“somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff.” – “Lady in Green” from For Colored Girls, Ntozake Shange
When Jennifer Lopez wore that Donatella Versace palm-print silk chiffon dress to the 2000 Grammy’s Award, the fashion media went nuts. Big butts slowly became less a sight of aesthetic contention. Through much of her career–her movies, music videos, stage performances and red carpets alike, J.Lo continues to be praised for her shapely lines. It ultimately took a Puerto Rican chick from the Bronx to make what Black women have long been berated for fashionable.
The same could be said for the hype around Jennifer Love-Hewitt, and Scarlett Johansson whose pretty-curvy-for-a white-girl bodies earns them the attention of the fashion press making these stars bankable sex objects. And lest we forget Kim Kardashian–the ultimate booty eye-teaser, whose stacked backside nearly rips J.Lo fury.
Should Black women be thankful or mad? I mean, after all, it’s not like sizable posteriors are new to global imagination–not since Sarah “Saartjie” Baartman became an 19th century exhibition for racist, bio-curious scientists and horny European men.
What is really at play when the New York Daily News releases a story branding big butts as the hottest trend of summer 2010?
Why are Black women’s bodies compartmentalized, picked apart, and celebrated on the bodies of other women?
Although we can argue Serena Williams and Beyonce are equally celebrated for their curvy bodies, it really isn’t the same admiration given to these women.
White women, and less curvy women of color are cashing in on the “new trend.” Butt pads are flying off the shelves, and suddenly mainstream fashion commentary considers how great the butt looks in a Marchesa gown. Even some Black women find themselves compelled to compete with secret butt injections and medication that adds weight to the derriere.
From our music, dance moves and our bodies, it isn’t surprising to see our stuff as Ntozake Shange describes near stolen, repackaged and gilded anew.
–Geneva S. Thomas