Shake your Bobarosa for the boys

// 19 February 2008


Apparently the latest craze in Ivory Coast is the Bobarosa – literally, “big bottom” in Djoula – a dance inspired by big bottoms from the perspective of (you guessed it) a couple of Ivorian men. Both sexes are doing it (even the national football team), but really it’s all about the laydeez and their backsides. On the face of it you might construe it as positive. DJ Mix, who is half of the duo responsible for the song, says:

“We made it as a tribute to women, because African women are defined by the shape of their bottoms”

Cause women just *love* to be defined by the shape of their bottoms.

His (female) dancers say it’s empowering, and I can see where they’re coming from, up to a point. They say it helps people to feel good about their bodies, which is important for all women and in particular black women who have the double whammy of racist western standards of beauty imposed on them.

If that weren’t bad enough, the BBC reports that there’s a burgeoning trade in liquid-injectable and cream-based “bottom enhancers” in Ivory Coast, and DJ Mix doesn’t exactly go out of his way to condemn it:

“If a woman goes dancing and wants to take two or three treatments, no problem,” he says. But we don’t say to girls that they must take treatment to enhance your bottom, no.”


We might cheer liberation from the stick-thin turbo-chested (current) western ideal but this type of ‘liberation’ is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The Real Woman (TM) shtick which goes on in the media (real woman = not thin, although not one of those undisciplined smelly fat chicks either, no) is every bit as pernicious as the size zero mandate. Probably more so, since it purports to be on our side. If we need to define a Real Woman we’ve probably strayed away from the concept of reality already. Hello? We are here! We exist! We are real! Beanpoles, fatsos and stick-thin turbo-chested women alike! The necessary corrollary of Real Woman is Not A Proper Woman, and it sounds a bit much like ‘divide and conquer’ for my liking.

We have always had beauty standards imposed upon us. Whether it be Ruebeneque women of Renaissance times required to be plump to demonstrate their husband’s wealth, a size zero catwalk model of now of 2008, a Geisha with her feet bound, the ‘feedee’ of a fat fetishist, a 1920s woman strapping her chest with bandages to get the flapper look, or DJ Mix’s Bobarosa babes injecting their arses with backstreet ‘buttock enhancer’, we have always tried to modify ourselves to fit the way some men say we should look. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if Real Woman just meant whatever we are?

(Note: in the name getting a good image for this piece – so much harder than you’d think – at one point I searched ‘booty’ on Flickr. I strongly advise that you never do. Evential image courtesy of SlipStreamJC shared under a Creative Commons license)

Comments From You

vibracobra // Posted 19 February 2008 at 12:53 pm

“Note: in the name getting a good image for this piece – so much harder than you’d think – at one point I searched ‘booty’ on Flickr. I strongly advise that you never do.”

I just did, and got lots of pictures of tiny little baby footwear, a very small percentage of female arses (most of them curvy, some in underwear, some in jeans, a couple of them a bit depressing), two pirate references, and one interestingly-tanned bare bottom on page 4. On the whole, I didn’t see anything too pornographic there, even though from your warning I was expecting acres of bare thighs in contorted positions.

Although it is pretty creepy that so many people take pictures of empty babies’ shoes, I suppose.

I can think of various reasons why women would take pictures of their own arses. Although if it’s to show them off on the internet, it is a bit unhealthy, and it might have been nice to see some male arses too. Still, I really don’t see anything wrong with pictures of women’s bums, particularly if they’re taken by the women themselves.

vibracobra // Posted 19 February 2008 at 1:11 pm

Although I agree with your post otherwise, that goes without saying.

Leigh Woosey // Posted 19 February 2008 at 1:36 pm

Did Geisha’s traditionally have their feet bound? Or is that an accidental conflation of Asian body modification practices?

vibracobra // Posted 19 February 2008 at 2:43 pm

I’m thinking it’s a conflation, since foot-binding is Chinese, not Japanese, and geisha wear those things with thick, wooden soles.

Samara // Posted 19 February 2008 at 3:42 pm

I HATE all of this Real Woman schtick. It’s every bit as marginalising and prescriptive as the mainstream ideal – you’re not a Real Woman unless you’re a size 10-16 with modest-sized breasts. It plays into the idea that thin women are vacuous fashionistas, that large-breasted women are bimbos, and that only women with the requisite averagely sized and proportioned figure can be confident and intelligent…but of course, they are less “attractive”. ARRRGH!

Cara // Posted 19 February 2008 at 4:02 pm

Yes, foot-binding is a Chinese practice, not Japanese. Geishas had many crap things imposed on them in the name of beauty, such as having to sleep on wooden pillows to keep their hairdos intact, but foot binding was not one of them, as far as I know.

Liked the article otherwise though.

Lynne Miles // Posted 19 February 2008 at 4:20 pm

Oooh yes that is a bit odd with the baby booties! I should have been more precise… I searched flickr using a Creative Commons image search engine and got



Lynne Miles // Posted 19 February 2008 at 4:21 pm

Sorry for conflating the two – I had Chinese in the first draft and changed it for some reason. I think I was misremembering ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’.

vibracobra // Posted 19 February 2008 at 9:16 pm

“I searched flickr using a Creative Commons image search engine and got


I see what you mean, this is a little heavier on the arse coefficient.

Although I think I’m a little desensitized by some of the stuff that gets forwarded around at work.

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