The booty.

I know, I know. For some reason, it seems like you can never escape booty talk.

“I need to do something with this booty.”

Not even just her hips, but her thighs - that's hard work!

“My booty is perfect – I don’t want exercise to ruin that.”

Listen for long enough, and you’ll eventually hear “I need to get off my booty and do something.”

No matter what, this topic always comes up. And while I can’t help but be tickled, I’m also a little saddened by it.

More often now, I wind up having fitness-based conversations with people who “knew” me before and “know” me now, only because they’re trying to poke and prod at my understanding of what I want for myself. Much like the people who insisted that I “should be trying to get a man” instead of focusing on myself, I get people who want to talk to me about my booty.

Let me explain – I had a “giant booty.” I mean, giant. I was a size 28 – I didn’t have much choice except to have… a “giant booty.” And while in some circles a booty that large is “just wrong,” in other circles a “giant booty” is something similar to carrying a pot of gold on your back down the street. Everyone’s looking, wondering if you’ve got more in yours than they’ve got in theirs, if yours is better than theirs, wondering if they can get what you’ve got. And depending upon who you’re talking to, it might be worth just as much AS a pot of gold, for crying out loud. I’m sure you know what circles I made sure I stayed in, then – the ones that made me feel better about me and my,well.. giant booty.

As a woman, my weight is supposed to concentrate closer to my hips and thighs – it’s supposed to help protect our reproductive system. The extra fat keeps your eggs and various other goodies warm. (This is where the notion that “women with larger hips are better child birthers” or whatever comes from.) And while I cannot completely share the history of every bloodline in existence and how their bodies adapted to their environments… I can certainly share mine.

As a woman of color, I was blessed with being predisposed to a curvaceous, well-built figure. Meaning, if I treat my body right, the curves have no choice but to come. As my ancestors come from a place where countless generations built their muscle in certain places to help their bodies do what they needed to do to tend to their villages, my bloodline adapted – full hips and an ample busom to help me deliver and care for my children; strong calf, booty and thigh muscles; powerful neck and shoulder muscles. As a woman, I was built to be… well, built. Well built, to be exact.

And in a society where everyone makes money off of making life easier, I have to go out of my way to maintain that… build. I don’t have to work as hard as my ancestors in order to accomplish basic daily tasks.

January, '10

Somewhere along the line, any “giant booty” became acceptable. And as women, I often wonder if we ignored the fact that our frames were increasing because we were getting compliments on our derrierres. I mean, we were still getting complimented – we must be doing something right, right?

Let me mention a few important things that have to be a part of any resolution to be healthier:

First, just as being skinny is not an indicator of good health, neither is being or having fat. There’s no way around that – there is very little in the way of physical appearance that can gauge a person’s health. While we can talk about anorexics and the “super obese” as exceptions, the vast majority of us don’t fall on either end of the spectrum – we sit closer to the middle. So no, “getting a bigger booty” doesn’t mean “you’re doing something right.” It means you’re doing something, but “right?” I can’t call it.

Secondly, again – we have to stop basing our judgments of ourselves on what other people say or think. Thinking that I don’t have to “do anything” because other people like “how I am” is just an excuse to not consciously think about “how I am.” Almost like it’s putting the responsibility of “thinking about me” onto other people. Can I really trust other people to think about me in a way that’s best for me? If I could, I might’ve never been so overweight in the first place. Ownership. Gotta take it.

I had a lot of thinking to do. When I think about myself, am I happy with what I have? Regardless of your weight, I hope you are. You are you, and you should be happy regardless of what you have. But take it a step further – am I healthy? If not, am I willing to risk “what I have” to claim my health?

Lastly, and this is most important – our bodies are complex. With as many muscle groups as there are… you think you can’t build and rebuild and rebuild what you’ve got? You can do just about anything with your body if you commit to it AND commit to you.

Let me talk about my booty for a minute. When I started losing weight, the very first thing I lost WAS in my gut and booty region. I was so happy about the gut that I didn’t recognize that my booty was slipping away. Not until I started weight lifting that I realized it was deflated! Gone. Vanished. The case of the disappearing booty. I was gonna have to hire a PI and put out an APB for it.

So.. I had to do something. I mean, some serious body mapping. I had too much fat in my thighs to have an actual curve to my booty at the point where it met my thigh. I had a spare tire that was hiding the slope from my back to my booty. I needed to actually build a booty of muscle… which meant no more crease between my booty and my thigh, causing those saddle bags. I had work to do.

Since I was already burning the fat, I needed to work on rebuilding. Booty and thigh exercises on deck. And please believe, the squats are necessary. It is absolutely possible to rebuild yourself a fit booty – one that sits high, curves just right, and doesn’t cause skin to fold and protrude at the hips. If the fat was going to melt away, it needed something to conform to, in my mind. So, off I went muscle building. It’s working well for me.

All of this is to say… I need to make sure that I don’t cling to someone else’s perception of what I “should” look like, especially when that perception would bind me to an unhealthy lifestyle. I need to not believe that I can’t rebuild something like a booty in a much healthier way than cornbread and sweet potato pie. I need to resolve to be comfortable with who I am, and understand that wanting something else for my body doesn’t mean that I believe something is wrong with who I am. And lastly… a fit booty is a thousand times better than a booty I got through unhealthy means.. ’cause I worked for it, earned it and deserved it.

Who else out there is working on their fit booty? Let’s hear it!

(You might also want to check out my post on belly fat!)