With International Women’s Day upon us, it’s time to look at what’s really holding women back from economic, political, social and financial equality with men: a pancake butt. Yes, apparently it’s this dreaded condition of a flattened posterior that is wreaking havoc with women’s empowerment. Of either a genetic origin or the unfortunate consequence of sitting 8 hours a day in a desk job, the pancake butt presumably crushes our self-esteem rendering us incapable of taking on the world the way we should.
At least that’s the thinking among purveyors of butt-enhancing jeans and accessories who promise to boost our self-confidence along with our buttock cheeks. Brands like Victoria’s Secret, Donna Karan Hosiery, Maidenform, and Montreal-based Booty Pop have been provided butt-shaping undergarments for some time. Now a small boutique in Vancouver, Avido Jeans, is making a killing by upping the ante, so to speak. It offers more than 50 different styles of Made-in-Colombia booty-boosting jeans. Customers can now increase the appearance of their posteriors five-fold. They describe the experience in terms usually reserved for the blind who are suddenly given the gift of sight. “When you put them on, it’s like stepping into a standing ovation. You can’t help but strut,” said one.
Granted it’s a leap to say that increasing your butt size five-fold will give you a feeling of invincibility. After all, it’s only a temporary cosmetic change and one that vanishes the moment the jeans come off. But, all the same, it literally increases a woman’s footprint in the world. And, if it helps her to strut, then it has done its job. Yes, butt-enhancing pants can be empowering!
In medicine, there’s much talk about placebo and nocebo effects and how our attitudes and beliefs mediate the therapeutic benefits of medical treatments in both positive and negative ways. If you have faith in a form of medicine or in a practitioner, you’re more likely to experience a better health outcome. In some cases, like sham surgeries where the patient is led to believe that a surgery occurred when it actually didn’t, the improvement the patient reports is 100% placebo effect.
The same thinking could apply to cosmetic and style enhancements. If applying red lipstick, wearing high heels or bum-enhancing jeans makes a woman feel more sexually alluring, “womanly”, or dominant, then she will act accordingly. And the people around will respond likewise. That’s a form of empowerment.
This isn’t to say that issues around gender inequality can be solved with a slick of lipstick or the right undergarments. Government, religious and corporate institutions need to become aligned in policies that promote greater gender equality. More than 5,000 years of affirmative male action seems quite sufficient and it’s about time we rebalanced.
Still, one of the attributes of empowerment is the ability to act with confidence. Acting boldly often leads to good results in life which further boosts confidence. And so it goes, in a virtuous circle. If that happy chain of events starts with wearing a butt-enhancer, who’s to argue? Beyoncé, Shakira and Jennifer Lopez certainly don’t look like shrinking violets.