Many years of exhaustive, highly-sensitive research have led me to the following conclusion: I’m not crazy about my butt. In fact, it depresses me. If you saw my butt, I think you’d understand. I’m sure there are rear ends out there that are bigger than mine. But that’s beside the point. I’m a short person, hardly 5’2,” and my bottom belongs on someone taller. A bigger gal would know what to do with this butt. On me, it’s out of proportion. It sticks out, begging for attention. Everywhere I go, it hollers, “Check this baby out!” There must be a quieter way to go through life.
I’ve decided to make a trade: My butt for a smaller model. I’ve put an ad on craigslist. Best offer! So far, no takers. I’m willing to wait it out.
My butt obsession dates back to the age of 12. I blame my mother. It's all her fault. In a moment she would come to regret, she rendered judgment on my backside while hemming my navy blue wool skirt. For starters, wool is not the most flattering fabric. It’s heavy and vindictive. Wool is the enemy of big butts.
As I stood there, shifting impatiently from side to side, ignoring Mom’s pleas to “Stand still, honey, I don’t want to stick you with a pin,” the harsh reality of my newly emerging rump suddenly slapped her upside the head. Apparently, it was a biblical revelation, one she just couldn’t keep to herself:
MOM: Carol! You're getting a tushy!
ME: I am?
MOM: Oh, yes.
ME: Is that a good thing?
MOM: Well… of course. There’s nothing wrong with having a big tushy.
ME: So you're saying I'm fat.
MOM: You’re not fat. You’re just… becoming a woman.
(TRANSLATION: A WOMAN WITH A GIANT ASS!)
Afraid my butt might get bigger, I started to watch the carbs. Bagels landed on the forbidden list, along with pastries and ice cream and all other tempting caloric items sold at my school. Even so, my butt did a number on my brain. I thought of it as separate entity in need of daily discipline. I talked to it every day while getting dressed. At the time, I happened to be balancing backwards on my bathtub, craning my neck to get a better look in my bathroom mirror.
Our conversation generally went like this:
ME: What is your problem?
MY BUTT: I’m not the problem, Missy, you are. And while we’reat it, lose the wool skirt. It isn’t helping.
I did as I was told. I worked hard to shrink my can. I did odd exercises I improvised out of fear. Every night after dinner, I’d scoot down the hall on my butt, shifting my hips from side to side, waving to my brother as I went past his door.
For my efforts, I got black and blue marks. But a smaller butt? No. That didn’t happen.
At least it didn’t get bigger. Not yet, anyway. It blossomed later, reaching full bloom during young womanhood, that stage my mom briefly alluded to during the infamous “skirt incident.”
From the standpoint of clothing, the ’70s were generally unkind to me. High-waisted slacks and bell bottoms only accentuated my bubble butt. Platform shoes did me no favors, either. I looked dumb in them. I fell down a lot. I twisted an ankle that still hasn’t healed.
Earth shoes? Don’t get me started.
The good news is that lately, J-Lo and Beyonce butts are very much the rage. Yes, fuller butts get kudos for their meatiness and oomph. I admit I never saw this day coming. It’s a welcome development. Even if the booties on the famous girls aren’t that big. They’re noticeable. And that’s a start.
I hold out hope that one day, skinny jeans will be extinct. Until then, the best advice I can give anyone in my situation is:
Always marry a man who takes you “ass is.”
Carol Starr Schneider is a writer living in California.