It was the summer of 2007, and I was on the verge of tears as I faced what seemed to be an insurmountable task before me. We all have our moments of feeling inadequate…like whatever we do is never going to be good enough…and I felt sorry for the tall young woman standing beside me who was the recipient of my vented frustration. I stared at the contents of my arms, looking for a ray of hope, and thought about giving up and walking away like a coward. As my eyes scanned the room for all possible “Exit” signs, the lovely creature spoke to me in a voice filled with confusion, and I knew that there was no way I could graciously leave my predicament.
We were in the jeans department of Bloomingdales.
“But…you’re really small!” She said to me with a quizzical look, not seeming to understand why my inner drama queen was making a star appearance in the middle of her Thursday afternoon.
And the truth is, I was small…a size two in most things, but when it came to any sort of garment that had the job of wrapping around my large, bulbous rump…I had to go up at least one size. Many women dread the task of going bathing suit shopping, but that was never as big an issue with me. Shopping for jeans has always been traumatic, and…if I had not been as small as I was at the time, I wouldn’t have considered wearing a pair at all. In a bikini, the eyes have other places to go…but in a pair of jeans, I look like one big ass walking down the street. It’s very possible that people might stop and say:
“Oh my god! It has a head!”
And that has been the physical curse of my life since I was a pre-teen. Now, to put this in better context, let’s rewind a few years…
I grew up in an era where middle-class white girls all wanted to be as skinny as humanly possible. When I began developing, and was at that age when we are all horribly self-conscious of our bodies…I would stare in terror at what was happening in my full-length mirror. It didn’t help that, at the age of eleven, I had my first experience of one of the boys in my class referring to me as: “Donna big butt.”
Oh, the joys of puberty.
Along with my equally self-conscious (but less endowed) pre-teen girlfriends, I discovered every diet on the market. It all started with Slim-Fast, then made it’s way to “The 3-Day Diet”, a favorite of my best friend’s mother. Ridding myself of my large hindquarters became a sort of obsession with me, and I threw a fit when my mother refused to sign a consent form for me to join Nutrisystem when I was 15 years old. (Never mind that I was going to pay for it with my own money earned from an after school job…she wasn’t having it). Instead, I invested my money in Weight Watcher’s frozen meals and diet soda, and began power-walking every night. The pounds came off, but my rear end never did.
Considered reasonably “thin” by most people’s standards, I moved south to Los Angeles…where everyone was so skinny that my body issue returned with a vengeance. At the time, Kate Moss was the reigning queen of the runways, and all of us young girls were expected to emulate her “heroin chic”, emaciated look. The fashion of time didn’t help me at all, for, in 1993, tight bell bottoms with skinny butts were all the rage…and I simply could not wear them at all. I felt ugly as I watched all of the tiny girls in Hollywood and Beverly Hills prancing around with their little behinds, and spent the 90’s bouncing from The Cabbage Soup Diet to Fen Phen. If my friends and I could not get a doctor to prescribe us Fen Phen pills, we would wear a pair of baggy sweats with ankle weights hidden underneath them to meet the requirements for a prescription.
Then a new queen of the television airwaves hit… Calista Flockhart, who’s hit show Ally McBeal was the Must-See-TV of the year. Ms. Flockhart was so skinny that the bones in her back would poke out on the red carpet, and we watched as every other female character on the show diminished in size as well, presumably to keep up with the competition. And here is where I must pause.
The “competition.” It’s a strange premise, is it not? We were all competing, even if it was just with ourselves, to fit an “ideal” that was spoon-fed to us…by the media.
Right around the time that Ally McBeal was all the rage, I remember seeing an interview on an afternoon talk show with an up-and-coming young actress named Jennifer Lopez. As they announced her name, and she walked out onto the soundstage to greet the host, I recall that I did a double-take and leaned in closer to the TV to get a better view of what I was witnessing.
Her butt looks like mine!
Wait a minute, she’s had a couple of lead movie roles. They let her be in these movies, with a rear end like that? How is that possible?
Things didn’t change overnight, but they did begin to change. For a very long time, Jennifer Lopez was an anomaly-an exception to the rule-of what a Hollywood sex symbol should be. It was probably a good decade from the day that I saw her in that interview that another young woman, with an undeniably large, round behind, became a queen of the media. (Have you ever noticed that Kardashian rhymes with Large-Ass-ian? Just a thought). And now, the whole world has changed.
As a teen and young adult, I wanted nothing more than for my big derriere to disappear. I felt like a freak…as though I was deformed, and it was all because I didn’t fit into a “mold.” Nowadays, young women who are the same age that I was aspire to have round, large-in-proportion behinds. Buttock augmentation surgery is nearly as popular as breast augmentation…and I am dumbfounded. Ladies and gentlemen, I was born too early.
Or was I? As pleased as I am to see that society can now celebrate the beauty of a womanly behind, I am the same as I ever was…and that feature which was once thought to be an unfortunate attribute…is now prized. I never would have felt that way if it hadn’t been for the media…and all of us who bought into it. I abused my health because I thought that I wasn’t good enough, and countless other women have done the same.
Ladies, the next time that you see an article that makes you feel badly about yourself, take a quick moment to send an email to the editor. Simply say: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
And as for me? Well, the ones who were responsible for me being ashamed of my large derriere…can now kiss it.