No sane being would attempt to discuss race, class, sex, sexuality, body image, and Eurocentric definitions of beauty in the same blog entry.
No, no sane being.
Courtesy of Giles, who demonstrates far more restraint than I:
Beyoncé Knowles was a little too bootylicious for Maxim. The "Goldmember" star and lead singer of Destiny's Child is the cover girl in the August issue of the raunchy men's mag, and a source says the Maxim art department "worked overtime" slimming down Knowles' thighs and hips in a photo spread inside.
"SHE'S A healthy, big-bottomed girl," says a source. "She out-J. Lo's J. Lo in the behind department. They thought it was maybe a little too much of a good thing."
Interesting comparison, that, and a reason George is the Good Twin. If I'd worked at Salon, I most definitely would have brought up Erin J. Aubry's piece, Back is Beautiful:
If I had any doubts about the ascendancy of Jennifer Lopez's butt, they were put to rest during a recent stroll through a New York City airport. After arming myself with magazines to while away the three hours until flight time, I sat down and began with Vanity Fair. There, in the middle of a long narrative about the Reagans, dropped as coyly as a handkerchief, was a photo spread of Lopez. Its point of impact -- detonation, to be more exact -- was a shot of her from behind in which she peeked over one shoulder, clad in nothing but mules and a pair of old-fashioned briefs that rode strategically up over a high, rounded butt.
Being a black woman with a similar (all right, bigger) endowment, I felt an odd mixture of pride and panic. Was this a passing Hollywood fancy or a giant step for butt-kind? A racially steeped fetish wrapped in the glitter of celebritude, one of the chief bibles of which is Vanity Fair? Would my own butt, which I have alternately embraced and lamented and written about extensively as a metaphor for tortuously unrealized black assimilation in America, finally get its aesthetic props? Would James Brown be called out of retirement to record a '90s version of his signature new-social-order anthem titled "Say It Loud, I Got Back and I'm Proud"?
The short answer is it's far too early to tell. While the reviews of Lopez in her latest film have been wildly enthusiastic -- the L.A. Weekly rhapsodized bluntly about her "spectacular ass," the more restrained New Yorker dubbed her a bona fide "voluptuary" -- I reserve suspicions that folks are merely effusing over the appearance of a young actress in a romantic lead who isn't blond and/or appears to live entirely on Slim-Fast. But from where I sit -- and from what I sit on -- Lopez's butt, while certainly one to be admired, is of entirely modest proportions. I went to see "Out of Sight" with a woman friend who turned to me as the final credits were running and said, looking rather bewildered, "Where was the butt here? What in the world are you going to write about?"
There is no gentle way to say this: There really ain't that much back there, comparatively speaking.
What you're using as a basis for the comparison is another of them cultural things. Since any attempt to explain things for the tourists only confuses them, I'll let them either do their own research (not bloody likely), ask if they're not following (not bloody likely) or rant about how I'm angry, racist and think white chicks generally have no ass whatsoever.
Quite likely, that last one. And they actually get one out of three correct for once.
Want to know less? I managed to not write about this sort of thing before, and am bailing now. I may not be sane, but I am easily distracted, and it's nice outside.
Update: Typical. Two of the three links I tried in the old entry are broken. And it's only been less than two years. Go figure.
Or did, until I searched for 'em, setting off a check of the respective robots.txt files for those sites which will probably result in them getting pulled. Funny old life, ennit?
Update 8/12: From that second link:
In African American and Latino cultures, on the other hand, Whitehead-Laboo said that roundness and voluptuousness are attributes. "It is considered a tragedy not to have a behind [in African American culture]," she said with a laugh. The songs "Baby Got Back," by Sir Mixalot, and "Doing the Butt" are examples of African American men voicing their opinion that it is preferable for women to be slightly large.
In another example, Rosie O'Donnell and Madonna were on a trip to a Latin American country and O'Donnell received more favorable male attention, Whitehead-Laboo said. "A bone is for the dog, meat is for the man," explained one male inhabitant of that country when O'Donnell asked why she got all this attention.
[ . . .] Whitehead-Laboo's speech also touched on the occurrence of eating disorders in the gay community. Fewer lesbians than heterosexual women suffer from eating disorders due to their rejection of traditional sex roles, she said. As gender identities are altered and more lesbians become comfortable with maintaining a feminine appearance, these lesbians may be more susceptible to eating disorders.
That last sentence makes my brain hurt. Perhaps I just know the wrong people.
Or the right people.