This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
Almost every time I post an ass-centric photo to my Instagram account, I get more likes than any other photo on my feed. In the comments, strangers will leave emojis of peaches, or instruct me to mention them for re-posts and shout-outs. It's not a terribly surprising trend, given the simple workings of "putting it out there" on the internet. Yet, it still catches me off guard that there are people, many in fact, who are so tuned in, they are somehow alerted every time a stranger posts a flattering photo of her own ass.
Here's the thing about my ass: I am very fond of it. When butts started to overshadow breasts as the female body part that was socially acceptable to tirelessly flaunt, I rejoiced. Here was a social trend I could genuinely participate in. Unlike my boobs, my butt can fill several handfuls, and holds a similar consistency to those Serta mattresses onto which you can leave your handprint. Given how easy it was to attract attention on Instagram without even trying, I was curious to see if I could actually make my ass famous.
The logical step was to start an account exclusively for my ass, with the sole intention of getting as many followers as I could. There are countless accounts that feature cropped close-ups of underwear wedgied up butts, which sometimes attract up to a million followers. I didn't suspect it would be that hard for mine to catch on. Turns out, I had a lot to learn about the ins and outs of Instagram ass when it comes to policy, etiquette, and building a community.
#ass Doesn't Exist
When I started my account, I first tried to come up with a clever username. @Ass_Worship, @My_Ass, and @Worship_My_Ass were all taken. I settled on @My_Ass_My_Ass, which was awkward but the best I could do given the crowded market. Every morning, as I got dressed, I'd snap a shot in my bedroom or bathroom mirror, and directly post it to my account. Then I'd spend some time finding accounts with "ass" or "booty" in their name.
When I searched #ass in the hashtag search, nothing came up. That's because, according to Instagram, hashtag blocking targets terms that are typically used to attack users in a derogatory way. In a written statement a PR person from Instagram who didn't want to be named, said: "One of the signals we use to determine if a hashtag should be made unsearchable is if it's consistently associated with photos or videos that violate our policies." In other words, #ass has the potential to lead to uncomfortable, potentially unwanted attention.
On the third day of @My_Ass_My_Ass's existence, I tried to sign into my account, only to receive a notice telling me it violated terms of the Instagram community. This was strange, since I had only posted photos in my underwear or leggings. I sent off an email to their press person asking for an explanation, and then started another account, @thisasshere, as I didn't want to waste time.
A day after contacting Instragram, their PR guy sent me a short note, apologizing, saying my account was taken down in error. When I responded asking why, he didn't elaborate. It was too late, though. I had work to do. (After asking once more, he eventually responded saying that Instagram does make mistakes, as a result of getting hundreds of thousands of reports a week, and that they're always learning.)
Don't Repeat Yourself
My practice usually involved posting a photo of my butt in the mirror, then finding as many cropped ass accounts as possible that I could follow. Some of these included @Itsjustbooty and @Model_Booty, which will give you a shout-out for $5. I noticed many of the accounts specified if the administrator was male or female, and loads also advertised Kik and Snapchat accounts. A slew of accounts promoted themselves as adult hookup sites, or fitness inspiration. Many just flaunted ass, plain and simple.
For more on internet fame, read i-D's article "How to Become Tumblr Famous"
I started to like and comment on as many photos as I could. To save time, I tried to leave the same comment over and over again—the waving hand emoji, my go-to conversation starter—until I received a notice with the heading "Duplicate Comment."
"It looks like you already left this comment. Try posting a new one. We restrict certain content and actions to protect our community. Tell us if you think we made a mistake."
Instagram's community guidelines states that their intention is to "foster meaningful and genuine interactions." Help us stay spam-free by not artificially collecting likes, followers, or shares, posting repetitive comments or content, or repeatedly contacting people for commercial purposes without their consent.
Ugh. This was getting tiresome. While my thirst to garner acclaim for my ass wasn't exactly for commercial purposes (though I've always dreamed of making a butt-centric calendar), I realized I had to go about this organically. So I contacted Matt Werner, who runs the Butt Blog, for pointers.
A Space Where Spam Is Welcomed
The Butt Blog started a year ago and currently has 807,000 followers and counting. At first, Werner did it as a side project, but he's now building a website and finding ways to merchandize.
In the time his account has been active, Werner's managed to garner relationships with models and photographers with large followings. They'll tag one another and do share for share, a key move to building your butt on Instagram. Also popular, SFS or spam for spam, in which you like a bunch of photos on an account, so that they'll do the same in return. Apparently, this is how meaningful and genuine interactions are formed.
When I asked if, based on my dinky account, he'd be a doll and post my photo, he said sure, under one condition—that I pay him. Otherwise, my meek Instagram account, which currently has only 20 followers, would be considered hazardous to his brand.
"If I'm posting someone who has 100,000 followers, then people are going to look at the account as legit," he said.
His advice to me was to find someone else to take photos of my ass, ideally a professional, and if that wasn't possible, figure out my best angles. Also, the more skin shown the better.
It's been over a month since I started @ thisasshere, and my asspirations of being an asstagram star have diminished. I was worried that taking photos of the same undies would be redundant and got lazy and uninspired by my angles. Also, absorbing countless photos of plump butt cheeks was exhausting and—let's get real—sleazy. The competition is fierce out there, and there are hundreds of thousands of posteriors that are thirstier for attention than mine. Maybe it will eventually gain a cult following. But for now, I will retire my muse, cover it up, and keep it tucked away from my iPhone camera. At least until bikini season.
Follow Elianna Lev on Twitter.