My butt is living its own life; I am merely its carrier. Yes, I am a person and my butt is part of me, but if you knew my butt, you would know that it merits its own life story. So here it is. In 1983, my butt was born, attached to me. It was, in many ways, a butt like many other butts, but over time it grew and grew, bigger and more rotund than the rest of me, and with the consistency of uncooked sourdough. In 1999, a relative pointed at my butt and said, “You mustn’t feel the cold.” I assured her that I did. This prompted a conversation between my family members about the ethnicity of my butt. “It’s because she’s Italian,” someone said. “It’s a wog butt.” Someone else agreed: “It’s a Botticelli butt.” My arse, it seemed, had time travelled.
I felt ashamed of my butt, its magnitude and its squishiness. I didn’t want to be known as The Girl With The Giant Butt. I didn’t want a butt so big it needed to be discussed, broken down and “unpacked” culturally. I wanted to be butt-less. But mine was not a butt to be shrunk. Yes, weight loss would reduce its overall mass (I undertook extreme measures for over a decade in order to achieve this), but no matter what my weight, my butt remained proud, round and juicy.
Perhaps you are thinking that this would be an asset in life – a butt that demands some level of attention. Yet I cannot recall this ever being the case. In 2007, I advanced quickly in broadcasting at a community radio station, much to the chagrin of my then boyfriend, who had similar ambitions. He deemed that he had been passed over in favour of me. All I had to do, he claimed, was “shake my caboose” at the program manager, and a small-time broadcasting gig was mine. To think that a mighty butt would get me further in the medium of radio bewildered me. As I reminded my then boyfriend: “The listeners can’t see my caboose.” But more to the point, I felt hurt. My achievements weren’t mine; they were my butt’s.
In 2012, my butt became a talking point among my housemates. “Have you seen it?” one person said sotto voce to another, as though they were discussing a government secret. I later discovered that the fellow I was dating was reporting back to my housemates about notable arse sightings. Partly flattered, partly horrified, I distanced myself from the group and their gaze. After all, I needed to be at ease in my home environment, and the communal objectification of my butt – critical, desirous or otherwise – made me feel like a zoo animal.
I have recently abandoned my quest to reduce the size of my butt, since reducing it by any measure requires that I undernourish myself, and this (I now realise) is absurd. Further, to loathe a body part, to be convinced that it is just too problematic to be in the world, is exhausting – and cruel. There is a villain in my butt’s life story, and I’m afraid that villain is me. Yes, I have resolved at various times to embrace my butt, but these times have always been short-lived, quickly replaced by a new and continuous stream of butt-centric criticism.
I choose to love my butt. I make this choice daily. This morning, standing pant-less in front of my mirror, I prodded my butt with a finger and watched a ripple run through it. One could skip a stone over my butt, I observed. No wonder Botticelli painted ones just like it.
This article first appeared in frankie magazine issue 76 (Mar/Apr 2017).