Written by Shauna Murray
I’ll say right off the bat, I’ve got a pretty sizable bum. It’s not like earth quakingly sizeable (Word wants me to know that ‘quakingly’ isn’t a word, but FREEDOM OF SPEECH and all that), but it is like THERE. Also, I know very little about the Kardashians. What I do know about them is that some (all?) of them have big bums and that people BLOODY LOVE IT. But I remember quite vividly, growing up very ashamed of my large bum. I remember trying to pull a pair of blue jeans on and my Mum having to come help me, stating that I had a “J-lo Bum” (I didn’t. Hers is crafted and genetics, mine is Kettle Chips and sitting on the bus). I remember being horrified. Distraught. I thought everyone had secretly known for years that I was some huge bummed beast roaming around the school corridors, frightening year 7’s and blocking everybody’s path.
Today however, every 14 to 40 year old I see on social media is arching their back into a right angle to show off a big bum. This has me thinking – you’ll find a lot of this waffle is me thinking and rarely (if at all) answering – why is it good to have a big bum now? Why now? Why is it the bum’s turn? A few years ago I’m pretty sure we all wanted big boobs? Jordan/Katie Price really wanted us to want big boobs, she had a plus size bra line and everything (why do I know this?). Kids in school wore brightly coloured bras under white shirts to draw even more attention to their chest. Non-padded bras barely existed. And a few years before that we REALLY wanted flat stomachs. Like, BADLY wanted them. Kate Moss was the IT girl wasn’t she, everyone wanted to have a tummy as flat as Kate’s. Crop tops weren’t even really cropped, they were just a rectangular bra to put on over your actual bra and jeans were so low that you couldn’t actually sit down in them without resembling the local builder. But even if we weren’t fawning after Kate’s belly, we still wanted that slim physique.
People still want flat stomachs but generally we don’t seem to care so much. Flat stomach people are all ‘Fitness’ people now, not regular people. We have lots of garments that hold stomachs in now too so the NEED for the flat stomach appears to have bypassed for the time being. So I keep thinking, when did women’s body parts become a trend? It’s not a new phenomenon, not by any means. I mean, it’s more in our face with the influx of technology and photos shoved in our face on the daily. But it’s been here since, well since when? Different cultures and religions covet different body parts for more set in stone reasons, rarely changing. Western society appears to enjoy allowing body parts to take their turn in the limelight. In the 80’s long legs were THE THING. Nearly all fashionable women’s clothing was cut as high up as possible to elongate the pins. Of course they wanted the pins to be slim, but unfortunately that’s a passion that has yet to move on. But LONG was desirable. And with items cut as high as possible, many women would attempt to achieve a pretty leggy goal. They also liked big shoulders – but only with padding. Actually having broad shoulders wasn’t in.
Rewind a bit further to the 50’s (and partially the 60’s) and that Coke Bottle Figure was all the rage. Which is another thing to mull over, why did the world used to be obsessed with Coca-Cola? Why did Coca-Cola transcend traditional beverage marketing and find itself the inspiration for HUMAN BODIES?! Also, Coke or Pepsi? I’m getting off track. So, the 50’s. The tinier the waist, the better. If your waist dipped in significantly you were golden. Which has me curious, are you waiting for your era? Or has your era been and gone? I don’t fit neatly into any era. My waist would enjoy the 50’s, except my shoulders are a little too narrow for the desired ‘effect’, my legs would enjoy the 80’s but my hips jut out a little ‘too far’, my bum would enjoy nowadays if it stuck out the ‘right’ way. Every 30 years I NEARLY fit the mould. Have you fit the mould yet? Did you miss your era? It’s difficult enough being consistently saturated with images of ‘the perfect body’, but with that body changing every few years…how are we meant to keep up? And who even decides this? Is it us? Do we get bored of seeing this body part emphasised over and over that we start to obsess on another part just to escape the previous? We’ve all got the bodies that we’ve got, can we please just make the best of them? Whatever that means to us! People body shame and people desire shapes they can’t attain, but why? Why not enjoy what we have? Really, look at yourself and ask yourself what’s SO bad? Nothing. It’s a human form, human form has inspired artwork for centuries. You’re a work of art dammit, enjoy that! All this focus on what’s in style, what’s next, what needs to be bigger, smaller, bodies can’t keep up with that. They can’t reform themselves continuously. There’s bones there, organs, it can’t just be reshaped endlessly. And honestly, how exhausting.
About The Writer:
BA Acting & Creative Performance.
If you’re wondering why this is terribly written, it’s because I’m not a writer. I mean, I write. I write Absurdist plays. A play. I’ve written one play. One and a half, I’m writing another. And a few half written poems in the note section of my phone that no-one’s ever read.
Photography by Amber Schormans