Why It’s ‘All About That Bass’: Glute Obsessed Culture

The hourglass physique has been popular throughout history from the wasp-waisted Victorian lady to the 1950s housewife. Its modern silhouette, however, holds a specific attraction. In September 2014, Vogue declared ‘We’re Officially in the Era of the Big Booty’[1] as Jennifer Lopez was joined in the derriere hall of fame by a multitude of celebrities and fitness models. The squat is the new crunch and, in a departure from tradition, Sports Illustrated’s 50th anniversary edition depicted models Nina Agdal, Lily Aldridge and Chrissy Teigen in a pose that showcased their behinds.[2]


With the return of the hourglass figure, it’s ‘All About That Bass’, as confirmed by Meghan Trainor’s chart topping single. The buttocks have become the recent focus of a body-obsessed media, endorsed by celebrities such as Nicki Minaj and Kim Kardashian West. In July 2014, Minaj released ‘Anaconda,’ her ode to the derriere, whose shocking cover art presented her famous posterior, clad in the most minimal of bikini bottoms. The single’s raunchy video generated 19.6 million views in the first 24 hours of its release.



The music industry has recently produced a multitude of songs that pay homage to the behind. Nicki Minaj appears once again in Busta Rhymes’ ‘#TWERKIT’ (2013); while ‘Booty’ by the original booty queen, Jennifer Lopez, features the curvaceous Iggy Azeala (2014). Most famous however, is ‘All About That Bass’ (2014), in which Meghan Trainor claims that she is ‘bringing booty back’ and has ‘all the right junk in all the right places.’ In 2014, the single was the UK’s longest running chart topper, selling over 6 million copies worldwide.[3] Despite its popularity, however, the song was accused of anti-feminism. This was owing to lyrics suggesting that the ‘booty’s appeal lies in its ability to attract male attention. Despite Trainor’s protestations that her aim was to promote body-confidence, the single came under attack for thin shaming. This was owing to its reference to ‘skinny bitches’, and the singer’s claim that she ‘won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll.’



J Lo and Trainor may sing about their ‘bootys’, yet the current queen of all things curvaceous is Kim Kardashian West, with her voluptuous assets contributing to her £43 million worth.[4] In Winter 2014, the reality TV star flaunted her famous behind in an article for New York’s Paper magazine that was captioned ‘Break the Internet.’[5] While Kardashian insists that she has ‘honed her curves with gruelling training sessions’,[6] many famous women, including Heidi Montag and Nicki Minaj, have undergone surgery to enhance their figures. Minaj’s behind has even served as an inspiration to other celebrities, including ‘The Only Way Is Essex’ star, Chloe Sims. According to Reveal magazine Sims ‘went to her doctor and said, “Give me the Nicki Minaj.”’[7] With cosmetic surgery becoming increasingly normalised, the most popular invasive treatment of 2015 is the Brazilian Bum Lift ‘with statistics soaring another 15% this year’.[8] For those looking to create the hourglass figure, it is now possible to combine this treatment with ‘a fat transfer into the breasts’.[9]



This obsession with celebrity backsides is fuelled by visual media. In 2014 Heat magazine posed the question: ‘Oh celebrities, what would we do without your endless stream of selfies?’[10] This was in response to a new trend that emerged within this ostensibly narcissistic world of self-photography: the ‘belfie’ (bum selfie). Allegedly instigated by singer Rihanna, the belfie has now become a social media phenomenon. One of Kim Kardashian West’s voluptuous offerings went viral, with ‘more than 250,000 likes on Instagram after two hours of being posted’.[11] When a celebrity is photographed with anything other than a perfectly sculpted (or posed) derriere, however, horror ensues. Pictures of Miley Cyrus’ less than toned derriere, snapped while she was ‘twerking’, became a media sensation and the subject of anti-motivation memes throughout the internet.

The belfie trend not only pervades the world of celebrity, but is also a dominant aspect of the fitness community. Instagram and Tumblr promote a ‘she squats’ culture where the most revered aspect of a woman’s figure are her lycra-clad buttocks. Some of the most famous glutes within the fitness world are those belonging to Jen Selter, whose Instagram account ‘has accrued upwards of 4.4 million followers thanks to gratuitous selfies featuring the fitness model’s lower half.’[12]



Despite the current trend for curves, however, this fetish for the voluptuous does not extend to plus size women. Curves are socially desirable only if accompanied by low body fat and a tight waist. The ideal shape remains firmly hourglass.

[1] http://www.vogue.com/1342927/booty-in-pop-culture-jennifer-lopez-iggy-azalea/ [accessed 10/02/15]

[2] http://www.mamamia.com.au/wellbeing/sports-illustrated-swimsuit-cover-2014-butts/ [accessed 10/02/15]

[3] Closer magazine, 31st Jan – 6th Feb 2015, Issue 632, ALL ABOUT THAT BASS SONG – interview with Meghan Trainer, written by Deborah Fraser ‘ p.30. The song was number 1 in 58 countries

[4] Closer magazine, 31st Jan – 6th Feb 2015, Issue 632, Sarah Packer, Kim blasts Amber: ‘I’m the booty queen – stop copying my curves!‘ p.12

[5] http://www.papermag.com/2014/11/kim_kardashian.php

[6] Closer magazine, 31st Jan – 6th Feb 2015, Issue 632, Sarah Packer, Kim blasts Amber: ‘I’m the booty queen – stop copying my curves!‘ p.13

[7] http://madamenoire.com/446585/celebs-who-admitted-to-butt-injections/6/ [accessed 29/01/15]

[8] https://comparethetreatment.com/the-uks-top-cosmetic-surgery-trends-for-2015/ [accessed 09/02/15]

[9] https://comparethetreatment.com/the-uks-top-cosmetic-surgery-trends-for-2015/ [accessed 09/02/15]

[10] http://www.heatworld.com/2014/09/naked-celebrity-pictures-bikini-underwear-bums#.VMVJUbZybcs [accessed 25/01/15]

[11] http://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/kim-kardashian-nearly-naked-picture-2461774 [accessed 25/01/15]

[12] http://www.xojane.com/issues/shesquatsbro-and-the-black-booty-paradox [accessed 29/01/15]

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