A Brief History Of The Booty


Booty has been in the news a lot lately. Or at least my social media feed. I mean, if J-Lo’s new video hasn’t popped up on your screen yet, I’ll assume you’re living in a cave—or maybe you’re just better about filtering your media intake than I am. But it’s not just J-Lo. If you take Vogue’s word for it, the Booty is having a moment. Which is funny, because it seems like the booty has actually been around for a long time. Maybe it’s just that rich, white people who were formerly obsessed with NOT having a booty are finally realizing it’s a thing. Of course, commercializing women’s bodies—turning them into commodities—is a complicated thing. And sometimes we do it to ourselves.

In case you needed a refresher, I present to you a brief history of The Booty. (WARNING: Some links might not be 100% SFW.)

EARLY 1800s

Hottentot VenusThe Hottentot Venus arrives in England—Saartjie Baartman, of the Khoikhoi tribe, is sold into slavery and then sent to England to be put on display in the Piccadilly for her unusually large buttocks. England was entranced, but sadly, Baartman lived virtually as a slave until her death.




LATE 1800s

bustleThe bustle appears in the mid-1800s. The official line is that they held up heavy, ornate dresses. But maybe it was really booty envy.





MID 1900s

MonroeIn a 1952 Life magazine feature, Marilyn Monroe opened up about how she lifted small weights, “for the muscles I wish to keep firm.”






Bonita ApplebumA Tribe Called Quest’s debut album features Q-Tip extolling the virtues of Bonita Applebum.






Sir Mix A LotSorry, 2014. The 90s might actually be the original “decade of the booty.” Four words: Sir Mix-A-Lot.






84th Annual Academy Awards - ArrivalsJennifer Lopez makes it big with her album On the 6. And other things. Rumors fly she insures her very valuable backside for $300 million.






BootyliciousBeyonce and Destiny’s Child release Bootylicious. Assert, “I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly.”






Lady LumpsFerggie gets guys love drunk on her lady lumps.






implants?The New York Times reports on the explosion of butt implants in the U.S.






Kim KardashianKim Kardashian, and her most famous asset, launch to reality TV stardom. Eventually she defends herself against rumors of butt implants.





April, 2014

Jen SelterVanity Fair features Instagram butt selfie sensation Jen Selter.





Sept. 9, 2014

VogueWith only a slight nod to the 90s, Vogue declares the dawn of the Big Booty Era. Wait, what?





Sept. 12, 2014

Erika Nicole KendallErika Nicole Kendall‘s brilliant column for NPR addresses all the things Vogue kind of … missed.





Sept. 18, 2014

For better or worse, Big, Big Booty is here, according to J-Lo and Iggy Azalea.


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