Ed. note: In February, contributing writer Justin “Bauce Sauce” Roberson wrote an insightful and hard-hitting (don’t laugh) essay about white people’s current obsession with derrieres over breasts. Ten months later, after Nicki Minaj broke Vevo with her video for "Anaconda" and Kim Kardashian attempted to break magazine covers forever with her butt, interest in backsides has not flagged. We’re all united under ass. This essay is as relevant today as it was then.
On February 13, 2014, Jimmy Kimmel unveiled the prestigious Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover. This was not just any cover. This was the 50th anniversary of female objectification under the guise of “sports.”
But there was something different. Replacing the usual mammary art gallery was a showcase hitherto unseen on Sports Illustrated’s illustrious swimsuit cover: butts. And, not just one butt—several butts.
Without question, the models on display—Nina Agdal, Lily Aldridge, and Chrissy Teigen—have fine glutes. But why? Why would Sports Illustrated, the preeminent magazine for sports, buck tradition and settle on this? According to Jezebel, only two of SI’s 50 covers “featured women posing with their backside facing the camera.”
"Physiologically, heterosexual white males were unable to achieve erections from gazing at images of the female posterior alone until circa 2002," says Cornell biologist Carey Williams, herself neither male nor white. "Damn if those weren't the most hilariously pathetic clinical trials though," she adds with a chuckle. "Real 'deer in the headlights' situation, if you know what I mean."
She offered her expert opinion on the above graphic and why no one remembers these covers. “Ann Simonton (1974, left), scientifically speaking, possesses the backside of a piece of cheese left out on the counter for five hours. This was fairly common in white women up until the early 2000s; their butts were two-dimensional. But please direct your attention to the photo on the right, which is from 2004. Now, there is an obvious evolution, but still Veronika Vařeková’s backside doesn’t have so much of a gluteus as she does an extra helping of upper thigh. This is a phenomenon I discovered. I refer to it as ‘Staunch Haunch.’”
White America has been requesting and karaokeing Sir Mix-A-Lot’s seminal booty-ode “Baby Got Back” at weddings, school dances, company parties, and bar mitzvahs for what some scholars estimate to be a millenia. However, it wasn’t until RapGenius.com was created in 2009 that they finally understood what it meant. “Back” didn’t mean “back.” “Back” meant “butt!” The tides began to shift. That same year, rapper EDUBB released a song called “Whooty,” celebrating the recent phenomenon of “white girls with booty.” Awareness of butts was at a fever pitch.
In 2010, more scientific research was done regarding butts. Scientists from the University of Oxford discovered that women with larger than average butts are not only more intelligent but also highly resistant to chronic illnesses. White America took note because there aren’t many things they love more than a good scientific study. The PAWG movement began.
One of those few things White America loves more than a scientific study is appropriating. As White America stole more and more from Black culture for their own gain, they began to adopt rapper’s perceived emphasis on the posteriors of women. A positive byproduct was that White America also began to reject their own beauty ideals, the same ones that have whitewashed advertising and indeed the entire western world’s concept of what is attractive. They were now noticing butts of all shapes and hues. However, what White America couldn’t anticipate was that years later their appropriation and white guilt would manifest itself into an anthropomorphic form colloquially known as a “Macklemore.”
All of this evidence merely explains White America’s expanded awareness of hindquarters, not their appreciation. Boobs, or as some call them “tits,” still reigned king. But a man named Steve Jobs would change all that.
The Apple Phone in 2007 revolutionized the smartphone industry. Over the years, people began texting and emailing and Angry Birding and tweeting more than they were looking each other in the eyes. This created a medical condition called “Text Neck.” The frequent forward head flexing from staring down at mobile devices causes cervical spinal degeneration and repeated strain on the back of the neck. While they were busy tapping away on touchscreens, White America tried to look up one day, and could not. They could physically no longer lift their heads up high enough to gaze upon breasts. They could only stare at butts.
In an interview with NBCNews.com, Dean L. Fishman, a chiropractor at the Text Neck Institute said “This is a global epidemic…It’s starting younger and younger. There are more than six billion phones connected, and that’s not counting the Kindles, iPads, tablets and all these devices we rely on daily.” It was discovered that his youngest patient is three years old. That may sound terrifying, but really, it’s delightful. Generations of children are growing up who can only look down and notice butts in their peripherals.
Butts have been important and hip for many moons. White America was just slow to pick up on it, as they are with all things cool. This 50th anniversary Sports Illustrated cover celebrates this tragically long road for White America. It took decades of rap music, RapGenius.com, the discovery of twerking, analingus going mainstream, Miley Cyrus, and Steve Jobs doing acid to get us here. The Caucasian deity himself, Steve Jobs, once famously remarked, “The journey is the reward!” Usually, that is true. But, in this case, the future is the reward, because it awaits us with butts—many, many scrumptious butts.
Written by Bauce Sauce (@BauceSauce)