I’ve built a lot of my online persona — okay, my real-life persona, too — on having a nice ass. Probably not inconsequential either is my willingness to show it off on Instagram. Because — surprise, surprise — posts where I’m in a bikini get a lot more likes than pictures of my 110-page undergraduate thesis. And so, I’ve allowed my account to become a document of my less intellectual pursuits — namely, my ass.
For 29-year-old Justin (@_whitegirlsevolving_) and 35-year-old Reynaldo (@dailythickpawgs) white-girl butts like mine have become an actual business. At first, both of them were merely curators of internet hotties. But the Instagram Ass Economy proved to be a boon for them — same for the sizable increase in white-girl demand for big butts. After a few years of reposting pics then, their Instagram accounts got big enough that women were paying them for placement there. With 307,000 and 148,000 followers respectively, being shared on @_whitegirlsevolving_ or @dailythickpawgs brings these women new followers, and in turn, new opportunities for modeling, OnlyFans and premium Snapchat customers and sponsorships.
Renaldo and Justin do reposts for $10 to $100 each. The prices range depending on how many photos are shared, if they’re posted on the grid or in the story and other levels of promotion. Justin says he gets about 10 requests a day. “On a good picture, something that gets 7,000 likes or more, [the girls in the picture] average around 1,500 new followers. On a post that gets 3,000 to 5,000 likes, it’s about 500 to 700 followers,” he claims. For girls who care about their follower count — I’ll admit that I’m one of them — that’s not a bad deal.
Neither Reynaldo nor Justin make enough from their Instagram accounts to quit their day jobs, but it’s a nice stream of extra income. Not to mention, they’re getting paid to do something they love. “I like clear, good quality photos, pretty girls, big butts, not too small not too big, it’s gotta be perfect,” Justin explains. His specific taste is largely the Instagram fitness model type, where the booty is big mostly in proportion to the girl’s tiny waist. (Of course, she’s toned all over.)
Reynaldo’s preference, as his Instagram handle suggests, is pawgs, or Phat-Ass White Girls. There’s not a certain measurement or size for what defines a pawg in terms of ass size, but Reynaldo believes a pawg is determined by her “thick thighs and round butt. Thicker women can fall into that category because to be considered a thick pawg, you need to have some meat. Don’t get me wrong — there are some slim pawgs out there, but the booty cuff is what’s most important when it comes to a nice ass. It’s what makes the booty stand out.”
Most of the women on Justin’s account would fit Reynaldo’s definition of “slim pawgs,” a category he confirms I’m a part of. For the sake of journalism, he agrees to post me on his page for free. I wanted these photos to be good — better than what I already had in my arsenal — so I decided to take some new ones. It was hard work. Finding the right pose that made my butt look big, my waist small and my face human was a tall order. It took several dozen tries to get right, and by the end, I was sweaty and mildly shaky from holding poses. I liked at least a few of the photos I’d taken, though. (Justin’s take: They “weren’t bad,” but I should have focused on my ass more.) After he posted them, the response was swift. Within a few hours, I’d accumulated 150 new followers, a handful of new freaky comments and a few direct messages.
As the name suggests, the Phat-Ass White Girl is specific to white women. Used in porn and by camgirls, it’s more or less a fetish. That said, while Reynaldo’s account features only white women, he says, “I’m hispanic, but I love all races. I don’t discriminate. But the evolution of white women has been phenomenal. Back in the early 1990s, I didn’t notice too many thick white women. It was usually Latin women and African Americans dominating the booty game. But after like 2010 and 2012, I started to see more and more pawgs everywhere.”
An obvious early marker of the status of the ass is Sir Mix-a-Lot’s 1992 song “Baby Got Back”:
Oh, my, God Becky, look at her butt
It is so big, she looks like
One of those rap guys’ girlfriends
But, ya know, who understands those rap guys?
They only talk to her, because,
She looks like a total prostitute, ‘kay?
I mean, her butt, is just so big
I can’t believe it’s just so round, it’s like out there
I mean gross, look
She’s just so, black
Sir Mix-A-Lot and his girlfriend at the time, Amylia Dorsey-Rivas, who voices the “Oh, my, God Becky” bit, were both parodying Eurocentric beauty standards and praising curvier bodies on the song.
“Back in the day, white girls were known for being just skinny or tall and skinny, but now we look at this generation of them being as sexy as any other race out there,” says Justin when I ask him why he posts only white women on his account even though he himself is Latino. He thinks the popularity of big butts among white women comes from the popularity of twerking — another thing that’s not new to women of color.
In 2013, Four Pins, now part of Complex, reported that it had “noticed something for a while now, bubbling, percolating in the ether: White girls are evolving.” From there, memes about pawgs flourished, some tongue-in-cheek, others a genuine display of infatuation with white women doing things women of color had been doing for years.
A year later, Vogue published a since-deleted article declaring “We’re Officially in the Era of the Big Booty.” In a response for Very Smart Brothas, writer Alisha Tillery outlined the argument of the Vogue article, and dissected the problem with calling big butts a trend:
“What’s so maddening about appropriation is whenever the mainstream decides something is favorable or trendy, it’s snatched up immediately with no warning. The very thing that was an eyesore or embarrassment is now a high commodity. Our bodies, our hairstyles, fashion, our mannerisms and conversation styles ARE NOT must-have accessories… It’s what we wake up in every damn day. Stop trying to make the dear pieces of us ‘a thing.’ I got this from my momma, so it’ll never be ‘last season’ to me.”
Reynaldo and Justin don’t think much about the racial politics of their accounts, however. To their way of thinking, they’re just showcasing something rare and unusual. “I find white women with thick thighs and a nice plump ass to be appealing because, like I mentioned before, Latin and African American women always took the shine when it came to nice thick asses, but now when you see an ass that big on a white girl, it’s a beautiful thing,” Reynaldo says. “It’s different from what I was used to years ago.”