How to break the internet

Society’s idealized standard of female beauty is impossible to live up to

Yejean Kim

I think it’s pretty safe to say we live in a society obsessed with posteriors. Actually, I should amend that. We currently live in a society obsessed with women’s posteriors.

Although objectifying women as a collection of body parts rather than human beings is nothing new, the internet’s current obsession with butts seems a new, stronger strain of this cultural virus.

To dissect this new trend, one must go back to that era that everyone wishes they never took pictures during: the early 2000s. Think back, however reluctantly, to that nightmarish landscape of velour tracksuits, Paris Hilton and MySpace (all insidiously correlated). In this era, Jennifer Lopez, after a fizzy start in acting and music in the nineties, hit it big with the album J. Lo and the film The Wedding Planner. While such a heinous combination brings chills to the spine now, back then the two were number one in the same week. This signaled the entrance of the big booty into the mainstream; J. Lo had officially crossed over from the Latin market.

Nowadays, the phenomenon of the female performer with the big butt has extended beyond musicians. Beyonce, Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea have been joined by reality television’s rear-end representative, perhaps the most famous of them all: Kim Kardashian.

Anyone who has a Facebook has been inundated with links of Kim Kardashian’s recent Paper cover, on which her oil-slicked butt is extending out of a gown with the caption: “Break the Internet.” If this cover is any indication, more than just the internet is broken.

My objection to the obsession with big butts is this: it creates yet another unrealistic facet of female beauty to live up to. As the immortal Tina Fey put it in her book Bossypants: “Every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits.” She then goes on to say that Kardashian is “The person closest to actually achieving this look…[she], as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.”

However jocular this reference is, it’s true that part of Kardashian’s brand is her perceived flawlessness, which funnels out, whether you like it or not, to a larger societal expectation. Now all the girls who emulate her—and let’s be honest, there are a lot—can add this to the laundry list of unrealistic expectations they face. The butt standard is particularly pernicious because you can’t really achieve it unless you’re born with it; at least other standards—although still awful—are somewhat attainable through other means. If this butt obsession continues, I might break the internet.