Monday, April 25, 2016

Jennifer's Butt, Retrospectively: I looked at JLo's butt for feminism

In both the works of Beltran and Negron-Muntaner, authors posit the notion that Jennifer Lopez's praise for her big butt and those of other Latinas has the potential to overturn white hegemonic notions of beauty and ideal body image. Beltran argues that emphasis on Lopez's butt can be "empowering through asserting qualities such as intelligence, assertiveness, and power-while also proudly displaying her non-normative body and declaring it beautiful"(82). Beltran argues that this will help empower Latinas to embrace their own bodies while simultaneously noting that Lopez's ethnicity had been downplayed in the English speaking press in favor of discussions of her class status. 
Negron-Muntaner is more direct about the ties she perceives between body and ethnicity stating: 
Constantly speaking about big rumps in the American media is also a way to "lower" the discussion away from the self-importance granted to celebritydo(o)m and the upper stratum of breasts, straight noses, blonde hair, and (white) faces (187). 
Both scholars eschew and skirt around possible racist/racial implications of this body-centric empowerment. Negron-Muntaner says almost snidely: 

Of course, feminists and politically correct activists will complain that the exaltation of the big rear end is but another way of enslaving women to their bodies and linking Latinos to stereotypes of hypersexuality(189). 

However she is also quick to point out: 
Despite Jennifer's relative victory and the Latino community's growing demographics, the big Latino behind is far from sitting easy. Dominant culture still obsessively prohibits its display and punishes transgressors(187).
Retrospectively, the authors statements reflect current media contexts with varying degrees of correctness. While the mass media audience has accepted the Othered body as one of admiration, the fetishization of Victorian yesteryear (Beltran 81) persists. Non-white women's non-normative bodies are lauded for their beauty while simultaneously critiqued for their perceived hypersexuality. Simultaneously white women have profited enormously from Lopez's buttlicity of the 1990s. This celebration of Lopez's non-white and therefore excessive body has translated into a deracialized body positive movement.  
While women of color's curves are embraced as sexual, white female celebrities have been declared feminists for daring to break the mold of their previous waifish images. Examples of these celebrities include Amy Schumer and Jennifer Lawrence. These two women have been outspoken about their perceived "fatness" despite being a below average dress size. They have achieved this image by openly discussing their love of food and difficulties dressing for the red carpet. Media responses have been overwhelmingly positive and asexual, frequently lauding the women as feminists. 
Amy Schumer Just Pointed Out The Truth Behind Pop Culture's Ass Obsession
 If the innocence of white womanhood relies on the perpetuation of the racist myth that Black women are hypersexual (hooks Black Looks 160),  then white womanhood's ability to embrace fatness relies on the notion that white women are inherently thin and black women/non-white women are curvacious and therefore excessive.  White women's embrace of excess is viewed as rejecting their feminine waifishness and embracing the entitlement to occupy space that is related to masculinity. In contrast, Black/non-white women are viewed as inherently curvy/excessive and therefore their fat is seen as a reflection of a lack of self-control.

In Jennifer's Butt, Negron-Muntaner points out that "[a big butt] is a sign for the dark, incomprehensible excess of "Latino" and other African diaspora cultures. Excess of food(unrestrained), excess of shitting(dirty) and excess of sex(heathen) are its three vital signs" (189). So it is of note when Amy Schumer whom declared 2015 the year she was able to embrace her big butt because of the efforts of Black women like women like Nicki Minaj's positive reproductions, releases a video titled "Milk, Milk, Lemonade". The video features Black and Latina women shaking their butts in close ups while Schumer sings: 

On my booty empire, the sun never set 
Take a shot, yeah, nothin' but net 
Milk, milk, lemonade 
'Round the corner, fudge is made 
I'm gonna make you scream and shout 
For the part of my body where poo comes out

By pointing out the direct ass x shit relationship through depictions of Black women, including Amber Rose who is most widely known for her image and relationship with Kanye West, Schumer perpetuates a cultural disgust for the Black female body. Simultaneously, she profits from its historical contributions to acceptable depictions of the female/feminine body in media. Hence, she repeats the cycle of Black female production and white female profit. 


  1. all butt photos searched for in a crowded library fyi

  2. When this video came out, it was specifically met with praise from people like This person also says, "So next time you’re twerking to Janelle Monáe’s “Yoga,” or admiring J.Lo’s booty being drenched in water, remember: 'this is where her poop comes out'." Which is again equating songs by non-white woman about their bodies being criticized as "remember they are gross."

    You mentioned she's frequently admired for her feminism when it comes to her "fatness" this is currently happening after she came out against being called plus sized. She was also applauded for "taking control" of her body with the different recent photo shoots she has had.

    1. I had to reel in my brain because I could say a lot about the new #feministgirlclique.


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