There was a dark time in my life, not so long ago, when I was unimpressed-to-disdainful when it came to whatever wagon dudes were draggin'.
My guy-type, inasmuch as I have one, has pretty much always been "blows over in a strong wind, has a lot of feelings about wildlife." For some reason, these qualities do not tend to correlate highly with having an impressive caboose. Thus, I trained myself to address any well-sculpted asses I encountered with a disdainful indifference, like Meryl Streep in "The Devil Wears Prada" if Anne Hathaway's character had been a mercilessly toned pair of glutes.
And then, less than a year ago, something changed.
Maybe it was that I had spent too long in San Francisco, where the jeans are tight and the hipster bums are plentiful, and something within me finally snapped. Maybe it was because I started seriously watching hockey, where having a "big heavy hockey butt" is such a frequent occurrence that players often have to get their trousers specially tailored. Maybe it was because my evo-psych-influenced uterus believes that men store their intelligence and extra gametes in their flanks and thus compelled me to search out the smartest and flankiest one of all as I bloomed further into my fertility. (Kidding.)
All I know is that one day, I caught sight of Jonathan Toews's ass in compression shorts and felt, for the first time, a mighty stirring.
Yes, this is completely shallow, and I recognize that a man's hindquarters have nothing to do with how he behaves as a human being. It's not like having a nice ass makes you a good person, or vice versa. But on a purely physical level, these days, pretty much any kind of muscular thigh-and-badonk situation turns me from a relatively rational human being to a slavering weirdo-beast, and there is just no getting around that.
It's kind of alarming, actually. I'll watch a conveniently timed zoom-in at a baseball game, and a tiny, purely objective part of my brain will still be like, "Hooray, the muscular consequences of bipedalism! Also, poop comes out near there, man!"
The rest of me, meanwhile, is bright crimson and making weird monosyllabic caveman-noises.
Part of it, admittedly, could be based on sheer envy. I have never had much of an impressive booty myself; like I've written before, my own ass is wide and flat, like a snowplow. So witnessing a butt I could set a table on feels kind of like watching someone solve a complicated calculus problem set or play a sonata on the cello: it's aesthetically beautiful, sure, but it's also so far outside my comprehension that I'm left standing there, mouth agape and trembling.
I realize that this is old, old news to some of you. Forgive me, for butts and I are still in the Honeymoon Period. If you get a Christmas card from me this year and it just features me and some dude's ass in matching holiday sweaters, well, don't say I didn't warn you. The situation is that dire.
Somewhat fortunately for me, though, I am not the only person who has unearthed a woefully belated appreciation for curvaceous asses.
According to this New York Times article, the public ardor for man-butt has recently intensified to such a degree that some men have been opting for ass-enhancement surgery, where fat is taken from so-called "undesirable" areas like the belly and squirted into their hind ends. The Times cites the fact that men accounted for 6.2% of cosmetic buttock procedures in 2012 -- not huge by any means, but a definite jump from the 2.2% a decade ago.
For those who prefer the more frugal option, there's also the rising trend of butt-enhancing underpants and, even more unheard of, pants that actually fit correctly.
Now, don't get me wrong. I hate the idea that anyone is being driven to insecurity by beauty standards, regardless of their gender. While it is kind of nice that the absurd demands of public libido are not being projected onto women's bodies for once, I would never want to give someone a complex because of my own pervy tendencies.
On the other hand, if this renewed cultural fervor means that guys who do have curvy asses feel more comfortable with themselves, then yes, please, I am in favor. Save Salt-N-Pepa's perennial hit "Shoop," I can't think of many mainstream pieces of media created in tribute to dudes' booties, and that is a crying shame. No wonder the men in that Times article had trouble dealing emotionally with the sudden demand for a muscular tush. When you've spent your whole life being told that most dudes' ideal pants are about four sizes too big, the sudden whiplash popularity of slim-fitting trousers would be confusing at best.
So for the sake of dudes who have perhaps felt self-conscious about their voluptuous butts in the past, I fervently hope that the coming months see a surge in department stores' stocks of Jeggings 4 Him. You know, from a purely altruistic perspective.
In the meantime, my own interest has gotten to the point where even I've been motivated to start doing squats and walking up hills. I'm in a mostly-single period, see, and I like the idea of being able to ogle my own booty in the absence of eyeballing anyone else's. I may never reach Idris Elba levels of perfection, but hey, it's always nice to have goals, right?
Kate has a Butts Playlist on Spotify, and she ain't proud: @katchatters.