The birth of #sundaybumday
A few years ago, I posted a pic of my butt on the internet and used the hashtag #sundaybumday. It was a joke, a bit of fun - very much tongue in cheek (NO PUN INTENDED HAHA). Little did I know, I had started a thing. Pole dancers love Sunday Bumday! It's spread all around the world. And sometimes people sometimes ask me, how did this whole #sundaybumday thing come to be?
A historical perspective on "body fashion"
I was a child of the 80s, a decade of extravagantly wild fashion and phenomenal (but often weird) music. Being born in the 80s meant that unfortunately I missed out on being a teenager in the 80s, which would have been amazing. All that acid wash denim, the crimpy hair, the shoulder pads, the dangly earrings, the geometric prints, the g-string leotards, the leg-warmers… All of that stuff I could have really got involved with! Women were powerful-looking in the 80s - bold, bright, striking, and confident.
Instead, I was a teenager in the 90s. The 90s was a decade characterised by the “waif” look, made famous by a (very) young Kate Moss. In the 90s, the fashion was to be thin, pale and large-eyed, like a street urchin. The models I saw in fashion magazines were very skinny, so much so that the look was also called “heroin chic”.
Back when I wasn't ready for this jelly...
At about this time I started to grow. Physically, my body was changing, at a time when all the magazines were telling me that to be beautiful, you had to be skinny and childlike. But my thighs were growing, my hips were widening, my butt was getting bigger… And I hated it.
To be clear, I know that there are many bums bigger, more bountiful and beautiful than mine. But to my confused teenage eyes, mine was enormous and embarrassing.
I felt so unbelievably self-conscious about body. I hated my new curves. I hated the stretch marks on my hips. I felt so humiliated that my body was exploding and growing so fast that my own skin couldn’t even keep up. Grown men started staring at me. I was so confused and embarrassed by what was happening to me. I just wanted to look like Kate Moss.
All of my teenage years were spent trying to stay skinny and go back to looking like a little girl. I hated my body. I felt disgusted by it. I developed an eating disorder. I was obsessed with losing weight, and starving myself.
Then, in 1999, Jennifer Lopez burst on to the music scene with If You Had My Love, and then in 2001, Destiny’s Child released Bootylicious. Suddenly, having a butt was a good thing! How could that be? I felt so confused. Could it be possible that having a butt could be a good thing? Even though the whole world had just been saying that it wasn’t?
As I went through my 20s in the 2000s, I began to make peace with my body. I began to appreciate it, stretch marks, cellulite and all. And when I discovered pole dance in 2006, well, that’s when I realised how useful a booty can really be! You can shake it, you can use it to grip the pole, it’s excellent cushioning for a drop split, and don’t get me started on the sheer visual appeal of the gluteal fold!
One day I was musing about how funny it was that I had spent so many years hating a part of my body that I had now come to appreciate. I realised how stupid it was that we take one body type, make it “fashionable”, encourage everyone to idolise that body type, and then make everyone else feel bad about themselves. I was well aware that big butts wouldn’t stay in fashion forever, so I thought to myself, I might as well take advantage!
So I just snapped a lil pic of my butt, and posted it on Instagram. I was immediately embarrassed, but I was also a little bit proud of myself. To me, it showed how far I’d come in terms of learning to accept and appreciate my body, in that I was posting a photo of a part of my body I had always reviled and loathed. The sky didn't fall in, so I started posting a few butt selfies every now and again. I felt VERY daring haha.
One day I happened to post a booty pic on a Sunday, so for a bit of a joke, I used the hashtag #sundaybumday. "Let's get that hashtag started!", I said.
At the time, all the other pictures using that hashtag were of people lying in their pyjamas on the couch, being couch potatoes on a Sunday. I (very considerately) blurred the pic, for "sensitive types", which makes me laugh given the level to which #sundaybumday has now escalated! Gosh, we were so innocent back then!
2 March 2014: The Original #sundaybumday
The next Sunday, I did it again. And the next. A few other pole dancers began doing it to. And then it started to spread like wildfire in the pole world. As it turned out, the pole community was full of women who were happy to celebrate their beautiful bums once a week, and to admire their friends’ bums too. It’s now gone beyond the pole world - at the moment, there are over 300k posts on instagram using the hashtag.
#sundaybumday: Then and Now!
It’s only a silly thing, but I love seeing people have fun with it. It makes me laugh when I’m on tour in a non-English speaking country, and I’m listening to the students in my workshop speaking another language, and all I can understand is “blah blah blah blah blah Sunday Bumday?” And I know they are about to ask me if they can take a Sunday Bumday photo. Makes me laugh every time!
It’s not going to change the world, but I’m happy for my little legacy of #sundaybumday, especially if it makes anyone feel better or more confident about their body. If ever it makes anyone feel bad about their body, then that would make me sad. But the thing to remember is that fashion, especially when it comes to “body type fashion”, is DUMB. Don’t make the mistake that I made as a teenager, and believe that there is something wrong with your body type just because it doesn’t look like whatever is in the magazines at the moment.
And I love that there is something a little bit wild, a little bit rebellious, in saying, "fuck it, I think my body is beautiful and I'm going to share it." Especially the part of your body that society most likes to tell us is problematic. I mean, how many stereotypes exists out there of women being worried whether "my butt looks big in this??" On #sundaybumday, we take the small but revolutionary step of saying that we don't care, and we love our bootys (booties? I'm never sure haha), just the way they are, big, small or medium.
And if you’ve never posted a Sunday Bumday because you’re not sure how to go about it, here are my tips. Make the most of whatever you’ve got! Put on a pair of cute shorts or knickers (making sure that ample gluteal fold is exposed), arch your back, pop your hip to the side, and pose. Put your camera on video mode and then pose in a bunch of different ways. Screenshot your favourite pose, choose a filter, take a deep breath and press POST! And remember, if anyone doesn’t like it, then they’re just not ready for this jelly!
Michelle Shimmy xxx
PS This blog first appeared in a shorter version in Alessandra Izzo's brilliant creation, A Brief History of Australian Pole Dance. If you want a copy, she has a couple of extras so hit her up on email@example.com
Sunday Bumday Around the World!
Thanks for sending in your pics!