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Beauty and the bamsee

Posted: February 10th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Column | 3 Comments »

I read this story after my friend Tillah Willah posted it on Facebook. The upshot of it is that a black British girl died after getting some bogus silicone injection to make her bottom bigger. She was a dancer and had lost out on a job after going to an audition wearing padded pants.

While I think most elective cosmetic surgery is ridiculous and unnecessary, including buttock augmentation, I can feel why someone would be driven to such an extreme measure. Having grown up gloriously flat bottomed in Trinidad & Tobago, I can testify that it is not easy for a black woman to be without a big bottom. We (at least most of us in the Caribbean, the US and the UK) have a culture that deifies a woman’s bottom. We sing songs about it. We create dances just so the glute-gifted can shine. We dress to highlight it. We fetishise it in porn and popular culture. And, yes, when we walk down the street we are told, in no uncertain terms, whether our bottoms are good enough.

I’m not saying we ought to agree with any of this; I’m just pointing out what exists in our culture. When a flat bottomed girl is growing up in a black cultural context, she will more likely than not suffer shame at some level that she is inadequate and unattractive because of her bottom. It took me a long time to appreciate my bottom for what it is: the proud legacy of my Ameridian/Indian/Syrian/European heritage. And even so I’m still a little wistful sometimes when I look at myself in a pair of jeans. Would I wear padded pants or get surgical intervention to “correct” it? Hell, no. But I could see where the misguided sister was coming from. The cult of the bamsee is strong.


3 Comments on “Beauty and the bamsee”

  1. 1 Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago: Of Beauty & Bottoms · Global Voices said at 12:39 pm on February 10th, 2011:

    […] is incredulous over the skin bleaching phenomenon, saying: “Black is beautiful”, while Lisa Allen-Agostini “can testify that it is not easy for a black woman to be without a big bottom…the cult […]

  2. 2 StunnerJ said at 10:53 pm on February 15th, 2011:

    I do love a woman with a juicy round booty, but beauty and sexiness extends beyond a big booty. Black women are often associated with “the booty” in our culture, but how a woman carries herself and dresses can compensate for a lack of the typical black woman’s bottom.

  3. 3 lise said at 7:19 am on February 16th, 2011:

    Why “compensate”? Flat bamsee chicks are just as good as any other; no need for compensation! 🙂


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