Pippa’s Posterior And The Curvy, New Beauty Ideal

Pippa Middleton, seen by millions at the Royal Wedding, has made fashionable: a shapely bum. Inspired by the bridesmaid’s becoming backside,

The British bum that shook the planet (Duncan)

The British bum that shook the planet

Once, I started a fight with my best friend about her rear end. I thought hers was perfect: small, flat and taut. Like Paris Hilton‘s. My friend saw things differently: “My behind is flat all right — flat as in shapeless; it’s not feminine,’’ she complained. She would prefer to have a derrière like mine. I thought she was making fun of me. When arguments ran out, we got down to facts. We bared hindquarters and took pictures so we could compare. Result? Each one still thought the other had the better bum.

I have to tell you that my bottom is the exact opposite of my friend’s: soft, round, and not at all tight-skinned like an apple—more like an overripe pear. At its widest, it measures 95 centimeters, or just over 37 inches. And yes, that is a problem! Because I’m otherwise very slim. My upper-arm diameter is 23 centimeters (9 inches) and my chest (here lies the crux of the issue) only 79 centimeters—31 inches.

My theory is this: your ass should never be wider than your chest. If it is, you look like a spider—big body, skinny extremities. And if I’ve always known one thing, it’s that I don’t want to look like a spider.

But as it turns out, these views are now passé. What used to be of the essence—having as small a tail end as possible, despite the fact that 70% of men apparently appreciate a shapelier female backside—is no longer ‘’in.’’ Curves are. This became clear during the British Royal Wedding, when the sight of bridesmaid Pippa Middleton’s lush derrière arrested not only my eye but the eyes of enough others to honor it with a page on Facebook. By last count, the “Pippa Middleton Ass Appreciation Society” page had over 230,000 fans.

What’s more, we now have Pippa Middleton Ass Appreciation Day. The trend that started in Munich in 2007, when Bulgarian Kristina Dimitrova won the World’s Best Butt Contest, is now coming full circle. Demands for cosmetic surgery that augment and enhance buttocks are on the increase; it’s all about implants, not liposuction. The long and the short of it—no ifs, ands or butts about it—is that the whole world is now on my friend’s side.

It’s reached the point where I ask myself why I used to complain so much about my posterior, and why I did what I did to change it. It’s the story of a long, hard fight.

It started at the gym. My trainer developed a special work-out for me that I embarked on enthusiastically. Results were noticeable very quickly, only here’s the thing: the changes were in the wrong places.

Somehow, my face got really narrow. My chest measurements got smaller. But my backside, on the other hand, stayed the same. I also noticed my upper thighs starting to bulge. ‘’That’s great,’’ said my trainer. ‘’We’re building muscle!‘‘ Not amused, my interest in the training flagged and that was the end of that.

That’s when I started to work out in the privacy of my own home. The exercises seemed designed to make anyone doing them look like a fool. I didn’t tell anyone about them, and figured that since I wasn’t using weights there wasn’t much that could go wrong. Not only did nothing go wrong: nothing happened at all. No changes whatsoever to my bothersome backside.

So I bought a step machine. I’d heard that climbing stairs, even if you just simulated it, worked wonders. So every morning I worked out on the stepper, which was not only terminally boring but gave me knee problems. My orthopedist suggested swimming instead.

Less is not always more

I joined a club that not only had a huge outdoor pool but an indoor pool as well, and bought some swim fins because I’d heard that paddling around with them was a great way to firm up the fanny. I did it all summer, but it was very strenuous and turned out not to be very good for my knees—or my keister. As fall rolled around and there were fewer sunny days, I had to move my training indoors. Once again, my interest waned and I wound the paddling down.

There was now nothing for it but to integrate fighting what I thought of as my ‘’battle‘‘ into my daily routines. Armed with a loofah, I buffed my buttocks then gave them alternating hot and cold rinses when I showered. Afterwards, I massaged each one carefully with a lotion that contained caffeine, which is supposed to fire up your metabolism. I also went for regular saunas—and I will admit that my skin became very smooth and soft, also firmer, from this regime. However, it had no impact whatsoever on the size of my seat.

Somewhere along the line learned that posteriors are where the body stores its last reserves of fat, and that these reserves (according to researchers) are a good thing and reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. In other words, a round rump is a sign of good health. Of course, as a beauty ideal, generously proportioned female hindquarters go back as far as the Stone Age, and it’s an ideal that to this day prevails in many tribal cultures.

The thing is, I wanted to leave the Stone Age behind me, correction, I didn’t want the Stone Age behind me. Many women feel the same way, which is why the world is full of so many high tech weapons to rid it of curvy cans.

And I made full use of those weapons, beginning with a pair Scala Shaper Leggings that have Active Bio-Crystals woven into the fabric that warm up your tissues and supposedly melt the fat. I have never owned a finer pair of leggings; my bum definitely did not look too big in them. But when I wasn’t wearing them, we were back to square one—the crystals somehow didn’t kick in.

Still it was a pretty good discovery that led me to test other shapewear, such as Spanx, which also worked visual wonders, except that removing the flesh-covered undergarments is anything but sexy (always make sure you’re alone when extricating yourself). And since it just created the illusion of a more compact rear without altering the real article, shapewear made me feel as if I were cheating.

So on to some Reebok EasyTones at 130 euros the pair. Air pads in the soles of these shoes intentionally destabilize you. To keep your balance, you end up working a lot of muscles, including tush muscles.

The toned tush thing sounded so promising, but I never got that far because once in the subway the shoes made me lose my balance, which really irritated me. And in the editorial offices where I work in the fashion section, everybody studiously ignored my clumpy footwear. I think they thought I was seriously going for a Darth Vader look!

What to do next? Have an operation? That was very far down on my list of options; there isn’t a lot of demand for corrective buttock surgery, and I didn’t feel like going with it either. Instead, I got on a flight to Geneva, where I’d booked a session at L. Raphael’s Temple of Beauty. They use an ultrasound method that works the way lymph drainage does. The treatment made my backside and legs tingle like crazy. My head started tingling too when they explained that I would need at least 10 sessions (at 800 euros a pop) to start seeing real results.

Fast forward, post-Pippa: the latest developments on the fanny front may mean that my fighting days are permanently over. If not, then at least there’s been a cease-fire. A Detox Yoga course that I completed last week helped me a lot in trying to wrap my mind around the new reality. Kundalini yoga is not so much about body detox as about purifying the mind. In the very first class we learned to respect ourselves, for who and —importantly—how we are. That respect lays the foundations needed for change.

I’m not normally into esoteric stuff, but I found myself really getting into the meditative chants, repeating over and over: “I am who I am, thank God I am.” To my great surprise, I felt pretty good after those sessions. Come on, I hear you say.

Okay, I admit it! What’s really making me feel a whole lot better, besides Pippa, is Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce Knowles. A new ideal of beauty is upon us. Out with apples. In with tomatoes: large, full and round. I no longer have to fight the fight. From now on, it’s going to be like the old Sir Mix-a-Lot rap hit: “Shake that healthy butt!”


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