Call it the JLo effect, the Beyonce boom or the Kim craze — a big behind has become a desirable asset for many women across the U.S. and companies that purport to help them sculpt a more curvaceous physique have been shaking their moneymakers and racking in the cash ever since the trend began.
Gym classes that promise a plump posterior are in high demand. A surgery that pumps fat into the buttocks is gaining popularity. And padded panties that give the appearance of a rounder rump are selling out.
One could blame, or laud, Jennifer Lopez for this fanny fashion as she – or to be more precise, her butt – became an icon in the 1990s and helped spur every famous butt since: from Beyonce shaking her behind in music videos to Kim Kardashian’s selfie shots to Nicki Minaj mentioning her "big fat" butt in the song "Anaconda."
Lopez, obviously understanding her rear end power, recently released the music video for "Booty," where she and Iggy Azalea, wearing leotards, 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 percent in the last six months from the same period a year earlier. The company declined to give sales figures, but said it has sold out of certain styles and colors this year, including its Pink Cotton Candy Boy Shorts.
Susan Bloomstone, Booty Pop's co-founder, says customers have asked for larger sizes. So the Boston-based company plans to begin selling pads that are 25 percent larger this month. "People just want more booty," she says.
Feel Foxy, another maker of padded panties, says 2014 has been its best year since launching nearly a decade ago. Sales are up 40 percent from a year ago, but the company declined to give sales figures.
"The Nicki Minaj song gave women the idea to pay attention to their rear end," says Jessica Asmar, co-owner of the Houston company.
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, but she also covets the bottoms of reality TV stars on "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" and "Love & Hip Hop."
"I always wanted a big butt," Santiago says. "Something you could look twice at."
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 who has researched sexuality in popular culture. And this isn't the first time big butts have been in songs. (Think: "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-A-Lot in the 1990s.)
But recently, the desire for a bigger bottom became more mainstream, in large part due to pop culture influences. Mainstream celebrities like Lopez and Minaj accepting their ample assets on camera have given the butt cachet. "When people see things repeated on TV more and more, it becomes normalized," Stephens says.
French sociologist Jean-Claude Kaufmann says this is true overseas, too: "In Europe, and in France especially, there's a trend to show off the buttocks in place of breasts. This has to do with Latin American influences, but also the rise of Beyonce and stars like Rihanna," says Kaufmann, author of "Women's Bodies, Men's Gaze. Sociology of Naked Breasts."
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.