Throughout the late ’90s and early 2000s, Jennifer Lopez was an enigma in a world of stick-skinny models and actresses, causing critics and the public alike to gawk like she was some sort of mystical creature whose shapely derriere was a thing of wonder. But somewhere around the mid-Aughts, ultra-thin became the norm in Hollywood again, and it seemed that J.Lo’s booty went the way of Juicy tracksuits. However, in 2007 a girl named Kim Kardashian appeared on the scene, and the topic of celebrity butts was once again at the forefront.
Now, seven years later, it’s at an all-time high, with everyone in Hollywood tripping over themselves to prove that they have the biggest, roundest, sexiest ass. Even J.Lo’s back on the butt train, trying semi-desperately to steal back her title, having launched a not-subtle single called “Booty,” and promoted it with—what else?—a photo of her own backside.
And while we’re loathe to give Kardashian credit for spurring copycats, it doesn’t feel like a coincidence that the butt obsession sweeping Hollywood is synonymous with the reality star’s fame hitting a fever pitch. And it’s not just famous women embracing the trend: There’s been an 80% rise in butt implants from 2000 to 2013, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, and the social media term “belfie” produces around 3 million results on Google, both things most experts agree is because of celebrities.
“2014 is the year of the curves, and women are embracing their full-figures,” said Dr. Matthew Schulman, one of the country’s leading buttock augmentation surgeons. “Women want fuller and rounder butts, and wider hips. Credit can be given to Kim Kardashian, Sophia Vergara, J.Lo, and Nicki Minaj,” he said, adding: “Also, as we become more of a cultural and ethnic melting pot, the body curves that are idealized in other countries and now being embraced here in the United States.”
Dr. Schulman admits that five years ago, butt augmentation was a highly rare request. Today? He sees 15 women daily requesting larger backsides and hips, whether via $8,000 synthetic implants, or $10,000 to $13,000 Brazilian Butt Lifts—his method of choice, which uses both liposuction and a woman’s own fat to create slimmer waists and abs, and larger hips and butts. “Most [women who request these procedures] have figures that are considered normal, but they want to be even bigger, oftentimes extreme,” he said.
Kardashian has always been associated with her ample butt, sure, but wasn’t until October—when she posted a shocking photo of herself from behind in a white bathing suit—that things really took a turn. The photo—which we learned was orchestrated by Kanye West—went insanely viral, causing feelings of shock, discomfort, and awe. Before then, Kim posted other revealing photos to Instagram—”serous” bikini outtakes from various campaigns, for example—but nothing so blatantly sex-charged, intimate, and almost pornographic in nature (something Kanye clearly approves of—he’s an admitted porn enthusiast.) That post got over a million likes.
From there, we started to see a seemingly endless array of varied celebrities— J.Lo, Lea Michele, Kelly Osbourne, Heidi Klum, Rumer Willis, Lady Gaga, and—of course—Nicki Minaj not only embrace their derrieres, but post provocative, highly gratuitous photos to social media. Even the cover of this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue featured three models from behind—a vast departure from past editions, where it was all boobs and abs.
While it’s unlikely that all these stars are aiming to emulate Kim’s butt itself, there’s no denying that they’re aware of the viral effect that comes from choosing to share a photo of a body part that’s normally quite personal and always covered.
“A celebrity butt photo will go viral within seconds, making this an instant communication tool for celebrities to reach the media and their fans,” said Kristi McComick, a casting director, branding expert, and founder of agency Matchbook Company. “Celebrities get the message that if they post personal photos online, headline news and feature coverage follows. Even better if they are promoting a film, album, or Selfie book.”
To wit: In October 2013, Lady Gaga posted a photo that showed a close-up of her butt in a thong to promote her single “Do What U Want” on Twitter. Clearly, the shock value worked: The photo was retweeted over 18,000 times.
Minaj followed that lead while promoting her song “Anaconda.” Last month, she released the single art, which featured the rapper showing off a cartoonishly large rear, which got everybody talking. By the time she debuted the video last week, the public was eager to see how it could have possibly trumped the raunchy teaser.
Obviously, shapely women have been around before Kim Kardashian—as has the idea of using sex to sell something—but it’s hard to argue with the idea that she’s largely responsible for the recent butt boom sweeping the world. Check out just a few examples below, and let us know your thoughts.
In October 2013, Lady Gaga used this photo to promote her single “Do What U Want” on Twitter. It was retweeted over 18,000 times.
Jennifer Lopez promoted her new single “Booty” by posting this shot to Instagram.
Sports Illustrated covers usually show toned tummys and big boobs. this year, they opted for only showing the model’s backsides.
Aubrey O’Day seems to be emulating Kardashian
Nicki Minaj promoted Anaconda using nothing but her naked ass. Spawned a gazillion parodies, from Hannah Montana to Marge Simpson.
Behold, our symbol of freedom.
Rumer Willis posted this gem.
Iggy Azalea is fast becoming known for her very of-the-moment body—a tiny waist, flat stomach, and ample hips and butt.