I used to hate my butt. Like, really hate it, and look in the mirror at it, and poke at it with despair, and try to fit it into a pair of size 00 colored skinny jeans from Pac Sun. Which always fell down, plumbers-crack style, because they didn’t have room for my butt.
[The infancy of my budding behind. Oh middle school.]
Today, the butt is the golden standard of beauty. It is the center of focus in many ads, selfies, and every most-liked picture on your Instagram. A big, perky butt is the beacon of sexuality, of youth, of hotness. Everyone wants a butt. Girls want to strut them around in body-con dresses like nineteenth century bustles. Boys want to use them as post-coital pillows. The butt is the new skinny.
But as I know, remembering days when I refused to wear spandex to practice my freshman year in high school (people would see how big and squishy and bouncy my butt was through them – how mortifying), it was not always this way.
[Me hiding the booty. And that’s just mud. Don’t be gross.]
The first time someone complimented my butt was the spring of my sophomore year of high school. I was running ahead of my coach at the time (yes, a female, this isn’t a creepy story), totally unaware of the adorable yet lively bouncing behind me. I had all but forgotten my butt by then, since the I-don’t-care-about-school-so-sweatpants-erryday look was in, so it surprised me when my coach broke the breathy silence to compliment it.
“Oh my god Gianna,” she squealed, pinching me on the left cheek. “Look at your cute little butt.”
I blushed, mortified but also intrigued. Was my butt cute? Was she weird, or was this ever-present block of lard on top of my thighs a good thing? I stuck my hips out a little more that run, the first tinglings of butt-pride altering my form from a sixteen-year-old’s awkward lope to the butt-conscious strut of a woman.
[When my butt first began to rear its rounded head. Please ignore my terrible form.]
The next round of butt gratification came soon after. I was lying in the bed of my first high school boyfriend, feeling drunk for the first time off of the warm-fuzziness of my very first real make-out session. He grabbed my butt and croaked in my ear, in the cracking voice of a horny seventeen year old, “God, I love your ass.” I was elated, but also curious. I liked the feel of his hand on my butt – but did he like it too? What was with this butt thing?
True to form for a future Harvard student, I couldn’t let this butt question go unanswered. So as he tried to work his seventeen year old “magic” on my clueless body, I dug for some clarification.
“Why do you love my, erm, ass?” I asked, trying to draw his full attention by using a swear.
He stopped whatever it was he was doing and looked up at me, confused.
“Um, I dunno. It’s like, small… but big too, you know?”
I nodded, vaguely satisfied. I had seen it bouncing behind me for years now. I did know.
[Here is me just showing off (left). I knew my butt game was on point.]
And so my life went, my once detested behind playing a larger and larger part of my life as I grew older and more aware. By the time I came to college, I was ready. The butt had just burst onto the scene. Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Kim Kardashian, people in athletic clothes on Instagram proved the butt’s reign had officially begun. And my butt and I were reaping the benefits, bouncing along on top of the world.
Since then, we have had our ups and downs. When my college team (I’ve since quit) began to hit the weight room twice a week, my butt got serious. I was squatting near my body weight (not a lot for most people probably, but listen, I was a cross country runner and this was huge for me) and my underwear were no longer fitting. Jeans were a joke of the past. My friends started to grab and pinch at my butt all the time.
[My really pale butt straight killing the game (left). Look at them cheeks, for real.]
I almost felt like it had surpassed me in popularity, but that’s okay, because its time in the spotlight was now. When a boy slapped my ass and yelped, “Your butt is so big!” I was proud, and flattered, rather than tearful and insulted. All hail the reign of the ass.
These days, I am a little lazy (no more squatting, a lot less running) and my butt is a little flatter. She sags where she once protruded, but she still bounces, life-like and fleshy in her Lulus despite her lack of perk. I’m still cool with her though. I know no matter what, she’ll do her thing and that’ll be that. The reign of the butt will come and go. One day boobs will be back, and I’ll be the last in line for compliments. But even then, I will love my butt, and I will love the body attached to it. My butt taught me that everything can, and will, be sexy. It taught me that body hate is a waste of time, because there will always be something new to hate or love, and it’s pointless to keep up with it all. It taught me to respect the ass, and with it respect my whole body, because someone is going to love it, so I might as well too. I love my butt. I love my body. I love me. Because every part of it and I– together we are beautiful.
[Me and my cousin straight killing the booty/body love game last Christmas. We’re covered in flaws, and we’re pretty weird, but have you ever seen people looking this happy?]