As we await the premiere of Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea’s new music video, it would appear that the big booty has officially become ubiquitous.
For years it was exactly the opposite; a large butt was not something one aspired to, rather something one tried to tame in countless exercise classes. Even in fashion, that daring creative space where nothing is ever off limits, the booty has traditionally been shunned. Though nipples have long been a runway staple.
Perhaps we have Jennifer Lopez to thank (or blame?) for sparking the booty movement. When she first arrived on the scene in the late nineties, a lot of the buzz surrounding her focused on the back of her voluptuous body. Her derrière quite literally stood out against the other sex symbols of the moment, signaling a shift away from the waif era of Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Moss and the outrageously large-breasted Pam Anderson. Lopez’s behind was so unique, and evidently so valuable, there were rumors she had taken out insurance worth millions to protect the asset.
Around the same time, the look of pop music was set by Britney Spears’s over-toned abs. But the curvaceous bodies that made up Destiny’s Child had also started making waves on MTV in 2001 with “Bootylicious.”
Enter Kim Kardashian. Kardashian and her family debuted their reality show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, in 2007. It made the entire clan famous, of course, but Kardashian’s behind was the real star, and was frequently employed as a plot device. In one season, Kardashian even X-rayed her body to prove her curves were real and not the by-product of artificial implants. Instagram also launched that other famous booty: the one on workout sensation Jen Selter. A civilian who just happens to do an obscene amount of squats, Selter is known for her belfies (just put two and two together) and every single one of her posts to her 4 million followers makes sure to include the bubble butt that launched her career front and center.
Then came the total bootification of pop music. At the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, Miley Cyrus proved you didn’t need to have a large butt to become a part of the conversation, you just needed to know how to attract enough attention to one.Shakira and Rihanna had a booty-off in their video for “Can’t Remember to Forget You.” Beyoncé surprised the world by dropping her Visual Album last December—and her good-girl image. The racy video for “Partition” has her in a bejeweled thong on a top of a piano, while “Rocket” begins with the lyrics: “Let me sit this ass on you.”
Recently, Nicki Minaj remixed the original butt song by Sir Mix-A-Lot, “Baby Got Back,” into “Anaconda,” driving the point home with extreme twerking, blatant close-up shots of her booty, and cut-to-the-chase lyrics: “Fuck those skinny bitches in the club/I wanna see all the big fat ass bitches in the motherfucking club.”
Which brings us full circle to J. Lo—the original trailblazing butt girl—and the imminent video for “Booty.” It features the 45-year-old doused in what looks like Vaseline or honey, prompting listeners to “Throw up your hands if you love a big booty.” It’s safe to say that, this time around, the world is thoroughly ready for the jelly.