir Mix-A-Lot enthusiastically proclaimed in his hit Baby Got Back “I like big butts and I cannot lie”. All this time later, this same sentiment has been amplified ten fold. In the last two decades we have seen the meteoric rise of Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, and of course Kim Kardashian.
These women reject the accepted social ideal that a woman should be a toothpick with head. Regardless of whether or not you agree with how some or all of these women did it, they have a powerful influence. Particularly in western culture, that has been a look that has been epitomized. There is an emphasis, subliminal or conscious, on being thin. In our American society that is what is considered sexy and therefore desirable or the norm.
When a female celebrity loses 20 pounds when she is already a normal weight she is praised for looking more amazing than she did before. God forbid she gains the weight back, she is then ostracized for being ‘too fat’. Seeing this in the media, it creates the idea that, for us mere human women, looking like a 100-pound model is normal for everyone. This simply isn’t true, and this thought process is poisoning the minds of young girls growing up today.
Ironically enough, I was born the year ‘Baby Got Back’ was released and I grew up to have a body similar to that of the aforementioned ‘bootylicious’ women. I grew up with Jennifer Lopez and Beyoncé. They are my heroes that’s because they embrace their bodies and flaunt them proudly. They even come up with catchy little lexicons we still use today, like Beyonces’ bootylicious from her Destiny’s Child days.
We all remember that hook, “I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly; my body’s to bootylicious ya a babe.” Beyonce and J.Lo are role models because they challenge the stereotype that “Thin is in”.
Being a girl of mixed race who grew up in a white neighborhood, when adolescence rolled around I knew my body was a little different than those of my friends. To be blunt, I was aware that I did not look like my peers who were petite and had no ass! I am still acutely aware when my friends try to lend me their size 4 jeans, so it is always funny when I show them by trying the jeans on.
This difference always made me self-conscious about my body and to this day my self-image is a little askew. Sometimes I think my life would be easier if I didn’t have this asset. I wouldn’t have to tailor as many clothes and I could shop at more stores. I also thought the type of attention I garnered from the opposite sex would be different. Women with curves, especially those of color, are seen to be exotic and therefore ‘sex-ified’. Case and point Kim Kardashian.
I thought less creeps would hit on me, but when I got to college I realized that girls of all colors and shapes are hit on my plenty of creeps, so I felt better. My favorite is when I meet guys on any given Sunday. It is usually one of the first things that I get comments on. Usually it is as a joke but it is still awkward nonetheless. It is like saying to a girl with D-Cups, “Hey nice boobs”. Might seem like a compliment but it is still objectifying!
This one time I met a guy friend’s brother and upon meeting me he commented about my figure to his brother by singing “Cake, Cake, Cake”, like Rihanna’s song Birthday Cake. True story. And for those of you who are not familiar with the phrase, “cake” is the newest euphemism for ass.
Body image is a lifelong struggle for all women. From teenage girls to some seventy-year-old women. How much you weigh and how you look is made to be of pivotal importance in our lives. Media makes it seem as if having a body like a Victoria Secret model is the definition of beauty. So for all the girls like J.Lo, Beyonce, and myself, in the immortal words of Sir Mix A Lot, “So Cosmo says you're fat. Well I ain't down with that! 'Cause your waist is small and your curves are kickin' And I'm thinkin' bout stickin'.
Arianna Wright | Elite.
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