When I was young, the puberty gods blessed me with assets and I had no idea how to handle them. I had long legs I didn’t know how to flaunt and titties I would hide. I’ve since learned the power of my length and how good it feels to show off my titties (#freethenipple). I have a snatched waist and hips that ultimately make it hard to shop for the right jeans. Yet, one “asset” I was missing, according to society, was a donk.
Now here’s the thing: it never bothered me until it became a cultural standard. Back in the early 2000s, big titties were in and I was apparently in luck. But because of my self-consciousness and because I didn’t really own myself I kinda missed my chance there. In the early 90s, the boxy, skinny type with A-cup boobs were in — and then with the wave of J-Lo, the Kardashians, Jen Settler and the #belfies (butt selfies), the slow but steady trend of having the most perfect hourglass figure came in. It’s important to note that in all of my references, I mentioned mostly white women. That is because historically, as Black women, we have been gawked at and oversexualized for our assets. In the 19th century, a South African Khoikhoi woman named Sarah Baartman was paraded in freak shows in Europe because of her big buttocks. Fast forward to the 21st century and white women want the ass they made fun of before.
As Black women, we have always been gawked at and oversexualized for our assets.
Out of my entire family, I got my mom’s amazing figure which came with a cute, little, round booty. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my butt. I love my tiger stripes and how it shapes my figure. It’s helped me slide through teammates in volleyball and given me the ultimate confidence in bikini pictures. And still, I can’t help but compare myself to #ThiccNation. But that’s the thing: #LilBootieGang and #ThiccNation have been continuously pitted against each other in media and that frustrates me. Why can’t society let us enjoy our butt in the size that it wants to be?
The obsession of having a big ass all lies in the male gaze which created our patriarchal beauty standards. The common assumption is that men find bigger butts attractive because size correlates with performative expectations during intercourse — meaning a bigger ass heightens your sex appeal because you’re perceived as a better fuck/high performing/etc. According to Dr. Jeremy E. Sherman in What’s With Us and Butts?, to men, “[butts] … make women most like objects, the anatomy furthest from a woman’s humanhood, the part that make women most like toys.” He suggests that because men seek women as toys rather than companions, the end goal of obtaining ass simultaneously adds to the men’s own sense of masculinity. Furthermore, scientists at Bilkent University studied 300 men and their preferences for butts and concluded that the attraction developed from evolutionary preference: the curvier the spine on a woman, the more it related to her higher chances of pregnancy and birth.
As a woman of color, particularly a Black woman, there is an assumed correlation to your femininity and the size of your butt. In many cultures, having a big ass is a blessing (that can also be a curse). You’re seen as more feminine and desirable but you also attain unsolicited attention from men and might only have your worth attached to this asset.
As women, we have been overly accustomed to being sold body improvement tactics since the beginning of marketing. In Mad Men, for example we see how men in media can control the narrative of how women should be presenting themselves from types of lipsticks to wear, what perfumes are best for their husbands and what underwear is the most flattering. These days, with the increased wave of the #fitspo content on social media about increasing your butt size, it seems that whenever I scroll there’s a new “20 squats per day challenge” to get a bubble butt like Ashley Jordan. It’s a facade; the trend of just lower body workouts for 3 months won’t necessarily change your figure. It’s a combination of overall fitness, eating habits, genetics, and ultimate patience.
I created #LittleBootieGang to start this conversation. On Instagram, you can see women posting and engaging with the hashtag #littlebootiesmatter to show their representation and love for their bodies. The #thicc hashtag is used more for women to feel proud of bodies that have been historically shamed in society and media but are taking ownership of their beauty.
While exploring this topic of the #LittleBootieGang, I did a poll that brought up some interesting outcomes and experiences. Out of 218 people who took the poll, 61% said they would “like a little more booty” and 56% said that society’s obsession over big butts made them feel self-conscious. Ultimately, the #LittleBootieGang wants a healthy, real representation of all booties. Here are some of my favorite tidbits from the women in my DMs:
- “…I’m just happy I have grown to a place of confidence in myself that doesn’t mind the little booty [and] accepts it’ll never be a big booty with a tiny waist…. I refuse to let any ‘2 year transformation’ or misguided motivation post be a detriment to my self-image”
- “Honestly I just believe women should love their bodies but if they also want to change it they should have the autonomy to”
- “Soo I don’t have no damn hips or ass. Then being Latina I don’t have the hips and curves so it makes me feel insecure and not ‘Latina’ enough…”
- “I know I’ll never get that induction to #THICCNATION simply because it’s not in my genetics for it to be as easily achieved as others. But I know I have other assets that I can work on and love”
The biggest theme that came up throughout our conversations and my research is that we all know that beauty trends die and new ones rise. We’re totally aware of how society shapes our thinking and how we consistently perpetuate those thoughts in our actions, words, and posts — but we are still caught up in the middle of it because of the availability of social media.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what booty you have; your body is worthy of love.
Personally, this is exceptionally important for Black women as our butts have historically been used to hyper-sexualize and dehumanize us. And now big booties have become a trend that is readily available for everyone. A wonderful reminder is to love a body that ultimately makes YOU feel confident and sexy. And though that is easier said than done, remember that your body’s unique vessel and shape is one in a million.
Alright #LittleBootieGang, let me see you work what ya mama gave ya. Share your pics on social media, and make sure to use the hashtag #littlebootiegang for Salty to see and repost.
Bridget Kyeremateng is a New York City-based intersectional feminist who is a content creator, writer and advocate for social justice issues. Her work has been featured on Driven Society, Cachet Digital, Vinyl Crown and more. Bridget received her degrees in Black Studies and Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara and continues to write pieces that intersect identities of race, sex, gender and politics. She is extremely passionate about music and the arts and continues to break barriers in spaces of theater. Bridget is a big advocate for undocumented folk, spatial politics and body positivity. You can find more of her work on her website (bridgekyere.com) or her IG @iambridgeet.