Big booty, bass, and buns, hun. Everywhere you look in pop music there’s a woman shaking her derriere, maybe or maybe not in her House of Deréon. From J.Lo’s “Big Booty,” to Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda,” Meghan Trainor’s inexplicable hit “All About That Bass” and Iggy Azalea in general, the female body part du jour is the buttocks. The same part, may I remind you, that poop comes out of.
Women really can’t win: even when “positive” body image notions like curvaceousness become chic, these are still idealized to the nth degree. No matter what, the everywoman is still left feeling subpar, and the tyranny of the male sexual imagination (which really isn’t all that complex or even interesting) continues to dictate what is “desirable.” Women in pop are now lambasting “skinny bitches” and backing into their music videos like the delivery trucks at a Boar’s Head factory—that is to say, they’re still offering themselves up as hunks of meat to the sleazy guys at the bodega.
Being no longer in my early or even middle 20s, I can hardly keep up with the dominant trends for the female form as dictated by popular culture. I’m still trying to get my cleavage just right, which I guess by now must be late-00s-passé. While it would be nice if parts of women’s bodies weren’t considered fashion trends, and indeed if I didn’t write things like “boobs are like, so passé,” this is the world we’ve created for ourselves, and now we must live in it. Ideally, women aren’t objectified, but in a truly utopian world both women and men are EQUALLY objectified, and each individual is considered beautiful for what they have, whether it’s skinny or fat, under the hood or in the trunk.
Due to the rise in gluteal popularity, mammaries have all but disappeared from music videos in the past year, leaving traditionalists and flat ass-ed, big titted women wondering where we went wrong. And even as a self-identifying feminist, I’m scratching my head over this sudden and all consuming rump fixation in pop music. With ass-mania reaching fever pitch, I’m going in search of the now seemingly elusive breast.
This might come as a shock to most, but when you sit down and watch all the biggest female pop stars’ video releases from this year, Katy Perry is far and beyond the least crudely sexualized. Her videos might be a little bit insane and at times culturally insensitive, but as far as gratuitous sexuality goes, Katy isn’t resting on the laurels of her lady bits to make compelling video content. Which is weird for a woman who built her career on faux-lesbianism and huge knockers. And substances flying out of said knockers (fireworks, whipped cream). I’m not going to lie: I’m vaguely impressed that she’s managed to reign in the titty bouncing to make some fun pop videos—which I’m afraid makes me sound like a slut shamer, but I’m not!
The boob factor in Katy’s videos is close to zero: although in her “Dark Horse” video there’s a little bit of moob (equality between the sexes! Just like I said!); in her “Birthday” her parody character “Goldie” has some comically saggy old lady breasts (if you find old age and alcoholism funny, I guess); and Katy’s own boobs only make the most cursory of outings in a pizza printed swimsuit in “This Is How We Do”. Katy’s not big on breast this year—but then she’s not really big on ass either—which makes her a definite anomaly in the pop landscape.
Shakira, Queen of Honest Hips, released “Can’t Remember To Forget You” this year, which is an ironic title for a song everyone forgot really quickly. Rihanna was in the video, and the two of them writhed in a soft core porn manner, with the camera panning across their bodies, focusing largely on their hips and booties. But there’s some blink and you’ll miss it cleavage, with the camera honing in on Shakira’s breasts—the one's she called "small and humble"—for a brief moment near the start of the video. The boobs, for the most part, are there in this video like backup dancers at a show: they’re always in the background and you can always turn your attention to them, but they’re not the reason you paid to see the concert. Still the video is predominantly butt-oriented, and why wouldn’t it be when you’re paying RiRi to cameo on your song?
Of all the music videos this the year, Rita Ora brings booby back for “Black Widow” with Iggy Azalea. Now, I’ve said this about Iggy Azalea and I’ll say it again: I think she needs to get better friends. If the video for “Problem” (in which she is made up to look hideous next to Ariana Grande) and now “Black Widow” are anything to go by, she’s got a lot of really good frenemies. “Black Widow” is a titty parade and Rita Ora’s are about to jump out of her onesie. The issue for Iggy is, she doesn’t have much of a bosom, and the video downplays the awesomeness of her ass so that Rita’s cleave can shine. Tsk, tsk, when will these ladies learn: there’s room enough for every unnecessarily and comically sexualized female body part in a music video.
When it comes to her music and videos, Taylor Swift basically does everything right, all the time. And for some reason I just always want to shout “10 points to Gryffindor!” at her. I feel like it would make her chortle, and then she would let me hold her cat Olivia Benson while she made up a special room for me in her apartment so I could sleep over, right next to the Karlie room. In her video for “Shake It Off” Taylor wonderfully proves, yet again, that she’s about 37 steps in front of everyone. No boobs or ass (although she does some scandalous upper body shimmying at the end—WITH A BOY!), just good old fashioned music video fun, and a bit of an irreverent poke at music video culture generally.
Beyoncé is credited with inventing the term “Bootylicious.” Whether she actually did or just ate the soul of the person who did in a ritual Illuminati sacrifice and then changed the Wikipedia entry herself we’ll never know, but I do wonder if in between all the soul imbibing and bathing in virgin blood she had a vision of the future in which an anally fixated dystopia arose out of the ashes of Britney and Xtina’s boring old midriffs. Inventing “Bootylicious” is like buying up web property in the dot com boom: just a really great investment for a future mono-culture. While Bey’s always self-proclaimed herself to be the leading big bootied pop star, she never neglects good cleavage either (or her turned out cherry, for that matter), I guess because when you’re Beyoncé, every part is perfect and should be gratuitously displayed at all times. In “Partition” not only does she shout out to her sister Monica Lewinksy (in possibly one of the most disappointing displays of woman-on-woman shaming in recent pop history), she gives boob, booty, and everything in between.
Nicki Minaj is the reigning Queen of Ass, much to the chagrin of Iggy Azalea and J.Lo (see below). However, Nicki Minaj is also the reigning Queen of Tit, with her cleavage a main point of focus in her thousands of Instagram selfies. So in “Anaconda,” a song that’s just about ass and its importance to mankind, Nicki gives as much front as she does back. God bless Nicki Minaj and her overwhelming confidence, and equal opportunity attitude towards female body parts. And Drake’s boner.
Again, like Nicki, J.Lo’s track “Booty” is about having a big booty, although compared to Miss Minaj, J.Lo shakes it like she just saw a spider up on it and she's frantically trying to get it off. Which is why she’s lucky she’s got that side boob eyeing the camera at every angle, because even though her heart’s in her ass, J.Lo’s butt is moving so erratically it looks like she’s being tasered. Her boobs on the other hand are WORKING. Proof that a classic almost nip-slip can be more rewarding than jumping on a bandwagon/trying to fight your rivals perfect fire with your kind of pissy fire.
Meghan Trainor infuriates me more than anyone will ever know, because bitchiness and female competitiveness masquerading as empowerment is the worst kind of pseudo-feminism, and probably why so many people still don’t take feminism seriously. I can only pray that Emma Watson has undone all the ugliness that Tranior unleashed into the world with her woman hating “All About That Bass." Come on Meghan—why you gotta be so rude? Anyway, we’re talking about breasts here, and for someone bragging about her curves and how crazy boys are about them, the girl’s not got much of a cleavage to back it up. If you’re going to tell us how much better than other women you are, you better at least be able to bring it. The only reason we don’t get mad at Beyoncé telling us to “bow down, bitches” is because she’s incredible in beauty, talent, intelligence, and just about everything else. Meghan Trainor, like her cleavage, is middling at best.
Kat has plenty of sage advice on Twitter like, "When you're too lazy to make a sandwich so you bite a piece of bread then quickly shove a bit of all the other ingredients into your mouth." Follow her - @kat_george