Today’s “um, what?” comes to you from the New York Times, an institution that is always 10 years behind cultural trends:
The rear is fast becoming the erogenous zone of choice in America, vying for eminence with breasts, abs, legs or, for those of us who came of age in the early ’90s, Linda Hamilton’s sinewy arms in Terminator 2. Captivating back-end views of amply endowed personalities have stirred the popular imagination, prompting many women, it would seem, to chase after gawk-worthy curves of their own. Not that this is exactly new. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Jessica Biel, Rihanna, Serena Williams, Pippa Middleton and Beyoncé (who, on her tour that just ended, wore a bodysuit with the tush cutout) have all been praised for their behinds. But perhaps no one has been more celebrated than Jennifer Lopez, whose buttocks were called “in and of themselves, a cultural icon” in Vanity Fair.
This piece, of course, follows Vanity Fair‘s “um, what?” piece, “We’re Officially in the Era of the Big Booty,” which celebrated the milestone by … talking about Jennifer Lopez’s new video with Iggy Azalea. And a Kim Kardashian reference. Can’t forget about her.
I love that, in these conversations about ass, it all begins with Jennifer Lopez. Like, J. Lo. is the Osiris of this shit. It’s almost as if there were no other women before her. Except there were. Many of them. Spanning generations, even. Josephine Baker. Eartha Kitt. Pam Grier. Janet Jackson. Queen Latifah. Mya. But, much like Chris Columbus and world exploration, Elvis Presley and rock and roll, Eminem and hip hop … it ain’t cool until a non-black person does it. Yes, we’ve talked about cultural appropriation before. A lot. Yes, I know you’re sick of it. I’m sick of talking about it myself. But when we talk about body image and erasure and what it means to not see yourself reflected in mainstream media, when we discuss the negative impact of it and are still bombarded with stuff like this, well, I get a little stabby. Because it always comes back to the white man’s ice being colder.
All you can do is laugh, really.