The U.S. booty business is getting a big bump. Companies are cashing in on growing demand from women seeking the more curvaceous figures of their favourite stars, who flaunt their fuller rear ends.
Nicki Minaj raps about her "big fat" butt in "Anaconda." Reality-star Kim Kardashian posts photos of hers on Instagram. And in the music video for "Booty," Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea spend four minutes rubbing their curvy bottoms together. At one point, they slap each other on the booty.
As a result of the pop culture moment the butt is having, sales for Booty Pop, which hawks $22 foam padded panties on its website, are up 47 per cent in the last six months from the same period last year.
Susan Bloomstone, Booty Pop's co-founder, says customers have asked for larger sizes. So, the Boston-based company will begin selling pads that are 25 per cent larger. "People just want more booty," she says.
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Deborah Santiago squeezed into a $40 Feel Foxy one-piece for her 30th birthday. The shapewear flattened Santiago's waist and boosted her back side. A flat butt can ruin an outfit, says the New York stay-at-home mother of two. Lopez is her butt idol.
"I always wanted a big butt," Santiago says.
To be sure, the desire for big butts isn't new. Large booties long have been preferable in Latino and black communities, says Dr. Dionne Stephens, an associate psychology professor at Florida International University.
But recently, the desire for a bigger bottom became more mainstream, in large part due to pop culture influences. "When people see things repeated on TV more and more, it becomes normalized," Stephens says.
The interest in larger hind parts seems to have started when Kardashian began appearing in a reality TV show "Keeping up with the Kardashians" seven years ago.
In a 2011 episode, she had an X-ray to prove she didn't have butt implants. Kardashian still frequently posts shots of her backside to her 21 million Instagram followers.
But the desire for big buns has intensified. This summer, the music video for "Anaconda" that showed Minaj in a pink thong was viewed 19.6 million times within 24 hours of its release — a record for music video site Vevo. It has racked up nearly 300 million views.
Some businesses that specialize in butts say pop culture has had a direct impact on their bottom line.
A Brazilian butt lift, in which fat is sucked from a patient's stomach, love handles or back and put into their buttocks and hips, is increasingly popular in the U.S. This type of surgery, along with buttock implants, was the fastest-growing plastic surgery last year, with more than 11,000 procedures, up 58 per cent from 2012, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
Dr. Matthew Schulman, who performs the procedure in New York, says this year has been busier than last. Schulman, who charges $10,000 to $13,000 for the three-hour surgery, does six to eight Brazilian butt lifts weekly, up about 25 per cent from a year ago. He says when he asks patients which celebrity butt they want, the top names are Kardashian, Minaj and Lopez.
The downside is that women desperate for cheap options have risked their lives, going to phoney doctors that inject silicone, and even bathroom caulk, into their buttocks. Deaths have been reported in Miami, New York, Las Vegas and Jackson, Mississippi.
Another problem is doctors performing surgeries that don't have experience: Schulman says about 20 per cent of his patients to him so he can fix lumps, bumps and uneven butt cheeks done by unskilled doctors.
Not everyone is trying surgery, though.
DailyBurn, which streams workout videos, says views for its "Butt, Hips and Thighs" video doubled in January and have remained popular.
At a gym in Boston, there's a waitlist for a $30 class that features 120 squats in 45 minutes. The class, Booty by Brabants, was started by Kelly Brabants a year ago. Brabants starts most classes with Lopez's "Booty" song.
"Every girl now wants a booty," Brabants said.
Follow Joseph Pisani at http://twitter.com/josephpisani