Many of you saw our Perception of Beauty video as we touched on the mainstream cultural acceptance of more curvy and exotic women. The names J. Lo and Kim Kardashian came up a bit in being a part of the rising trend because as we all know there were times where the “booty” was not a cool thing, it was a “black” thing. With a culture that readily adds traditional ethnic features to other ethnicities is there an underlying issue not being addressed in America? Take a look at the article below and let us know if this is insightful or is the writer looking into something way too deep?
Bootylicious Filter: Butts, Photoshop, and Digital Appropriation of the Black Female Body via For Harriet
Ten years ago, Adobe premiered the first modernized version of what we now call “photoshop”. Its Creative Suite package included software that allowed for a state-of-the-art experience in digital creation and editing, from fashion photography to newspaper design. In 2013, after countless updates and improvements to the software, it continues to reign supreme. Industry professionals and leisure users utilize it for a wide variety of things—including the exaggerated enhancement of butts, particularly on non-Black women.
In fact, this practice has gotten so common that a Twitter account—which has since stopped “operations”—was developed for sheer purposes of identifying posteriors enhanced by photoshop.
At first glance, it might not seem troubling. Cosmetic enhancement, or the image of it—whether through invasive surgery, teenage bras stuffed with socks, or enlarged breasts by way of photo-editing software—is not a new phenomenon. From Chinese foot-binding to Victorian waist-training, women have been modifying their bodies in the name of vanity for centuries. However, the affixation of big, round behinds to pictures of non-Black women—when linked to historical contexts—means something deeper. It’s not just a male chauvinist tactic. It signifies further commodification of the Black body and a new kind of appropriation exclusive to a technologically advanced society.
Contrary to what Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian would have many think, the big butt was not always admired. When compared with blond hair and blue eyes, it still isn’t admired for the same reasons. Instead, it was othered. Since Sarah Baartman’s involuntary participation in 19th century European freak shows, and even before, the Black female body has served as a site of sexual lechery. In artistic depictions of the Black female body, the breasts are large and supple; the waist is small, leading to round, exaggerated hips and perfectly globular buttocks. Large butts meant open, available access to an exotic, primitive, sexually deviant experience. Some would argue that it still does.
Though I wouldn’t go as far as calling non-Black urban models Sarah Baartman, because they have agency, these women are positioned in the photographs for a certain type of consumption. But if you remove the Black woman—Black skin, Black hair, and other Black features—from this body, does the butt mean the same thing? When butts are photoshopped onto racy photos of non-Black women, are they still tools of hypersexualization or does fair skin, straighter hair, and lighter eyes counteract it for a “perfect woman” effect?
This is where photoshop and commodification hop into the conversation and muddy the waters. In a funny, but telling comment, Tina Fey remarked:
But I think the first real change in women’s body image came when JLo turned it butt-style. That was the first time that having a large-scale situation in the back was part of mainstream American beauty. Girls wanted butts now. Men were free to admit that they had always enjoyed them. And then, what felt like moments later, boom—Beyoncé brought the leg meat. A back porch and thick muscular legs were now widely admired. And from that day forward, women embraced their diversity and realized that all shapes and sizes are beautiful.
Ah ha ha. No. I’m totally messing with you. All Beyonce and JLo have done is add to the laundry list of attributes women must have to qualify as beautiful.
Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits.
The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.
Of all things to take from the Black female body aesthetic, a photo editor’s decision to use the butt speaks… [Read Full Article HERE]