Bottoms Up: Why Everybody Needs to Relax About Their Butts

Black market butt injections and chicken pills? It's time to call a truce with your tush

First, 20-year-old aspiring hip hop star Claudia Aderotimi died last week when the illegal, industrial-strength silicone she had injected into her butt in a Philadelphia hotel room seeped into her bloodstream. Now, Jezebel is reporting that women are popping supplements marketed as butt boosters (with classy names like Big Beautiful Butt Formula and Brand New Booty) -- which are actually potentially dangerous hormones designed to fatten up chickens.

And this is just the latest. Last March, half a dozen New Jersey women showed up in hospitals with infections and abscesses on their rear ends, courtesy of the black market butt injections they'd received, which turned out to contain mostly bathroom caulk and petroleum jelly.

I have to believe this is not what Sir-Mix-A-Lot had in mind.

What's most disturbing about all this butt blacklash is that it's all about women desperately trying to meet a beauty standard that actually started out as liberating. As in: It's okay to have some junk in your trunk! When Jennifer Lopez, and other butt icons first hit it big, we were all excited, because for about twenty golden minutes in America, women were allowed to have curves. You could stop asking, "Does my butt look big in this?" Because thick was good.

Now? Thick is just one more thing to worry about. Add squats and lunges to the list of thigh-blasters and tricep tighteners we're all supposed to be doing every darn day to morph our bodies into some US Weekly version of beautiful. Whatever you're blessed with, back door-wise, it's most likely either too small, or too flabby. We took what could have been a totally body positive moment and we called it fat. The whole idea of "booty' became cartoonish, a beauty ideal that you could only achieve through relentless exercise and/or plastic surgery.

And here we are. Women are literally putting their lives on the line to have better butts.

Even if you don't go the injection/supplement route, you've probably bought into this butt business in some form. I know I have. I come from a long line of flat-butted British women, and I've agonized plenty about why I can gain weight around my waist, but it never seems to go back where it could actually be useful. So I know I'm not all that different from Claudia or any of the women buying chicken hormones. The only line between us is that I picked a career that lets me sit all day in the privacy of my office, while she wanted to work in an industry where fitting this beauty ideal is a prerequisite to getting a paycheck.

What we really need to do is stop debating the butt issue and instead, take a step back and ask how we can stop perpetuating such unrealistic beauty standards. We keep creating these thinner/tighter/better messages, taking what could have been a perfectly lovely "hey it's okay to be curvy" trend and turning it into something impossible and wrong.

So, start by giving your butt a break. (If you need inspiration, check out Dara Chadwick's fantastic love letter to her behind.) Then let yourself off the hook for whatever you're constantly trying to change. Because I bet you that somewhere else in the world, women are nearly killing themselves trying to look just like you, when we'd all be better off just looking like ourselves.

Virginia Sole-Smith is a journalist whose work has appeared in Slate, Glamour and The New York Times.

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