Happy Valentine’s Day! Now with more yoga booty

Inside: NSFW photos; Beauty standards and the marginalized; The Columbusing of big butts

This Valentine’s Day I’d like to write about something that’s on my mind more often than not: ladies’ butts.

I should warn you that there are images here that are not suitable for work. They also represent an ideal or aesthetic that’s unattainable to many or most people. I can dig it.

I’ll admit up front that every time I hear women in the social settings that I haunt describe, talk about, or post photos of their ideal men, and see how the guys they date are approximations of that ideal, I’m like, “Damn, yo.”

It gets to me. There is nothing I can do to be that even if I aspired to. That is the opposite of me. So I realize that some people might be put off by the images within. Beauty and sex appeal have many faces and forms, though, for what it’s worth. I hope this is somehow inspiring and inclusive and not offensive and alienating.

Alright. Enough equivocating. Let’s do this.

YOGA BOOTY DAILY

For reasons that I don’t care to explain I searched for yogabootydaily on Instagram. That user/hashtag didn’t exist but there were a number of yoga booty feeds or whatever you want to call them. I noticed two things immediately. No, that’s not what I mean.

  1. Most of the feeds haven’t been updated recently. Within a year or so.
  2. They were all photos of white women.

Here is what the internet thinks is beautiful. Here is what yoga — this ancient tradition from India blending discipline, rigor, and spirituality — has come to mean to western society. Lululemon pants and pert asses. I think yoga was invented by Jane Fonda or Susan Powter in the 1980s, if memory serves me.

Good god.

On one hand, the dubious value of objectification as glorification is worth discussing. On the other hand, Jeebus!

But you know. It still breaks my heart to see women of color (and by extension men of color of which I am one) marginalized. I know it’s common but what kind of person is only attracted to people of one racial identity? Or attracted to all but one? That would be in the DSM, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, if it were up to me.

How can there be so much discussion and deifying of shapely rears and completely ignoring… okay.

That would be like having a best golfers in history calendar with no white people.

Most famous samurai in history with no Japanese people.

ALIENATION

Look. I love women in yoga pants. It is often the highlight of my day and also the lowlight of my day. It’s like playing winning Lotto numbers then realizing that you weren’t allowed to play the game because you’re distantly related to a Lotto official.

“Look at the size of that check. So many zeroes in that number. The things I would do with that much money.”

“You know you’re never getting anywhere near that giant check, right.”

“Yeh, I know. I just want to look at it and daydream for a minute, though.”

But all of this mainstream (= majority culture = mainstream culture = white culture) new found infatuation with big butts and no brown or black women? That is so offensive. Meaghan Trainor is going to bring booty back? Back?? I get what she’s saying. I’m glad that we’re mainstream culturally accepting thickness, for lack of a better word, as appealing and not a flaw to be covered up or tolerated.

It’s kind of tone deaf. Not to pick on Trainor either; I like that song and the video. There have been a handful of magazines saying the same thing.

This whitewashing of culture. Coveting the celebrated traits of other cultures and ethnicities — momentarily wearing it as a physical ideal like an in-fashion purse — while marginalizing those same people. Even the fact that the word “booty” is now the nom de guerre — I don’t know. It’s like a cutesy, dimple cheeked (no pun intended) naughty-flirty connotation. I don’t want to read too much into it but there’s something in there worth unpacking. I don’t have the words for it yet.

Then again, it’s not an improvement to include black and brown women on these creepy social media feeds. There are a lot of creeper shots of women’s asses as they unwittingly go about their daily business in tights and yoga pants. That is not cool or acceptable. Even if it’s legal it’s still a violation of someone’s space, in my opinion.

PREPARE TO BE BOARDED

I want to reclaim the beauty standard. Well, reclaim isn’t the right word because that implies that there was some inclusion to begin with. I want to commandeer the beauty standard, America. World. You’re on notice. The good news is that no one has to walk the plank when the rest of us board.

I don’t want people to not be proud of their bodies. Be proud, take care of it, love it, accept it, improve it, accentuate it with your fashion choice. If the notion of modesty is important to you then … well, good luck finding fashionable clothing that isn’t revealing. Work toward your goals. Show off your strengths. Y’know. That’s a message for everyone.

C’mon, though.

For every beauty pageant in South America with no women whose complexion is darker than peanut butter. For every article about how butts are in or big lips are in when Jennifer Lopez, Angelina Jolie, Ziggy Azalea, Coco, Kim Kardashian hit the mainstream while articles pop up about why black women are inherently and genetically less attractive than other women. (Okay, just one but someone had the nerve to write it and someone else had the nerve to publish it and it’s a message you hear on social media on the regular.) For every black actress or model who is described as “less classically beautiful”. For every ignorant social media comment and the greater-than-the-sum-of-their-parts effect of being bombarded with messages of hate and inferiority.

I mean, seriously. I saw this on Tumblr. It kind of says it all.

Fast fact about Brazil
http://jessehimself.tumblr.com/post/108530388108/fast-fact-about-brazil

Brazil has the world’s second biggest black population after Nigeria, the largest number of people of Japanese ancestry outside Japan, and more people of Lebanese or Syrian extraction than the combined populations of Lebanon and Syria.

And yet people still think Gisele Bundchen is the poster child of what Brazilians look like.
Y’all should follow brasilofcolor

Please understand that I’m not tearing down anyone to build up someone else. This is not an anti-anything screed. This isn’t a chauvinist rant about anyone being collectively more or less attractive. Beauty is beauty. Yes, I’m talking about certain hyperbolic standards of beauty for the sake of this discussion. For sure.

In light of that, after you’ve feasted your eyes on the images above, please take note. You’ve been neglectful, western world. Behold these photos from mentalphotoz. Unapologetically curvy. You can see his uncensored work here: http://themental1.tumblr.com/

MY SHOTS

Wait. Why am I posting other people’s photos when I’ve photographed models? Stunning. Thanks to the DMV Photography group for the opportunity to photograph these talented, disarmingly stunning models. They’re also great to work with.

Are you telling me these women aren’t drop dead gorgeous? Shouldn’t they be gracing magazine covers, too?

Note: I don’t only photograph African American or Caribbean American models but I’m making a point in this blog post. Not trying to exclude any of the other beautiful, talented, hard working models I’ve had the pleasure to work with. You also rock and I’ll share those photos in a future post.

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