It is apparent to any observer of current American culture that the booty (bottom, badonkadonk, butt, derriere, be-hind, backside, buttocks, bum, tush, moneymaker, etc.) is an important aspect (ass-pect) of American sexuality and philosophy. If one has any doubts, they must simply type “butt” into Cosmopolitan’s search bar (obviously the most reputable source around) and boom, up come 441 separate articles ranging everywhere from “The 16 Most Bubblelicious Butts on Instagram”, “Exactly How to Contour Your Butt So It Looks Lifted, Toned, and Hot AF” (yes, people are putting makeup on their butts), and “Here’s Nicki Minaj’s Butt on an Oreo” to “The Newest Way to Get a Great Booty Is to Electric Shock Your Butt”. Aside from “journalism”, the subject matter of the bountiful derriere unites musical artists that otherwise occupy very different spheres. What do Queen, Sir Mix-a-Lot, and Megan Trainor have in common? You guessed it: a love for a good backside. This saturation of tush talk in our culture was certainly not brought about by just the Kardashians (“Shake Your Booty” by KC and the Sunshine Band came out in 1976, after all), but, the question remains—why do so many people fixate on the butt? What is it about people’s backsides that brings about so much attention and praise?
According to Alena J. Singleton, author of Cultural History of the Buttocks, “Evolutionary psychologists suggest that rounded buttocks may have evolved as a desirable trait because they provide a visual indication of the woman’s youth and fertility. They signal the presence of estrogen and the presence of sufficient fat stores for pregnancy and lactation”. In other words, if you’re a prehistoric human looking to father some progeny, get you a big bottomed woman. Singleton goes on to mention that a large backside usually comes with larger, wider hips and pelvis, which often aids in the birthing process. Therefore, it is a very prevalent and supported theory that “rounded buttocks” have “evolved as a desirable trait because they provide a visual indication of the woman’s youth and fertility.” If someone catches you admiring a booty when you shouldn’t be, it would only be logical to blame natural selection.
It is no surprise then that the butt as a desirable, erogenous trait has been prevalent in many different cultures since the dawn of humanity. The “Venus of Willendorf” statue, created in 24,000 B.C.E, is depicted with a booty that would make even Jennifer Lopez jealous. Societies everywhere from Ancient Greece and Ancient China to 18th century African culture and Freudian psychologists show signs of butt obsession. However, before modern times, it is my opinion that Victorian England takes the cake in this regard. Alena J. Singleton points out that corsets and other body-squeezing, uncomfortable clothing worn during this era were designed to minimize the waist in an attempt to make the butt look larger. Contraptions like bustles, too, only added to this effect.
In short, our culture’s attraction to buns is neither new nor surprising. So, my friends, embrace it. Play your favorite booty themed song, revel in doing squats at the gym, and remember that it’s human nature. As time-honored poet Tim Wilson once said, “Look at that booty. Show me the booty. Gimme the booty. I want the booty.”