Illustration: Hunter French
I can’t imagine life in a time when having a fat ass wasn’t desirable. The 2010s onward were a distinctly ass-centric era, marked by Kim Kardashian “breaking the internet” with her shelf of a butt, Nicki Minaj’s song “Anaconda,” and BBLs rising 77 percent in popularity to become the fastest-growing cosmetic procedure in the world. As a bit of a PAWG myself, I never doubted that my ass was something to feel fondly about. If anything, I often wished it was bigger.
But I also can’t imagine thinking, “Gosh, it’s nice that my butt is on trend right now, but it’s too bad I have these unseemly big breasts, too.” Boobs, particularly large ones, maintained their appeal through the ass era—despite claims that a focus on butts made boobs boring or passé.In 2016, the New York Post declared that “big boobs are over,” noting a trend toward smaller breast augmentations and a rise in breast reductions. As one doctor reported, around 40 percent of women coming in for breast-related surgeries requested a B-cup, something none of their patients had wanted just five years prior. “If you wear a size B, you can wear anything,” one woman told the Post. “It’s the perfect size. I can wear things that are low-cut and look sexy, not matronly. And if you do want to look bigger, you can just wear a push-up bra.” Smaller boobs have long been considered chic: Even as aesthetics have changed, the quintessential high fashion, runway model look has been a pair of A-cups on a tall, thin body. As such, a good deal of couture clothing is designed with smaller breasts in mind. There are plenty of ways to pull apart the class implications of this: One 2013 study from Malaysia found that men of higher socioeconomic status prefer smaller breasts, while men of lower socioeconomic status prefer large ones. Oddly enough, a study from the UK also found that hungry men were more likely to view large breasts as attractive than satiated men. YouTubers, podcasters, and other armchair dating experts have repeatedly used these studies to say that wealthy men prefer smaller breasts. And maybe that’s true! But if the one percent likes small boobs, the 99 percent definitely still loves ‘em big.
And recently, the New York Post and i-D suggested we are once again in a Big Naturals phase, thanks to a rise in cleavage-related fashions and augmentations. Unfortunately, that also means people have returned to pitting the two icons that are T&A against each other.
Our culture so often lacks nuance. Many of us seem incapable of appreciating the middle ground of an argument, seeing both sides of a debate, or even rejecting the need for a dichotomy in the first place. The question of whether someone is a boob guy or a butt guy has divided us for decades. Brother, why not both?In reality, most people, men and women alike, have long enjoyed the curves of a woman’s body. It’s a biological inclination: We perceive women with bigger breasts and bigger butts as being better able to support the development of new life, even if the science behind that isn’t all that concrete. In other words, regardless of what the media and fashion world might say, breasts and butts both transcend trends. Still, that doesn’t stop people from talking in this competitive context. In recent months, the Post (which I have apparently dubbed the main cultural barometer of this sort of thing) has been running story after tabloidy story about women getting kicked out of restaurants for having too much cleavage or how young women on TikTok are embracing their big boobs as part of the body positive movement.
In reality, our culture isn’t rigidly oscillating between an admiration between big boobs or big butts, making us now simply on one end of the spectrum. Rather, our tastes for boobs and butts have altogether expanded. Though Big Naturals routinely and rightly receive our praise, it’s not as though small boobs are wanting for any attention. Meanwhile, butts in general are popular. While it’s rumored that women like Kim Kardashian have gotten much of their ass-enhancing plastic surgery removed, I’m not sure this suggests asses are altogether out. Perhaps, like Big Naturals, it’s specifically natural asses that are in. On the website for Kim’s brand Skims, there are butts galore. Even on product listings for bras, an item that can be photographed without showing the lower body at all, fully bare butts in thongs are on display.In the end, if someone has a preference for boobs versus a preference for butts, trend reporting probably isn’t going to change that. Nobody is going to catch themselves admiring a big butt, recall an article claiming they’re no longer in style, and decide they don’t actually like what they’re seeing. Let us all for once drop this partisan nonsense. The beauty of breasts and butts goes beyond fashion, celebrity or social media. What’s so wrong with loving them and their sublime appeal both equally?
Perhaps, like Big Naturals, it’s specifically natural asses that are in.