Butt Expert

Okay, that settles it. I have decided: given a choice, I would rather be rich than famous.

Why is that you ask? Well, I was going through the check-out at the grocery store last week, patiently waiting my turn, and scanning the endless racks of chocolate bars and magazines. I’ve done this before, and occasionally, when the lineup is long, I read the tabloid covers for a laugh. They’re so ridiculous, you have to laugh. But this time, I couldn’t believe my eyes.

No, the headline had nothing to do with a sighting of Elvis milking cows in Iowa. There were no two-headed babies, men from Mars, or conversations with Big Foot involved. Nope, the story had to do with a celebrity (of course). The headline was: “Mama bottoms out! Motherhood takes flabby toll on sexy celeb’s tush and thighs.”

I’m serious. A so-called photo exclusive, the full-colour, erm, spread started off with a close-up photo of the back of the celeb. Just in case you didn’t know where to look, the “tush” was circled in red. The reader is also treated to ‘then and now’ photographs, taken in May and November, respectively. The copy read breathlessly: “Even as celeb’s husband’s career hits new heights, his movie star wife’s figure is visibly showing the signs of gravity.” 

It gets better: “I was really shocked by her butt,’ says an eyewitness. . . An expert says her saggy appearance could be the result of excessive dieting . . .’

Good grief, Charlie Brown. I hardly know where to begin.

Let’s leave aside for a moment the fact that the celeb, like most of her colleagues, is so thin as to be verging on anorexic. Forget for now that the offending tush was photographed from a bad angle and in poor lighting to make it look as bad as possible, but that nevertheless it looks like a normal tush should: i.e., rounded and something you sit on. Ignore the fact the that there are apparently people in the world who hand out business cards marked “Mr. Smith, Butt Expert.” And please disregard that the celeb was 40, had just expelled a tiny human from her body, and can sag if she wants to.

Focus instead on this: there was the celeb, playing by the pool side with her daughter, blithely unaware that someone was zooming in with a camera and consulting a panel of experts for an in-depth topographical analysis of her bottom end. 

I’m all for critical thinking and investigative journalism, but does the world really need to know the state of a celeb’s butt?

Of course, it’s not just her posterior we’re looking at these days. We pick on movie stars, TV stars, royalty, sports figures, politicians. We tear into them for their hair, their voice, their clothes, their weight, and their youthful indiscretions.

And worse, we’re now doing it to ourselves. Social media and the ascension of the selfie (and dozens of filters) have made each of us our own paparazzi.

One could argue that it’s a good thing that we have high standards for our icons, celebrities and heroes. Some people would say that it’s great that we don’t put them up on pedestals and worship them unthinkingly. I disagree (and you knew I would). For starters, we have ridiculously high expectations when it comes to this stuff: gained an ounce? Shred them in the tabloids! Wrong colour eyeshadow? Trash them on TV! When the normal wear and tear of daily living is regarded as disgusting, what’s a celeb to do but head to the surgeon for shaping, tucking, and plastic implants? Goody. We dont accept our icons blindly, but they are 99% recyclable. 

For another thing, we don’t apply these standards consistently. We lambaste Hugh Grant for his position on the “best and worst dressed list,” but have largely forgiven him for cheating on his partner with a prostitute. We all loved to crack jokes about the Princess of Wales’ frailties, but it took her death for most of us to realize that in her own way, she did try to make the world better.

In fact, our standards are so skewed any more that we end up celebrating heroism where really, there is none. An American pilot who crashed in a Middle Eastern desert was lauded because, he, well, didn’t die before the rescuers picked him up. Magic Johnson was thought to be cool because he battled HIV which he picked up, by, er, having lots of sexual partners. Meanwhile, true heroes, like the Chinese dissidents risking their lives for democracy, are largely ignored.

And of course we know all about the submarine full of billionaires that imploded, but we know very little about the hundreds of people who died in the Messenia migrant boat disaster.

I get it: celebs and billionaires are shiny and interesting. They’re who we’d prefer to be. Refugees are a frightening reminder of who most of us are just a paycheque or natural disaster away from being.

But maybe if we dedicated a small amount of the time and money we spend on celebs to fixing the problems of the world, we’d have fewer refugees and homeless.

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