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Sunday, May 02, 2010

What Women's Butts Really Look Like

There has been a lot of discussion of whether Britney Spears's recent release of untouched versions of images of her half-naked body just is another case of "bourgeois body image feminism" and not the worthwhile struggle for "real gender equality".

But c'mon, you gotta give Britney credit for exposing her behind like this with cellulite and everything. Most women look like the gal on the right, not the gal on the left. The one on the left is the result of heavy photoshop brushing, not the real thing. Dream on guys.

Or better: stop dreaming. If you really want someone who looks like the girl on the left, you probably have pedophile tendencies cuz that's how a 10-year-old looks. Once the teen hormones kick in, fat cells naturally get filled, and they don't get filled evenly. Or maybe you should join an association for anorexic girls. If you are lucky, sick starving girls might look like that too (HT: Feminist Philosophers).


jeff dauer said...

Hi Brit,
I can hear the 20 year old male argument already and it probably would go something like this..."Well we are influenced by the media's bombardment of images that are photoshopped to look like mid to late teenage girls with huge breasts. We are conditioned to think that 'look' is sexy."

Is there a chicken or the egg question here that needs to be answered regarding male desires and the media's portrayal of what is sexy? I don't think that the photo on the left would have been considered sexy in the marilyn monroe days.

At any rate, this stuff really creeps me out and it should creep any parent out!

Anonymous said...

I agree that right-Britney is far more attractive than left-Britney--largely because she doesn't look like an underfed child.

Jeff: I hope you're just as creeped out about men with six-pack abs. Do you know what goes into a six-pack? It has to be less than ten calories per pound of body mass, since you need to eliminate the fat deposits in your belly (as men, that's usually one of the last and hardest place from which to cut fat).

In other words, starvation cuts both ways.

I should say that I recently spent a fair bit of time with my teenaged (younger) half-sisters, and was quite alarmed to hear that their standard insult was to call anyone and anything "fat" (also "gay," but that's a different kettle of fish). Never mind that nobody involved was fat by any standards: the insult is (was) calculated to prey on insecurity. The victim knows it's nonchalant and meaningless, and yet it feeds nagging doubts.

jeff dauer said...

I'm creeped out by the whole thing.

Brit Brogaard said...

Jeff: You're right that the pop media, to a large extent, are responsible for guys thinking girls look this way ("the true 10s" to speak with the guys).

Anonymous: True! Starvation cuts both ways. And yeah, a couple of my students were talking today, pretty students by all means. They were talking about why they preferred online dating. The reason: "at least they wouldn't be judged by their looks on the first date"!

Anonymous said...

Brit: Anon here. Your students have an interesting take. I would have thought that the physical evaluative component comes in even *before* the first date when it comes to online dating!

Brit Brogaard said...

Anon: Of course, by "first date" they didn't mean "first face to face date" but rather "first date online".

Sure, online daters typically upload a picture to their profile. But the daters can choose to upload their best shot, and body shots are not standard. So, while there is a physical evaluative component to online dating, online daters are forced to get to know each other on a non-physical level before getting physical.

I think my younger students like this aspect of online dating, maybe partly due to their body image insecurities.

Alan said...

I guess I'm pretty naive--I knew that "stars" were Photoshopped and all, but this side-by-side is really revealing. And yes, if BS consented to this comparison, well, there is something to be said for that. What amazes me is that the PS is just so damn total in scope: her skin is darkened, her hair is blonding-on-blonde, and yes, her butt is downsized and shaped--but look what's done to her legs! The legs on the left must have lost a third of the total mass of the ones on the right! And I thought airbrushing was too much!

Brit Brogaard said...

Yeah, I noticed that too. They completely cut off her leg muscles. Her waist and tummy also seem smaller in the left picture.

Anonymous said...

Hello, this is Bernard Bilious,
I assume on the right is Britney after bearing children---so this is normal------and real. But I have definitely seen women Britney's age with very firm, tight and lithe bodies. I see them only at the gym for hours on the stairmaster. Unless a woman is genetically predisposed to slender
or obsessed with the gym then Britney on the right is reality.
Speaking as a man I would say that both versions are attractive for different reasons.

Brit Brogaard said...

Hi Bernard, I highly doubt that you have seen anyone older than 20 looking like the woman on the left. Bearing children doesn't necessary change the appearance of women's butts. Teen hormones do.

Anonymous said...

If a man likes 20 (or 16) year old girls, that makes him a pedophile? If so, you're saying that virtually every human society that we know of was pedophilic. A woman at 20 (or 17) is in her reproductive prime. At 26 even, conception is a bit harder and a bit riskier. Men are sexually attracted to signs of health and reproductive potential. The reason is evolutionary, and has nothing to do with "the media". There was never a time at which men liked cellulite or preferred the typical body of a 40 year old woman to the body of young, healthy woman (or girl).

Are you saying that if a man prefers youthful features to cellulite and saggy boobs there's something wrong with him, simply because lots of women have these less attractive traits? This is like saying that, since most people are intellectual mediocrities, we should stop valuing the works of Plato over those of Rush Limbaugh. Ideals don't exist for the purpose of making ordinary or unimpressive people feel perfect.

Brit Brogaard said...

What I said was this: "If you really want someone who looks like the girl on the left, you probably have pedophile tendencies cuz that's how a 10-year-old looks". So, yes, if a man likes 10 year-old girls, that makes him a pedophile.

My point was that the girl on the left is made to like a child, not a 20-year old. That's not to say that no 20-year old, or 40-year old for that matter, looks like the girl on the left, but only that most don't.

Stephen Anastasi said...

Naturalism or naturism? :)
I know many women between 40 and 50 who have the smoother figure. I know plenty who are not this way. But as for which is attractive is wholly subjective and 'who is to blame' presumes that there is a problem in the first place, which assumes that someone's view has the ascendancy. Pyrrho would say that neither has. That said, if there is beauty (Plato) I find neither of these girls beautiful. Britney...ugh.
Maybe if I saw her shadow against the wall of a cave? Nah. I'm dreaming. I'll stick to Cartesian Rationalism, where the girls might be automatons (Descartes).

Tim said...

Dear Brit,

As a novice to language studies, I assume this is a question of lexical semantics: Is the term "butts" properly applied to females? I have it on good authority that only a male has a "butt" or "ass," or in British English, "arse" or "bum." The corresponding part of a lady's anatomy is a "bottom." Please advise.


Brit Brogaard said...

Dear Tim,
I would not say this is a question of lexical semantics. But your concern is a valid one. If you do a Google search on "women's butts" (remember the quotation marks), 67,800 results show up. I take this to be good evidence that "butt" can be used to refer to that part of a woman's anatomy others might prefer to call "bottom".

jason stewart said...

Are you this insecure? There are women in their 50s who don't have cellulite. Grow up and stop blaming everyone else for your insecurities.

Brandon Webb said...

The influence of cultural images, in this case pop culture, involving social perceptions of beauty and attractiveness is an important issue. Images of this nature (Brittany Spears and other celebrities, for example) often leave people with a distorted perception of beauty and attractiveness. In the case of female images it not only influences how males view females but also affects how females view themselves in relation to other females.

This is as much an issue for males. Images of males influence female views of male beauty and attractiveness and in comparison to other males. In too many instances, it can have a negative impact.