It is with some misgiving that I return, and so early in this bright New Year, to the subject of sagging women’s bottoms. But once again they are in the news and duty calls.
You may recall reading here of Professor Stephen Gray of Nottingham Trent University who has made it his life’s work to measure female buttocks. To date he has cast his callipers across no fewer than 8,000 specimens and his task has barely begun.
Let us pause, then, to wish him well and to hope the holiday break has left him refreshed and able to bring once again to his labours the vim and brio for which he is a byword wherever men pause to contemplate the beauty of the female form.
When last we encountered the professor we caught him in an unnaturally sour mood, his appetite for the job perhaps cloyed by overwork. Rather in the way that a carpenter might lament the poor quality of today’s timber or a stone mason the paucity of fine marble, Prof Gray declared, “Today’s bottoms are broader and saggier than they have ever been.”
He need not, however, have concerned himself; for beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder and there are those for whom breadth and sag are qualities beyond price. And yet, in this cold, mercenary world, everything has a price and the tag put upon the bottom around which this column is woven is 2.5m, with a first floor flat in Cadogan Square thrown in.
London estate agents Douglas and Gordon have broken with tradition by creating an advertisement which, rather than showing a picture of the two-bedroomed apartment, features a young woman hanging on to an open refrigerator door. The fridge contains nothing but bottles of champagne and the young woman is wearing nothing apart from a close-fitting black top and a pair of semi-transparent Gucci knickers.
But what catches the eye is neither the champagne nor the Gucci knickers but that the girl is possessed of a fashionably saggy bottom. Estate agents are, of course, amateurs at this game and it might have been better had they resisted the temptation to over-egg the pudding by implying that such was her sag that she had to hold on to a fridge door to keep herself upright.
But Ed Mead, the ad’s creator, is unambiguous about the importance he attaches to the bottom. “The flat is about sex,” he explains. “It is a power flat, which is more likely to appeal to men than women. We originally wanted to have the girl bending over the fridge,” he adds. (Well, why not? Today’s wide-angle lenses are capable of a verisimilitude undreamt of by the pioneers of photography.) “But we felt that CondÃ© Nast would draw the line on that.”
Touchingly, he confides, “We wanted to prove that estate agents and developers are not boring twits.” Here he seems to have missed the point: most people do not think of estate agents as twits but as devious, venal shysters who would not merely sell their own grandmothers but would do so to two different buyers at the same time.
That the ad features a saggy bottom of the female variety is another sure indicator that it is the work of an amateur.
Had the task been entrusted to an advertising professional, the buttocks would have been male and partially encased in Y-fronts, the remaining part comprising the builder’s cleavage which, to use a fashionable word, has become iconic. The background would feature an effortlessly superior and svelte female who would, through a sardonically curled lip, advise the young man that, if it was champagne he was looking for, he would be better off trying the fridge, not the oven.
Either way, the message is plain. As the Old Millennium reaches the final hurdle, spent, broken-backed and short of wind, it’s not sex that sells, it’s bottoms. And not any old bottoms, but saggy bottoms. Of course there are those who would argue – Prof Gray among them that drooping bottoms are the only kind presently available in the marketplace and that beggars cannot be choosers. That is nonsense. Buttocks come in all shapes and sizes you only have to look but the heavyweight is the fashion.
You don’t have to take my word for it. Alison Dean, a partner in the property advertising agency AMD, says of the ad for 64 Cadogan Square, “If I lived in a flat like that, I’d want a bottom like that.”
Quite so. Your bottom says something about you. It would be incongruous, ridiculous even, to own a flat valued at 2.5m, and to have an inappropriate bottom. Whatever would the neighbours say? It says much for the enterprising and ambitious quality of so many women today they they have gone to the trouble and expense of equipping themselves with rears that befit their aspirations.
A firm of estate agents in East Anglia is currently trying to sell a bungalow in Happisburgh, Norfolk, which is 60 feet from a crumbling cliff top and could slip into the sea within months.
Unquestionably a heaven-sent opportunity for transparent knickers, vintage champagne, the kind of buttocks that could pull a plough and the promise that here, if nowhere else, the Earth would surely move.