Body Image – Health Benefits of a Big Bum

It’s official. A big bum is healthier for women. Don’t hate on me! The blokes at prim and proper Oxford University say so. I am curious what made the tweed clad mates at Oxford decide to study big bums? Who knew that Mr. Darcy and Bingley were fans of big badonkadonks?! Now before you all run to the plastic surgeon, it must be au naturel in your genes.

This subject is dear to me because it’s personal. As a child I was teased for my lips. As a result, I never smiled and did not wear lipstick until my 20s. The beginnings of my body image issues. As a kid, I always had a small frame. Even though my mom bought me girls slim jeans, she still had to take in the waist so they would not fall off me. I was so skinny that my childhood nickname was “RonRudy Chicken Booty.” Family members are fond of giving nicknames about shortcomings. Although I was skinny, I had big lips and legs. No one ever thought my frame would turn curvaceous – hence “chicken booty.” Somewhere between junior and senior year in high school,  a round bump appeared on the back of my 90 lb frame. I did not notice because who looks backwards?!

Selena! I could fall in love with you.

It was not until freshman year in college that I paid attention that others were watching my rear. I was voted “2nd Biggest Butt on campus.” Naturally, I protested. I did not want nor deserved that “honor.” I proclaimed, “I am only 100 lbs…I don’t have a fat butt!” The response shocked me: “You might be 100 lbs but 60 of it is in your butt.” As a kid, I was teased about my big lips. Now women all over were getting collagen injected in there lips. Now, I’m being told I have a big butt. My body issues were rooted in the fact that I was not considered a typical beauty by fashion or society standards – full lips, big bum was not and is still not the accepted standard of what women should look like. Also, I did not like the association that a hourglass body type was a stripper or video vixen, especially for women of color. Around the time I was bestowed “2nd Biggest Butt,” Sir Mix-a-Lot came out with Baby Got Back. At that time I decided to embrace my big lips, small waist, and big bum. I made Baby Got Back my anthem song. I was not a stripper, just a young lady growing into an adult body and there was nothing shameful or embarrassing about that.

The more weight I gained, the mass on my posterior blossomed like Outback’s Bloomin’ Onion. The weight came while studying for the bar exam. I went from a size 4 to an 8. The summer I spent 12-14 hours a day face down in BarBri study guides. I did not work out and my clothes were fitted but not camel toe tight. After taking the bar exam, I went home and visited my southern Granny. My Granny is bluntly honest – a characteristic I picked up from her. After giving her a hug, she exclaimed: “Oh God, your a** is big as all outdoors! Turn ’round so I can see all of you.” Without missing a beat, she yelled from the kitchen to my aunts in the living room: “Come in here and see this.” To me: “Turn ’round so they can see all of this.” To my aunts: “Can ya’ll believe this is our RonRudy Chicken Booty?”

Harlem Haberdashery’s Kells Barnett and Sharene “Shay” Wood with Ronda Lee.

Well if I was not comfortable with my body before, now would be the time to embrace it! As I begin to exercise to get back to my pre-bar exam weight, several friends approached me: “You really shouldn’t lose weight. The extra look good on you.” I did go back to a size 4, but they were right. That extra weight looked good on me. My biggest compliment came from my niece who at the tender age of 6 said she wanted to have a butt like auntie.

Living in NYC and seeing wafer thin models and women trying to remain a size 4 at all costs, I tend to stick out. I have gained more weight, not on purpose. I am a size 10-12, with a 28 inch waist, big hips, and bum. I need to lose weight to be in a healthy BMI range. The Oxford study was a helpful reminder for me to not overdo it when I step back in the gym. I do not need to be a size 4. My big bum has health benefits. Me and my big bum will walk the concrete jungle head held high. I have accepted the fact that my bum sounds like a Missy Elliott beat – Bbboomp bbboomp bbboomb bbboomb.

Serena Williams. Athlete, Entrepreneur, Mom, Brick House. “Sorry, I ain’t sorry.”

My curves do not mean I am a lascivious woman. It means I am a grown woman comfortable aging in my skin – big lips, hips, and bum. I am always shocked at what men think they can say to a perfect stranger under the guise of a “compliment.”  You look nice is a compliment. I want to be your butt sweat is not. Unfortunately, someone said that to me.

Ladies, whatever your size, be healthy. Don’t starve yourself or go under the knife to please others. Your first concern should be your health and loving yourself for who you are. Confidence is a big turn on. If you have no butt, small butt, flat butt, or the stuff that makes people say OMG she’s a brick house, in the words of Salt-n-Pepa: Express Yourself. It’s gotta be you and only you babe. Go on girls express yourself!

The other year my derriere tore through my favorite khaki pants as I was leaving work. This time instead of crying, I went home found a dance song and wrote, RIP Khakis-Too Much Booty in da’ Pants.

Angela Bassett rocking her curves.

Ronda Lee
Founder, Editor-in-Chief
Ronda is an attorney, writer, and entrepreneur. She is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post. Originally from Chicago, she has lived in Los Angeles and New York. She loves to travel and is passionate about education equity, especially for first generation college students.