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Why are there no big bums in fashion?

08 September 2014, 09:26

Nairobi - The music industry, in particular, has enjoyed lyrically commenting on the female behind for the last few decades. As the Sydney Morning Herald says, it’s been almost 20 years since we first listened to Sir Mix-A-Lot celebrating large buttocks in the cult classic song 'Baby Got Back'.

Since then we’ve seen a massive growth (pun intended) in the appreciation of the female bum. And in this case: bigger is better.

Female artists have undoubtedly upped the booty ante, so to speak. All the way from Destiny’s Child’s ‘Bootylicious’, to the recent Nicki Minaj hit ‘Anaconda’ and J.Lo’s new ‘Booty’ Remix featuring the ever-so-gorgeous Iggy Azalea. Yes, booty has become a new kind of currency. Those who have it, and flaunt it, are the ones who ultimately reap the rewards.

Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea’s respective performances at the annual MTV Video Music Awards, left me in awe. I couldn’t help but think about how these artists are changing the way women are portrayed in media today. Owning their fabulous shapes - still a far cry from the mainstream straight lines we see every day - has only helped them in their careers. The same can be said for Kim Kardashian sharing selfie upon selfie, sorry belfie upon belfie (butt-selfie) of her voluptuous bottom with us on a semi-daily basis.

If bigger bums (whether fake or real) are so revered in music, then why is there such a lack of larger behinds in fashion ads or seen on the world’s high-fashion catwalks?

If we consider models like Robyn Lawley to be the plus-size model of our time (at size 12 and almost 2m tall), we have a long, very, very, long way to go when it comes to booty-fying the modelling industry. It’s actually shameful.

The fashion industry, one of the biggest and fastest growing industries in the world still doesn’t offer us much in terms of clothing for the curvy girl or imagery of models that resemble the bodies of Iggy Azalea or even Beyonce for that matter.

Actually, it’s not about the bum (again whether fake or real). In fact, it’s about variety and the lack of curves in aspirational fashion. Beauty house MAC Cosmetics has used Nicki Minaj in a past campaign, and yes, Kim K has covered CR Fashion Book, but why aren’t these celebs ever asked to front fashion campaigns or fragrance ads?

Also read: 6 problems only big butted girls will understand
I must say, I am not completely comfortable with men or women singing about bums as currency, as I believe it reduce us to single body parts, which is not ideal. However, music, film and fashion drive our world every day. It is part of our trajectory, no matter how hard we try to distance ourselves.

The people children and even us as adults look up to, are inspired by, and mimic those who lead pop culture. Sometimes this is a sad fact, (Bieber, *cough*), yet it can also be pretty powerful, like embracing your body for what it is, not for what it ‘should’ be.

When I look at the music industry I see variety in colour, creed and shape. Fashion pales (literally) in comparison, as it continues to choose the super skinny ‘mainstream’ look instead of opening its predominantly white, upper-middle class minds to an entire world of shapes and sizes to celebrate.

Is this perhaps because fashion is still mainly white owned?

Let us know what you think.

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