2016 is “the year of the butt!” claimed an ad for a sports club on the subway. A nice pair of bubbly, bodacious buns beckons travelers. Turns out, last year’s ad said that same thing, so I’m not sure these guys can tell time.
And then I began to wonder—as is necessary on a NYC train ride so as not to stare at people uncomfortably—is this new embracing of full-figured modeling, thick hips, and an uncanny infatuation with butts just another way the media is appropriating assets always valued in the Black and Hispanic communities? Of course not, Alex. Stop smoking crack. Or at least pass the pipe so we can all be that twisted.
I felt a certain kind of way when, not too long ago, Cheryl Tiegs admonished plus-sized model Ashley Graham, saying, “I don’t like that we’re (now) talking about full-figured women, because it’s glamorizing them–and your waist should be smaller than 35 (inches)..” How dare you, Cheryl Tiegs? Part of the reason I felt a certain way is because I accidentally burned my tongue on a delicious, dark Columbian roast from 7/11 when I read the comment.
I felt a certain way for another reason. I took this diss a little personally because curvacious, thick, voluptuous women have always been highly-valued and praised for their beauty where I come from. Historically, minority women have always had plumper figures than their majority white neighbors.
I used to sleep underneath a painting of Marilyn Monroe. Now, that might seem quite odd for a black boy from South Side Chicago to admit, but my father is an artist. I could lie on my stomach and hide my tiny little erections from my parents at night and I would reach up and run my fingers across the dried paint to make sure Marilyn hadn’t left. She’d been dead almost 20 years when I was born. But 3-year-olds don’t always grasp the concept of finality, so it didn’t matter because she was the curviest woman I’d ever known at that point. I was in love, we were going to get married, and Eddie Winslow was going to be the minister, Al Bundy my best man. Alf was going to walk her down the aisle, and the Muppet Babies were family. The greater-American public’s idea of beauty was once pinup models. I’m tempted to say that even Bettie Page, Mae West, and Marilyn Monroe would be considered “fat” (as if the word is dirty) according to today’s industry standards.
Misinformation is everywhere today, possibly due to the fact that many people don’t enjoy truths that bring into question their versions of lies. As it turns out, Ashley Graham does rigorous workouts, including biking 25 miles around NYC.
And here comes the crusher… Is the fact that women are just becoming more full-figured naturally across the board, in every demographic, what’s really bothering Tiegs? Could there be jealousy there? Is it possibly a resistance to change, a reluctance to accept features that have traditionally been labeled as “black”? The world may never know..
The next question is: Why can’t we just train our youths to embrace and exercise their natural shapes, rather than help them to hate and fight them? Research has found that having a few extra pounds can actually be healthy and beneficial. Scientists now think that being overweight can protect your health.
It’s widely known that at some point, what’s popular in the minority will ultimately make its way into the majority. Mohawks, Socialism, and Hip Hop Culture are just a few examples. I could just be totally delusional. It’s happened before. And the last time it happened I ended up in a rubber room. I don’t care if I am because, although it’s getting less rare, these types of women, my types of women, could only hope to be featured in a copy of XXL or King Magazine, targeted at “urban” men and women. I was as if this form of beauty was something only a black person could love. Now that plus-sized women can strut down the runway, there’s a problem? I, for one am overjoyed at the prospects for the future of fashion.
All that said, every woman’s body should be celebrated, no matter the size or shape. I am partial to a nice curvaceous, maybe even chubby and/or big boned, woman with confidence. I remember having this crazy crush on Anna Maria Horsford when she was on the TV show Amen and even more so once she put on more weight on The Wayans, Bros. and she played the security officer, Dee. Hell, I even took a liking to Marsha Warfield when she was on Night Court.
But there was a time I was madly in love with a slimmer, more sinewy type of woman. There was a time when I was into thinner, more waifish-types as well. There was also a time when I believed in the power of Captain Planet. That shouldn’t stop younger Planeteers from believing in him. It just means I no longer believe in a hero who takes pollution down to zero.
To each his or her own. Your move, Ms. Tiegs.