We are smack in the middle of a butt-loving society. Whether we’re Pinteresting “Make Your Butt Bigger” or doing YouTube exercise videos that promise, “You will have a butt like Kim Kardashian,” we have moved far away from the joy of exposed midriffs (nice try Forever 21) and are well on our way to making bottoms the next hot commodity (I’m also almost certain that leggings as pants are making a comeback as a result).
After reading a recent article on Elite Daily called, “10 things more interesting about a girl than her ass,” I reached out to the writer, Alexa Schnee. Schnee is a 23-year-old contributor to the news and entertainment website who also covers travel for USAToday’s 10Best as an expert of Florence, Tuscany. She lives in Florence and published a novel three years ago, at age 20, called “Shakespeare’s Lady.”
Schnee studied writing at Sarah Lawrence College, which is about 30-minutes north of downtown Manhattan, New York. From studying at Sarah Lawrence, this young author says she has developed a strong writing style and has been able to feed her passion for feminism.
I asked Schnee what about asses makes everyone want to talk about them, to which she responded, “Like any physical attribute of a woman, at some time or another, it tends to be exploited,” adding that centuries ago, tiny waists were so desirable that women wore crippling corsets, just as now, women follow suggestions outlined in magazines for how to get the perfect butt.
“I couldn’t give you the exact reason why our generation has chosen to love the ass,” Schnee says, “but I would have to say that it is a trend – just like voluptuous figure in the Renaissance or waifishness in the sixties.”
One of Schnee’s favourite quotes is by Tina Fey, identifying how women are expected to have certain attributes in order to be considered “beautiful” and how impossible that is because different body parts so frequently go in and out of style.
Kim Kardashian’s recent PAPER cover for the magazine’s winter edition is physical proof that our culture celebrates a woman’s behind, and sometimes, not very much else (though, all the power to Kim for confidently owning her possibly airbrushed body and curves).
“Kim has every right to take those pictures,” Schnee says. “She is free to make that choice, but it can definitely make a negative impact on other women.”
According to the Canadian Women’s Health Network, exposure to images of ideal beauty (in this case, the ideal bum) can increase a person’s dissatisfaction, depression and anger while also lowering self-esteem in both women and men. We may feel dissatisfied with our own bodies when we see nearly naked cover photos, as media often ties success, acceptance and happiness with looking the part of a cover model.
“Our generation has grown up on photoshopped women…Almost like, ‘real women don’t look like that.’ But in reality, real women look every way, so it’s the same old problem, just repackaged with different celebrities and idols and a different ideal,” Schnee says.
Women can do a lot more than break the Internet with their asses (though this is most certainly possible, just as it’s feasible to break it again with a video for a song called, “7/11” that features a lot of underwear dancing). We can travel. We can write. We can practice math and science. We can dance until three in the morning. We can laugh. We can smile with our eyes. We can also use our voice. We can vote. We can birth children. We can teach. We can sing. We can lift weights. We can run marathons. We can rule a courtroom.
“We live in a society where women are expected to be everything,” Schnee says. “We’re supposed to be intelligent (but not too intelligent), beautiful, be capable, have a great body, etc. My hope is that someday, we can live in a society where women only have to be themselves in order to be valued. By showing that there are other things about women that are more than worthy to admire than just their behinds, others might be willing to change their minds about what is really important.”
“I think when we first meet someone, it’s impossible to not notice physical features about them – it’s the way biology works. But, even if my ‘assets’ are noticed first, it would mean much more to me if someone complimented me on something else: My laugh, my eyes. Even better, they could just ask to talk to me,” Schnee says.
Men also feel pressure to attain the perfect body, which is shown in advertisements, news articles, television shows and music videos. By focusing in these ideals, Schnee says we tend to believe there is only one way to be, adding that there is a lot of pressure to look a certain way, while we should really be accepting that people look different from one another and that different bodies do not mean certain bodies are wrong.
For Schnee, the hope is that more advertisers begin to realize women aren’t content with their bodies being used to sell a product.
Like in the video of second graders reacting to the new Lammily doll, which is a Barbie with realistic proportions, it’s clear that our perception of how we must look and act as women is formed when we are very young. However, “by providing a toy like this, we’re changing how future generations are going to view women,” Schnee says.
If more body types are portrayed as normal, as noted in the video linked above, then it will become easier for us to accept the body types we see every day.
If you have a story you want to share about owning your body and developing physical, emotional and social self-confidence, let us know by commenting on this post.