Vogue is receiving a flood of unofficial pitches after declaring: “We’re Officially in the Era of the Big Booty.”
“In music videos, in Instagram photos, and on today’s most popular celebrities, the measure of sex appeal is inextricably linked to the prominence of a woman’s behind,” Vogue explained, before offering this dubious take on the history of booty appreciation (or lack thereof):
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.
There’s a lot of eyebrow-raising material in Vogue’s article, which was pegged to the forthcoming video for Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea’s twerk-happy collab, “Booty.”
Lopez, of course, has long been famous for her glutes. Vogue concedes that “when [Lopez] first arrived on the scene in the late nineties a lot of the buzz surrounding her focused on the back of her voluptuous body.” The fashion glossy goes on to explain that “Lopez’s behind was so unique and evidently so valuable, there were rumors she had taken out insurance worth millions to protect the asset.”
Lopez isn’t the only voluptuous woman mentioned in Vogue’s article — a couple paragraphs are devoted to Kim Kardashian, for obvious reasons. Jen Selter, purveyor of butt selfies (belfies for short), also gets a shout-out.
Vogue even made room for Miley Cyrus, noting that her performance at the 2013 VMAs “proved you didn’t need to have a large butt to become a part of the conversation.”
Those inclusions, in particular, fueled some of the backlash. As The Root put it: Vogue Magazine Just Realized Big Butts Are a ‘Thing’ and Credits White People.”
Some Twitter users took the opportunity to suggest other #VogueArticles.
We’re sensing a pattern here.
The neo soul awakening – Adele & Lorde bring the vibes. #VogueArticles
— Royal Peign (@BHisaRockstar) September 10, 2014
“How To Be A Feminist AND Keep Your Natural Hair”, guest-written by Lena Dunham #voguearticles
— &e-ru (@dvnix) September 10, 2014
In April, Kara Brown of Jezebel zeroed in why the obsession with Selter’s backside (and those of other white women) is particularly problematic. “The real issue here is that as soon as a beauty trend or trait becomes popular in the mainstream, women of color are instantly eliminated from the equation – be it as the originators or idols,” Brown wrote.
While Vogue offers passing mentions to Rihanna, Beyonce and Nicki Minaj in its ode to butts, the piece falls pancake-flat when referencing the song “Bootylicious” by Beyonce’s old group, Destiny’s Child.
In 2001, they released “Bootylicious,” which posed the question: Can you handle this? The song was a hit, of course, and the video, a fun dance party without a twerk in sight, brought a new kind of figure into the spotlight. Still, it would be another decade before people were “ready for this jelly” to become the ultimate standard of beauty.
Over at Jezebel, Brown has revisited the issue, noting that the writer “is careful not to use the word ‘black’ specifically (or even the more PC African-American) or make any suggestion that wisdespread admiration for this feature predated a Vogue.com post.”
(Vogue’s press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment; if it does, we’ll add that statement here.)
This isn’t the first time a mainstream magazine has caught flak for going all Stuff White People Like when announcing a trend. Marie Claire apologized in April after tweeting that a cornrow-clad Kendall Jenner had taken “bold braids to a new epic level.” And that same month, Vanity Fair — which, like Vogue, is published by Conde Nast — received criticism for praising Selter’s “derrière extraordinaire.”