Booty queens: Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez.

Where have all the booties gone?

Celebrity culture seems to have abandoned the "healthy butt" trend.

Melissa Lafsky
November 3, 2006 7:04PM (UTC)

Ah, celebrities. They're never far from view, gazing from ubiquitous newsstands, inhabiting our subconscious minds with their dewy skin and perfect smiles, and, whether we like it or not, influencing our self-images. When icons like J.Lo and Beyonce hit the scene, it looked as though the craze for excessive thinness might have finally run its course -- if voluptuousness was celebrated by the mainstream media, maybe regular women could at last enjoy a second helping of dessert.

Now, as the New York Post reports, that voluptuousness is burning off like a low-cal protein bar. In a piece titled "Et tu Booty?" Post writer Mackenzie Dawson notes that as more and more actresses and singers drift toward malnourishment and career trajectories rise according to the number of ribs displayed by backless dresses (a look exemplified by, but not exclusive to, Nicole Richie), the trend toward abundant backsides is in its death throes. Beyonci and J. Lo themselves haven't become emaciated to follow the wave (though the former is visibly thinner), and Details magazine rather dubiously noted earlier this year that some curvy women still thrive in Hollywood. But the celebrity-rag spotlight has simply turned from ample curves to gaunt images of predominantly white starlets like Kate Bosworth and Keira Knightly.


This time, however, the female populace isn't ready to go gently into stomach-growling nights. Dawson quotes professional women getting uppity about the thin trend: "I am so exhausted by the enthusiastically skeletal teen queens who stagger around Hollywood proclaiming 95 pounds to be their 'natural' body weight," said one, while another opined that "men will always choose the Monica Belluccis, Scarlett Johanssons and Salma Hayeks over the Kate Bosworths of the world." Another expresses outrage that celebrity culture "pay[s] lip service to 'embracing individuality'" but then devotes attention to ritualistic starvation. And rightfully so; after all that adoration of celebrity curves and touting of "healthy" body images, we're right back to where we started, with Hollywood starlets passing out in public and insisting that they're simply "overtired" while struggling to hide protruding collarbones.

Blame for the current trend can't rest on the stars alone; the media is capitalizing on corpselike actresses with unabashed glee. Celebrity weeklies like Star and Us Weekly run regular features like "Star Bodies: Too Thin?" and set newsstand sales records with cover stories such as "Nicole Seeks Treatment." The eventual result? Normalization of the idea that having an eating disorder will get you desirable attention -- not exactly an ideal message for young women still developing their own body images. Studies show that girls remain as susceptible as ever to cultural beauty standards, and feel tremendous pressure to meet them. It's doubtful that the booty backlash is helping to ease their minds.

Melissa Lafsky

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