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Rear views set off bottomless debates - desi & videshi

Row on 10 extra pounds on J Lo's wax figure at Tussauds' has led to a rush of people, writes Saumya Balsari.

india Updated: Jan 08, 2004 23:47 IST
Saumya Balsari
Saumya Balsari

People News has just reported that Jennifer Lopez insists Madam Tussauds should shave ten pounds off the rear of her waxwork figure. She thinks it looks too big and unflattering. Tussauds, however, appear unlikely to comply or co-operate, as they claim to have worked to accurate measurements (Star).

The impasse can only swell the queues of visitors to Madame Tussauds. The current and quickest dash is to view Britannia’s most coveted rear, that of Kylie Minogue. Desi visitors are, of course, unaffected by the row. They only queue to view the Big B waxwork. Appu, Jhappu and Pappu fall in line to pose familiarly with the star’s likeness (dad sneakily takes a second picture - Minogue’s).

Jane Austen was to write in Mansfield Park (1814), ‘Of Rears and Vices, I saw enough. Now, do not be suspecting me of a pun, I entreat.’ In truth, polite desi vocabulary does not permit puns, or indeed words describing body parts, nor even euphemisms. Jokes on the ‘rear admiral’, the ‘rear guard’ or the ‘rear carriages’ are outré.

There is also complete incomprehension over the British penchant for naming places ‘Six Mile Bottom’, or the pub clarion call, ‘Bottoms Up!’ And a surname called Sidebottom? In fact, the rear simply does not exist in desi anatomy. The sari and the shapeless salwar kameez take care of the rest.

British women, we are told, recite a daily anthem: ‘Does my bum look big in this?’ The question is rhetorical. A trick question, never to be answered with ‘Yes’ (somewhat like ‘Are you asleep?’). The savvy male while refuting, adds: ‘Would I lie?’ or ‘Believe me, I’d be the first to let you know’. This faux honesty earns him extra brownie points. He earns more for never photographing her waist downwards.

On to feminist thoughts. The majority of the world’s female population thinks of survival rather than cellulite. And traditionally, large-hipped women in Africa, Latin America and the Indian subcontinent have been seen as evidence of a man’s prosperity. The word ‘rear’ also means to bring up and care for young children or animals until they are fully grown.

So why should a woman’s rear become the seat of all her insecurities? Why should she hit bottom over a longer measure tape? Bridget Jones was supposed to have made Marks and Spencer’s large, sturdy six-pack cotton briefs look trendy. But size evidently matters. So it’s Posh-endorsed twiglet, thin-as-cheesewire lingerie that symbolises the aspiration: Small is beautiful. And you can never be too thin. Less is more. As Jenny from the block, who worked her way up from the bottom, is discovering.

The bottom line is more or less simply this: When did you last hear a man ask, ‘Does my bottom look big in this?’ Did Clinton ask? We’ll never know. And judging from what’s been said about the contents of the book, Hillary Clinton’s not telling. Anything, that is. Do Bush and Blair ever look in the rear view mirror? Hindsight can be trickier than vision.

Poor J. Lo! Art is sometimes larger than life.

First Published: Jan 08, 2004 23:47 IST