The year is 1992. I’m 15 years old and just starting high school. (Yeah, I’m old – wanna fight me?) Gracing the very top of the pop music charts is Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”, followed closely by Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back”, a misogynistic but kinda refreshing ode to women with junk in their trunk. At the time it was a welcome change to the messages that were crammed down our throats about how skinny we women were supposed to be, about how we were supposed to be delicate flowers who did our strength training with Campbell’s soup cans (if at all) and spend most of our time dedicated to fitness doing step aerobics and dancercise with Paula Abdul. And my friends and I thought it was great – we shook our healthy butts along with Sir Mix-A-Lot at school dances jubilantly.
Then along came Jennifer Lopez in that green Versace dress that she wore to the 2000 Grammy awards which sent the world into a tailspin (see what I did there?). Wait, a gorgeous, healthy, fit woman flaunting a curvaceous behind? Inconceivable. Except that people – male AND female – loved it because it was awesome and shocking but at the same time kinda relatable. Here was an a-list celebrity rocking a revealing dress at a healthy weight. She showed us all that you didn’t have to be bone-rack skinny to look awesome and sexy…
Aaaand then the big-ass-torch was picked up by Kim Kardashian. Which was okay at first because here was a woman who wasn’t afraid to train hard, who did deadlifts and smashed battle ropes around and swung kettlebells. Not a soup can in sight in her fitness magazine features – that was my first exposure to Kim Kardashian, anyway, but you know, I live under a rock sometimes; the Kardashians aren’t really good role models for health and happiness. But I digress.
And now here we are: you can’t open up a search page or a social media platform or look for anything fitness related anywhere without getting bum-barded by images of celebs with giant cabooses, butt implants, butt workouts, and my personal favorite, hordes of (usually young) male trainers urging women to work their booty. I am pretty fed up with young dudes telling me what my butt should look like. Dear women of the world, standards have changed (again). In order to be attractive and desirable and to be a worthwhile human being, you must possess a giant round ass, complete with its own weather system and gravity field. You know what? Fuck the way fitness is marketed to women.
Can we all get over ourselves and think for a second about what those butts are actually for? The glute muscles specifically, I mean – I don’t think we need to get into a discussion about what happens between those cheeks unless we need to have a chat about your fibre intake. I’m always down for poop talk and if it’s an issue I can probably help…but that’s for another post.
Alright, there’s your butt. The gluteal muscles are the biggest and most powerful group of muscles in your body, and any time you move your hips, your glutes are working. Walking, running, cycling and basically any form of locomotion where you aren’t sitting still uses your glutes, but you can dig in a little deeper and work those muscles by doing squats, deadlifts, lunges, hip thrusts, bridges, etc. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention here the awesome work done by Bret Contreras and his team at the Glute Lab – they’ve produced lots of good quality literature on the subject of glute and posterior chain training for all human beings. See? I’m not against glute training on principle.
But let’s go back to talking about vapid patronizing crap. As far as I’m concerned, ain’t no dudes gonna tell this old woman, or any woman around me, what they should be doing to make their butts look better. I don’t ever actually SEE my butt so why on earth should I give a fornicating ferret whether or not my backside gives the people behind me a hard on? Is that a reason to work out? Give me a break. Here’s what I care about: I care about what my butt can DO. I have endless (and hella boring, if you ask my husband) videos of weightlifting and powerlifting on my Instagram feed because I care about being STRONG. Don’t get me wrong, I am not for a moment suggesting that glute training is a bad thing; a strong posterior chain is awesome and fun and absolutely necessary if you want to, you know, live life and do fun things.
So WHY does the current crop of booty boosting bullshit piss me off so goddamn much?
- Because it’s “functional fitness” – it’s packaged up to look like endless glute bridges and hip thrusts and frog pumps are actually in our best interests, when really it’s just wanking fodder for the dudes that are marketing it.
- Because it seems as though the world has largely forgotten that it’s good to have strong muscles over the rest of our bodies too – but you can’t have that. No effin’ way: if a woman dares to have muscles anywhere else on her body – think, you know, a wide lat spread or big pumpkin-y deltoids or chesticles that could crush stuff, the self-righteous cries of “gross!,” “she looks like a dude,” “Steroids,” etc, etc go echoing through social media like the howls of the damned.
- Because you can’t “boost” your booty; those glute bulges are mostly muscle and they don’t actually travel. News flash: butts are not tits. You can’t tack them up or shove them into molded cups and change their shape. You can’t LIFT them or BOOST them or make them sit any higher without surgery and even then, why would you want to? You’d leave yourself weak and vulnerable and – face it – freakin’ weird looking. If your butt looks droopy because there’s a lot of fat there (and that is a fact of life for lots of us; our hips are one of the places that fat gets stored and really, you’re better off with excess fat there than just about anywhere else) you need to lose some fat. That happens globally with consistent calorie control; you can’t choose where it comes and goes from. Which leads me to number four…
- Because you can’t have a big round butt and be skinny everywhere else. I can’t even tell you how many conversations I’ve had with women who want to lose weight everywhere, but keep their butts as big (or get them bigger). We’re talking like high-school-age skinny, where ribs are showing where pecs and lats should be, but with a big round ass. Ladies, I PROMISE you that that kind of physique is nigh on impossible and also wouldn’t really be conducive to living life.
- Because booty development is marketed exclusively to women. I’m not kidding; do a quick google search for glute training right now and see what comes up: Female Fitness, Shape, Womens Health, Round Butt Rockin’ Body, butts butts butts. If ass training is that amazing, shouldn’t the guys be doing it too? The answer of course, is HELL YES they should – and the guys who are serious about strength training do include glute training in their programming. Here’s a secret: men and women have the same muscles in the same places. All I’m saying is that maybe, just maybe glute-specific training isn’t all it’s cracked (sic) up to be.
- Because butt training for women is packaged up and spoon fed to females in such a pat, patronizing way that it makes me want to #buttbarf all over anyone who chirpily suggests that I fire up that booty.
My point here is, homies, train your heinies to your heart’s content if you like that sort of thing. Train the rest of your bodies too, though, and enjoy all the cool things your body can do when you’re strong. Want a tight, perky butt? Stop sitting on it all the time and get up and do things. Live life – walk, run, jump, lift heavy stuff, throw things, climb, swim…Get too busy doing cool things to worry about whether or not your ass measures up.