Saturday, 17 April 2010

As If 'They' Weren't Making Enough Money From Women

This article was in today's edition of the Winnipeg Free Press. I found the Tush Tryouts section areas highly amusing...

No ifs, ands or butts

Padded undies give a guaranteed bum boost to those who feel they lack a delectable derrière

Padded undies give a guaranteed bum boost to those who feel they  lack a delectable derrière.

Padded undies give a guaranteed bum boost to those who feel they lack a delectable derrière.

A GOOD friend of mine who’s in his early 50s recently went to a seamstress to get a pair of pants altered. Although the woman spoke minimal English, she apparently had no trouble articulating the sartorial challenge before her.

"You got no bum," she told him.

My friend laughed it off, although he did start adding lunges and squats to his regular routine.

Little did he know that for less than $50 he could've just bought himself a butt.

Underwear that enhances -- nothing new under the sun for women -- may be the shape of things to come for more men as they feel the pressure to conform to their own unrealistic beauty standard.

When guys start worrying about how they look from behind, you know they're feeling it.

A Google search for "butt enhancers" reveals a buttload of options for maximizing your gluteus maximus without actually engaging that muscle (or undergoing a cosmetic procedure, although that option also seems to be gaining attention). Judging by the number of products targeted at men, you'd think the padded bra had switched teams and moved south.

Bottoms Up, a Toronto company founded by a one-time Winnipegger, sells customized briefs with removable contoured butt pads ($45.99) in three thicknesses (Quarterback, Halfback and Fullback). The latter will plump a rump up 2.7 centimetres. Men who prefer the full package deal can add Pouch Pads ($11.99).

Jack Timlock, a former costume and set designer who developed the undies, says business is booming, even though he has never advertised. (Sales reportedly doubled in 2008 when Regis Philbin held up a pair of Bottoms Up briefs on Live With Regis and Kelly.) Although he has shipped product to some 60 countries, Timlock says 95 per cent of his customers are in the U.S. The majority are male and many are gay.

Timlock says he sells to a lot of men with HIV who have lost the fat after years of taking antiretroviral drugs, as well as cancer patients and "a lot of seniors and people in wheelchairs," but he admits it's vanity that's keeping him in business.

"There are a lot of gay men who want bigger butts. However I also get a lot of wives buying for their husbands. They write and say, 'I'm tired of looking at him in those droopy pants,'" says Timlock, a former producer of Winnipeg's Rainbow Stage theatre. He and Bottoms Up co-owner, Rick Mucha, lived here from 1981 to 1994.

Kerri Christman, owner of Butt For You, also based out of Toronto, says her client base -- again mostly male -- runs the gamut from models, stuntmen, bikers and horseback riders to seniors who want extra padding in case they fall and even men looking to exact a little bootylicious revenge.

"I had one gent who wanted a pair FedExed overnight. He was going to his divorce hearing the next day. His wife had always complained he had no butt so he wanted to walk into the courtroom and show her that he had an ass," Christman says.

No doubt one of the reasons men are paying more attention to their rear ends is because women have become more outspoken about, and are placing more significance on, men's physical attributes. A generation ago, a comment like "Nice butt!" would be considered unladylike, if not vulgar. But today, thanks in no small part to the taboo-busting influence of Sex and the City, ogling and objectifying the opposite sex is no longer a solely male domain.

And vanity, thy name is no longer woman, that's for sure. Bottoms Up plans to launch a pec-pad shirt in the next year and Timlock says there are already more than 100 names on the waiting list.

All of this puts a new gender spin on the old question about false advertising: What happens when a guy who's enhanced to the nines gets into an intimate situation and his unsuspecting partner unwraps the package to discover it's all just padding?

"Maybe keep the lights off," Timlock suggests.

Tush Tryouts

Will a more bountiful booty enrich your life -- even if you have to stock the pantry with store-bought buns? We gave four Free Press employees a chance to answer that question by testing out some padded underwear. Here's their bottom line:

Bottoms Up Men's Butt Padded Briefs ($45.99)

Fit/comfort: They were more comfortable than I thought they might be. Even wearing fairly snug jeans, I could move around and sit down with ease.

Appearance: I'm a fairly fit and slim guy and I found they made my behind look disproportionately big.

Feedback: My girlfriend, when she stopped laughing, said they made me look heavier and that she's never lusted over a guy because his backside was well rounded.

Bootylicious?: They certainly enhanced my key measurements, but I'm not sure if I'd feel any more confident or alluring wearing two mega-sized shoulder pads strapped to my butt.

Bottoms Up Women's Butt Padded Boy Briefs ($39.99)

Fit/comfort: When sitting down, I found them pleasantly comfy, like sitting on a cushion. When standing and walking, I found they crawled into places they shouldn't. They need a redesigned crotch that doesn't have thick seams.

Appearance: The butt falsies made me feel I'd gained an instant five to 10 pounds. And their unsexy design could be a romantic mood-killer.

Feedback: Wearing them with jeans, I got nothing but positive comments, with both men and women telling me I looked younger, hotter, curvier and more bootylicious. Everybody said the look was natural, as if I'd been doing squats. They said my "junk" looked higher, rounder and more "grabbable."

Trying them with a much tighter pair of cords, I found them hotter and more uncomfortable, like a bulky extra layer of clothing. I got comments that the Bottoms Up created a diaper-like bulge -- a bump-out that was too abrupt to look natural.

Bootylicious?: This experience made me self-conscious about my real, flatter fanny. I started to feel inadequate for not exercising enough to beef it up and sort of guilty for taking a "shortcut" to a look that many women spend hours in a gym to achieve.

Would I actually wear the butt-boosters? Not a chance. But they do work as advertised.

Butt for You Men's Boxer Briefs ($36.95)

Fit/comfort: My butt stuck out so far, I was worried whether I'd be able to do up my pants. After you get used to the extra luggage, they're not half bad; they made long days sitting in an office chair more comfy.

Appearance: At first, I felt very on display -- like I had a big bubble butt.

Feedback: My boss was crying, she was laughing so hard. She said that even though she has never looked at my butt, she could tell there was something extra back there. Wore my bum to the Tim McGraw concert. I was there with a buddy who knew about my "project" and when we ran into a female friend of his, we asked her who she thought had the nicer bum. To my amazement, she said my buddy did.

Bootylicious: I've always gotten lots of attention from the ladies and thought for sure something more would happen with my new bum but it didn't.

Butt For You Women's Boyshorts ($36.95)

Fit/comfort: Reasonably comfortable, although likely hot in summer. Best use I found for them: slip on a pair as a built-in back cushion when you're about to sit on a hard-backed chair or pew.

Appearance: When I wore them under my dress pants, I looked a bit matronly from the rear. It reminded me of the bustles women used to wear in the 1800s. Under loose jeans, they filled me out sufficiently that I could throw away my belt. But frankly, the foam on my rear made me look like I'd put on weight. (Dress and undress alone, because the briefs look ridiculous on their own.

Feedback: My partner didn't notice at first, but when prompted to look more closely, offered that my shape looked "abnormal."

Bootylicious?: The Butt for You company won't be hiring me to do their infomercials any time soon. (Unfortunately, the pads are not firm enough to use as knee pads for canoeing.)

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 17, 2010

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