Having Back Is Back

Discussion in 'Trend Spotting' started by tangerine, May 14, 2004.

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  1. tangerine

    tangerine Soviet Camaro

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    From sfgate.com:

    Pop stars relish a newfound freedom to flaunt their curves, but the fashion police fight a rearguard action to defend skinniness Bootylicious is OK -- so long as it's tight

    Last month, three of R&B's leading ladies strutted their stuff across the stage of the Arena in Oakland. The musical styles ranged from soul- pop to hip-hop, but the stars did have one thing in common besides their talent: When the time came to shake their booty, they actually had something to shake. Whether Beyonce's sleek-but-still-full figure, Missy Elliott's healthy heft or Alicia Keys' plush lines, each woman boasted a body type that is moving from fashion's sidelines to its center stage.

    Girl-fat: It's back. Just as the early '90s fetishized top-heavy breasts and lanky gams, the early 21st century has shifted its gaze lower, toward what many view as the more realistic assets of a copious bottom supported by well- padded legs. For better or worse, led by the popularity of Jennifer Lopez's famous derriere, the American body politic has entered a new and voluptuous phase.

    "Musicians in R&B and hip-hop who are full-figured are becoming powerful role models to teens, even more than actresses," says Rachel Zalis, West Coast editor for Glamour, whose May cover features a slimmed-down, but still opulent, Queen Latifah. "They're standing up and saying, 'We have a lot of self-esteem and confidence, and you don't have to be skinny to have those.' "

    Full-figured women have long been celebrated in black and Latino culture. Now, with music as its conduit, that acceptance has started to cross over into the mainstream white arena, where girls who once idealized Madonna's muscles are now wishing they had J. Lo's bottom and Beyonce's legs. Christina Aguilera has embraced her Latin heritage and transformed from emaciated waif to sultry voluptuary, and although white pop stars such as Britney Spears and Pink might obsess over their weight, they've never presented a skinny profile.

    "Those women aren't running around trying to get into a size zero dress," notes hip-hop DJ and writer Davey D. "There's an appreciation for just being normal."

    Susan Bordo, author of "Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture and the Body," agrees that perceptions are improving. "I don't feel nearly as ashamed to wear tight pants and a top that shows off my shape as I would have five years ago. And that's thanks to hip-hop culture."

    For those who worry about unrealistic representations of women in media, the trend toward lushness is promising. But many also worry that the current booty fever is simply objectification taken from another angle.

    There is, for example, the controversy over misogyny in mainstream rap videos. The sexiness-versus-sexism debate has raged since Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back" in 1992, which both affirmed the appeal of larger women and exploited their anatomy. Since then, rap has become the dominant force in popular music -- and so has the cult of booty, epitomized by videos packed with rote scenes of gyrating women in thongs.

    "There's a lot of over-sexualizing of women in rap videos," Davey D says. "That's a problem, in terms of giving women respect and embracing them as equals and not objects."

    Having back, or getting it, has become big business. With the popularity of low-riding jeans and anthems like Destiny's Child's "Bootylicious," cleavage below the waist is now as coveted as cleavage above, and gluteal implants are a thriving commodity in the plastic surgery world.

    There's the rub. As quickly as physical fashion grows closer to a realistic body type, critics say, new ways are invented to make it as inaccessible as the big-breasted, skinny model archetype. Big is beautiful, but it must also be toned and smooth. R&B stars like Beyonce, Latifah and Missy Elliott get sleeker and slimmer with every new platinum record. The bigger the career, the smaller the body.

    "There's an investment in being thin in the beauty industry, an economic investment in women's insecurity," says Dereca Blackmon, executive director for the Leadership Excellence youth program and local co-chair for the National Hip Hop Political Convention. "And while there's been a shift, I think the beauty industry is fighting back. There's a fight in the media for control of images of women. The insecurity lobby has a lot of money, and they're not going to go away quietly."

    Says Bardo, "We might have a more bootylicious bottom and a little more stomach, but there's going to be a lot more people working out to keep it as tight as J. Lo. There's permission to be more zaftig. Yet at the same time, you better make sure it's toned. You're still not allowed to be loose. So while I see bodies nowadays that make me think we're getting a little better with our demands on the body, there's so much that seems to be suggesting otherwise."

    Including this: Glamour's Queen Latifah issue might be dedicated to body pride -- hence a woman of size gracing its cover -- but most models in its pages are thin, with "plus-size" models, who look no "plusser" than average women, relegated to the size-related articles. Compare this to the latest issue of Essence, in which larger models share equal space with their thinner counterparts.

    Bardo thinks the double standard comes down to old racial and class codes. "The long, skinny, thin types are the aristocrats," she says. "And it's OK to be a little voluptuous if you're working class. It's OK to be more earthy or sexy. But the aristocratic woman is above all that. There's the hot body and the cool body, and there's still a lot of typecasting going on."

    "The truth is that we do celebrities and models," Glamour's Zalis admits, "but I do think we're going in the direction of having women who are more representative of our readership."

    Hip-hop culture has collided with mainstream consumer culture, and it's too soon to say what will result from the ensuing mash-up between booty and breasts, body empowerment and sexual objectification, realism and idealism. In the short term, however, women with booty to spare can enjoy their moment with a dose of cautious optimism.

    "There was a time when media didn't advertise to African American women the way they do now," Blackmon says. "Maybe it'll learn to appeal to women's self-esteem and not their insecurity. I hope so, anyway. There are always these little moments where you think something different is happening, and then they disappear."

    E-mail Neva Chonin at [email protected].
     
  2. strawberry daiquiri

    strawberry daiquiri seagreen serenades

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    I'm going to have to give this trend a miss.. ;)
     
  3. StellaStarr

    StellaStarr New Member

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    I think people just blow the whole i have "curves" out of porportion.

    Over 90% of the poplulation is overweight and has "curves" Im naturally about a 4, i think ill skip this trend.
     
  4. strawberry daiquiri

    strawberry daiquiri seagreen serenades

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    :eek: Where do you live, McDonalds?
     
  5. clay

    clay New Member

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    Good article. But ( no pun intended), Many guys and women do like women with some "back side". I do. I also like a woman with great proportions. The garment industry is definatly going wherever the money is. Some companies like the one i used to made it a point to try and give Fashionable styling to women whos average size start at size 10 and goes up. Our low rise jean had a front rise of 9"- some of the things out there now have 5 inch rises. I say it is all good. I just hate when some women have to much back for those low rises and it spills over. Women should embrace their beauty no matter what size. Just care enough about yourself
    to look classy. Bigger or curvier women are going nowhere so i do not see this as a trend, it is here to stay.
     
  6. StellaStarr

    StellaStarr New Member

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    :eek: Where do you live, McDonalds? [/b][/quote]
    :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

    sry sry i think its like 60, i cant find the article but when i do ill post it.
     
  7. StellaStarr

    StellaStarr New Member

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    I agree with you, what i said made me seem like an ass.
     
  8. Dark Princess

    Dark Princess New Member

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    First paragraph:

    I really doubt Beyonce is thinking ...O no "physical fashion is growing closer to a realistic body type" I must do something, women can not feel good about themselves because of me !!! The industry is not that coordinated lol :D


    Second paragraph:

    Interesting, I've never thought about that, but sadly it's true.
     
  9. clay

    clay New Member

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    Stella,

    But some bigger women do blow their size out of proportion, ala those shows like Jerry Springer and the lot.
    If you ever watch those you really do some women who are living in a fantasy world of their own, way beyond the "big and beautiful" mind set. I hate it.
     
  10. StellaStarr

    StellaStarr New Member

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    OK good thats what i meant but i was afraid as coming off as a butthead.

    thanks clay for saying that now everyone will know what i meant.
     
  11. rayncloudx

    rayncloudx New Member

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    :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

    sry sry i think its like 60, i cant find the article but when i do ill post it.[/b][/quote]
    "Today, the typical American is overweight, according to the C.D.C., which estimates that 64 percent of American citizens are carrying too many pounds for their height." All This Progress Is Killing Us, Bite by Bite, New York Times, March 14, 2004
     
  12. purplelucrezia

    purplelucrezia New Member

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    I thought this was over... :yuk:
     
  13. Lena

    Lena etre soi-meme

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    i agree with Clay,
    as a designer i see 'curvy' women as more fun to dress,
    they are sexy and natural and somehow fresh after years of skeleton styles.

    i also agree that curves have always been there,
    but they get a 'legal' sign due to fashion's turn to a more
    'stress/guilt free', vintagy, '50s movie star kind of glam.

    think Sophia Lauren, Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot,
    they were real sexbombs and so fun to dress :p
     
  14. clay

    clay New Member

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    I still love Sophia :innocent:
     
  15. LadyIllusion

    LadyIllusion New Member

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    Its a good thing, because all women are beautiful regardless of size and shape ;)
     

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