I’m a history nerd. I majored in history in college and I enjoy gaining a historical perspective on the procedures I perform. This led me to ask the question, is the desire for larger buttocks, and society’s adulation of celebs with ample “junk in the trunk” a new trend, or does it pre-date surgical techniques such as the Brazilian Butt Lift? When did our fascination with bountiful butts start?
The desire for curves, for a generous derriere, is indeed not a new phenomenon. While Sir Mix-a-Lot’s infamous song “Baby Got Back” wasn’t written until 1992, artists have consistently expressed their appreciation for large buttocks dating back to the late 1st century, B.C. In Greek, the root word kalli means beautiful and pygian means buttocks. The statue of Aphrodite is also known as the Venus Callipyge, or Aphrodite Kallipygos, focusing the attention on the statue’s rounded glutes. Throughout history there is strong evidence of our fascination with large buttocks. In the early 20th century Havelock Ellis published Studies in the Psychology of Sex, in which he described the cultural sexual characteristics of the buttocks: Thus we find, among most of the peoples of Europe, Asia, and Africa, the chief continents of the world, that the large hips and buttocks of women are commonly regarded as an important feature of beauty. This secondary sexual character represents the most decided structural deviation of the feminine type from the masculine, a deviation demanded by the reproductive function of women, and in the admiration it arouses sexual selection is thus working in a line with natural selection.
Regardless of the reproductive implications of large buttocks in women, this ideal has a firm hold in contemporary culture as well. Art, television, movies, and music have frequent references to the attractiveness of a bountiful bum. Kim Kardashian is a worldwide household name who has never had a lead role in a film, never held a government office, never written a bestseller, and never sung a Grammy-winning song – she is famous because she is beautiful and she has a huge, attractive butt. If patients visit the plastic surgeon to discuss their derriere, Kim Kardashian’s name will be part of that conversation. The take home message is that society has adored women with big butts for centuries. Our appreciation for an ample derriere dates back to antiquity – it’s not a trend and it certainly didn’t start with the advent of the Brazilian Butt Lift. The good news is that for the first time in history plastic surgeons can safely transform a woman’s figure to resemble the Aphrodite and her kalli (beautiful) pygian (buttocks).
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