Personal trainers in Irish gyms have noticed a rise in young women whose ‘body goals’ are to get a derriére like Kim Kardashian and her curvaceous sisters. But is it possible for the average woman to achieve their infamous curves?
When it comes to body image, there has been a notable shift in the last few years. Where once the ‘ideal’ was an thin frame complete with jutting collar bones and a thigh gap - now, the focus is on a svelte, toned physique.
In the nineties, a teenage Kate Moss rose to the fore of the international modelling scene with her willowy frame and the obsession with ‘heroin chic’ was born. Models who stalked the catwalk in the fashion capitals appeared to be thinner than ever which also warped how the ‘average woman’ viewed her own body.
In the noughties, notable Los Angeles stylist Rachel Zoe pioneered a look for her legions of celebrity clients and size zero entered our vocabulary. The media was quick to criticise these emaciated women, who looked swamped by their oversized handbags and accessories, but their figures were still often cited as 'aspirational'.
One of the first women to break the mould for her generation was Gisele Bundchen. Heralded as ‘The Body’ by designers like Alexander McQueen, her figure was a hark back to the legendary supermodels of the 1980s with their athletic and honed bodies. She was soon bestowed angel wings by the lingerie conglomerate Victoria’s Secret, and an international star famous for her Amazonian-like limbs was born.
It would appear that young women are now more obsessed with body image than ever. Blame social media, blame the rise of the fitness blogger or blame selfie culture, but one thing is for sure, the emphasis on sculpting your body, and in particular your bum, has become a cultural phenomenon.
Historically speaking, the fascination with a large bottom derives from our ancestor’s primal need to procreate. As a shapely behind signified fertility and health, many surviving pieces of artwork from this period show women with thicker thighs and rotund bottoms. The sex symbols and screen icons of our mother's and grandmother’s eras, such as Marilyn Monroe, also had these full-bodied figures. But soon the celebrated hourglass shape gave way to the ‘waif’ like models of the 1960s.
According to a New Zealand anthropologist, females with a curvy behind are more attractive to men due to their hip to waist ratio. To illustrate his point, Barnaby Dixson points to previous research which found that women with smaller waists and big hips have higher levels of fertility. To investigate, the scientist presented a group of volunteers with digitally altered pictures of women and found that those with enhanced bums were deemed more attractive.
Interestingly, a separate study in the University of California found that curves were linked with intelligence, as women with fat around the hips and thighs had higher levels of omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain growth, and a study of 16,000 women showed that curvy women were more likely to do well in cognitive tests.
Plastic surgeons in the US have certainly cashed in on the lucrative business of bum-enhancing. The infamous ‘Brazilian Butt Lift’ procedure costs upwards of $10,000 and popularity of these surgeries grew by 53 percent in 2013 according to Miami-based surgeon Dr Constantino Mendieta, who wrote a book entitled ‘The Art of Gluteal Sculpting’.
Irish personal trainers and fitness instructors have also noticed that women are coming to them with a new goal: to gain a behind that rivals the likes of Nicki Minaj, Iggy Azalea, Beyoncé, J-Lo, and Kim Kardashian.
But is it actually possible to achieve this physique that has become so normalised in pop culture?
Loosely speaking, it is within a woman’s power to sculpt her bum and change the muscle memory, says Ronnie Carroll of Evolution Fitness.
“Like them or love them the Kardashians are everywhere and there's definitely an increase in women looking to emulate their shape,” he says.
“A lot of it has to do with genetics and the natural shape you’re born with, but there are certainly plenty of exercises that can be done to increase tone and definition for the bottom.
“They key is to work the glutes with plenty of donkey kicks, squats lunges, reverse lunges, kettlebell squats, box squats and glute bridges,” he offers.
However, he advises that it is important not to over train one particular area of the body without working on the rest, as it could lead to muscular imbalance and potential injury.
Ronnie Carroll is the proprietor of Evolution Fitness, Kinsealy, Co Dublin.