Since moving to the Virgin Islands, my body image issues have transferred themselves from my tiny, skinny-white-girl tits to my flat, skinny-white-girl ass.
“Why?,” you ask.
Because Caribbean women have beautiful curves, asses being prized above tits. I, unfortunately, have neither. My mom has both, but rather than inheriting her body type, my shape most closely resembles the long, lean frame of my Grandpa Hank.
This wouldn’t be so bad, if I also didn’t have what my bitchy brother Troy (may he rest in peace) gleefully referred to as, “the birthing hips of a peasant. You look like you could squat down in the corner, push out a baby, and keep on working ’til sundown.” That, and every ounce of fat retained settles in my stomach. Overall, the combination makes for a silhouette that’s less like an hourglass and more like a strip of bacon. It was explained to me that West Indian men, unlike their white stateside counterparts, appreciate a woman who “tick.” As in, “thick.” Down here, get too skinny, and you look like, “you sick or on crack.” In my case, gaining weight only results in a rounder belly, while my T and A maintain their modest proportions.
A week after arriving on St. Thomas, while waiting for my mom in (naturally) a downtown bar, I happened to catch a TV commercial for butt-boosting panties. Now, I’ve had an intimate relationship with shape-enhancing bras for almost two decades, but I must admit the idea of padding my ass to more thoroughly fill out my pants had never before occurred. This ad promised that a couple of strategically-placed shoulder pads between your cheeks and jeans are all that’s needed to create a curve to be admired. Before the spot ended, one patron said, for everyone’s benefit, “We definitely don’t need those in the Virgin Islands.” All locals in the bar, white and black alike, responded with an insider’s chuckle.
Growing up a Midwestern white girl in the 90’s, I never thought I needed a shapely ass to be considered attractive. I was far more concerned with my face, boobs, and waistline to ever give much thought to my derriere. This, of course, was before the reign of J. Lo, Beyonce, Kim Kardashian, and Nikki Minaj.
The beauty icons I remember most from my formative years were Christy Brinkley, Paula Abdul, Madonna, and the chicks on Saved By the Bell and 90210. And while Janet Jackson is rumored to have an ass, she will surely never win any awards for embracing her beautiful, black, and bootylicious heritage. Even Sir-Mix-A-Lot’s classic anthem Baby Got Back didn’t conjure any insecure feelings about the quality of my ass; I was quite happy to look like the music video’s lank spoof of Cindy Crawford on the cover of Cosmo, thank you very much.
When I was eight, my parents made me take golf lessons, arranging a carpool with a couple boys from the neighborhood I didn’t really know. Halfway through the course, they decided not to like me. I knew this because they called me, “Mrs. Big Butt,” when it was my turn to practice chipping in front of the entire class. The public embarrassment chafed, but in retrospect, it’s rather funny. Not only because yours truly took golf lessons, but more so that my butt could ever be described as big. They might as well have called me Mrs. No Nostrils or Mrs. Blue Chin for the incisive quality of their insult.
In those days, my back-end was far more often classified as a “bony butt,” if ever I were to sit on a lap. Honestly, I wasn’t clear exactly what was meant by the term, “bony butt.” It was just part of the kid vernacular back then. I didn’t necessarily think of it as an insult. More just a description. And at that point in time, I’d have taken, “bony butt” over, “fat ass” any day.
It didn’t occur to me that I might have a problem until the summer after my freshman year in college. At a work event in my hometown, I observed that one of the local business owners— a thin, attractive woman around 50— had absolutely no ass. From the front, she was quite pleasant to behold. However, from the side and back, I couldn’t help but notice that what should have been her ass just blended in with her lower back and her upper thighs. At that moment, the horrifying insight struck, that unless I could somehow stave it off with exercise, this would also be the physical trajectory of my backside.
Fast forward a decade, and my prediction seems to be coming a reality. Except, I do have it on authority that one year after moving here, my ass was noticeably harder than ever before. And that was just from walking the stairs/slight incline everyday from the Waterfront coffee shop where I worked to Government Hill where I parked my car.
When I moved to St. John and started walking Hershey up hills that feel vertical, I thought for sure my ass would benefit greatly. And while no damage has occurred, the exercise certainly hasn’t provided any lift or curve. Sure, you can bounce a quarter off my ass, but it still looks wide and flat in many outfits. I have no love handles to speak of, but from the rear and the side, my lower back runs straight into the top of my ass. Thankfully, there yet remains a not unlovely curve on the bottom half of my white girl booty.
One of my favorite things about West Indians is the frankness with which they converse about body types. It’s a topic for another day, but I tell you that to tell you this. One night several months ago, I was dining in a Cruz Bay bar, and had occasion to catch-up a charming older island gentleman. We’d bonded over the course of a few evenings the previous holiday season, and I hadn’t seen him since. He spent a good chunk of the conversation complimenting me, extolling my beauty, intellect, wit, and character. It was really a bit too much, but I felt pretty good about myself by the time I had to go home. I descended the bar stool, grabbed my purse, and turned around to bid the gentleman adieu.
He placed my hand gently between both of his, looked into my eyes, and said with genuine sincerity, “I couldn’t help but notice that your ass is very flat. That tells me you sittin’ too much. You should work on that.”
What to do but thank him for pointing out this area needing improvement and assure him that I’m already seeking a solution.
Can anything be done for a girl like me? My vanity screams for a change in course before the situation worsens. Especially if I continue living in the land of luscious curves— the West Indian and Dominicano women with their ba-dunk-a-dunks, are a constant reminder of my ba-dink-a-dink.
Surgery is out of the question, but surely there must be some fitness enthusiasts reading who can offer advice on how to give a healthy boost to my little ass from the prairie. Consider your input solicited.