The Hottentot Offensive

While the term ‘Hottentot’ may sound like a cannibalistic German phrase for ‘roasted child’, it’s definitely more offensive than that and you would be making a total ass of yourself if you tried using it to impress all your friends during Octoberfest.

Speaking of asses (and Hottentots) they are the subject of this morning’s story from Vanity Fair.

Who determines what titillates, offends, earns copycats or notoriety? In Butts (Avid Reader Press), Radke rewinds to 1810, when a Khoe woman from South Africa—known to scholars as Sarah Baartman and to leering crowds, derogatorily, as the “Hottentot Venus”—took the London stage, exploited for her exoticism. After garish cartoons of Baartman’s figure made her a household name, the bustle rose to curious popularity among well-to-do Victorians. “The more a lady resembled a sofa,” Radke writes of the puffy rears, “the richer she appeared.”

Two centuries later, following swings toward the other extreme (flapper waifs, heroin-chic Kate Moss), a sizable butt is again a prize, entwined as ever with ideas about race, gender, and class. In lieu of tailor-made contraptions, today’s newly minted butts come from plastic surgeons, who are busy relocating fat for hourglass figures. But even the genetically blessed heed that tricky balance. In “Thique,” off this summer’s Renaissance, Beyoncé warns, “She say she on a diet, girl, you better not lose that ass though.”

Here’s a fun fact:

The average cost of buttock augmentation with fat grafting is $4,807, the average cost of butt implants is $5,278 and the average cost of a buttock lift is $5,482, according to the most recent statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

The average cost to society? Immeasurable.

What do you think? Are surgically enhanced buttocks offensive? Let me know in the comments!

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