Does my bum look big in this?
Most women spend their lives trying to reduce the size of their bottoms. But recently, toned and curvy stars such as Jennifer Lopez have sparked a trend for a rear that is designed to be noticed. Now, tapping into that trend, Wonderbra has launched a new pair of pants — the Curves Up — that claim to give you your very own J-Lo posterior. FEMAIL asked two writers to test them out.
SADIE NICHOLAS, 33, lives in Nottingham with her partner, Jon Enever, 32, a chartered surveyor.
'Does my bum look big in this?' I ask my bemused-looking other half. The long sigh, roll of the eyes and exasperated 'no' that usually meets my favourite question was replaced, for once, with a brutally honest: 'Massive. Have you eaten your entire month's chocolate this morning?'
Er, nope. No calories required for today's derriere expansion. The contraption responsible for my rotund bottom is a pair of padded, bottomenhancing pants. Considering I've spent most of my adult life exercising like mad to keep my backside from ballooning to gargantuan proportions, it feels slightly odd to be voluntarily wearing padded knickers to make it, er, bigger.
Dare I go for my normal morning workout at the gym wearing the pants under my very clingy cycling shorts? I put them on and laugh out loud as I look in the mirror. My bottom looks as if it belongs on the body of Jessica Rabbit.
In the gym, I feel so conscious of my enormous rump that I can't bear to go on the treadmill — I can almost hear the sniggers of the people working out on the cross trainers on the row behind. I opt for the safety of the bike instead and discover that the padding — which I've dubbed the Wonderbutt — is actually a brilliant way of avoiding saddle sores.
In fact, it's so comfortable that I ponder how its designers could make a fortune marketing it to women on long haul flights or football fans who have to sit on cold, hard seating for 90 minutes.
But with 30 minutes clocked up on the bike and a growing paranoia that everyone else in the gym is poking fun at my bottom, I'm out of there. I've long had a love-hate battle with my natural curves — more hate than love — so I feel very anxious as, next up, I don the pants under my jeans ready for a shopping trip into Nottingham.
My jeans feel tighter thanks to the extra inches and I half expect to trap my bottom cheeks in a shop doorway since it takes them an extra second to follow the rest of my body in.
Thankfully, I don't get wedged and hotfoot it to the changing rooms to try on a dress. It fits perfectly but when I turn to check out my sideways profile in the mirror I'm vaguely hysterical. I look less J-Lo-esque and more pantomime dame with my huge backside.
'Wow, amazing curves,' says the shop assistant enthusiastically.
'Hmmm,' I reply, studying her expression to see if she's trying to stifle a giggle. I draw the curtain and whip off the pants to see what the dress looks like without them. For the first time in my adult life I look at my backside with fresh eyes — without the padding it suddenly looks quite normal and in proportion, instead of being the usual source of much fretting about my figure.
Perhaps these things are the perfect psychological boost for women with a poor body image — you always feel better about yourself when you take them out! To be fair if you've got a shapeless or saggy bum then the Wonderbutt could be your saviour, but personally I was delighted to get my old bottom back.
ALICE SMELLIE, 33, lives with her husband, Justin, and their two young sons, Oscar and Archie, in West London.
'What's the point?' asks my husband, a man who likes pretty skinnies such as Keira Knightley.
'Why would anyone want a bigger bum?' I have to concur. In the past two years I have had two babies. As I have painstakingly lost the pregnancy pounds, all of my extraneous body fat has gradually relocated tomy buttocks — quitting such vitalareas as my boobs.
But the pants are made by my good friend Mr Wonderbra, who has seen me through years of low-cut tops, and when I read the blurb on the packet it suggests that my bottom will become peachy, rather than over-padded.
The effect is supposedly tantamount to having spent weeks of intensive training at the gym. But, when I take them out of the packet, the Curves Up do little to fuel my enthusiasm. They look like a pair of granny pants, but with two half-orange shaped pads in the back. It's as though someone has sewn an extra pair of buttocks into them.
As far as I can tell, holding them up to the light, they are going to add a good half-inch to an already substantial amount of padding.
Even on Wonderbra's promotional material the girl — flatbottomed to the point of boyishness under the pants — looks alien, with sticky-out buttocks perched on her far-too-thin thighs. I ease them on in the kitchen, to the irritation of my husband, who is trying to watch the cricket. Without jeans on I look as though I have tried to put my Wonderbra pads down the back of my pants. It is not an appealing sight.
'Does my bottom look more pert?' I ask. 'If you go out like that, someone might pinch you,' he says mysteriously. I look at myself in the mirror, and he is quite right.
My buttocks certainly look higher, and pinchable, but they are also substantially bigger. If I look closely I can see the outline of the padding through my jeans, and when I put my hand in my pocket there is a disturbing extra bit of wadding.
In a tight dress I am more impressed. I do look much more pert, but the overall effect is a bit extreme — as though I could balance a pint of beer on it. From the back I admit, they look great — as though I've spent the past five months clenching my buttocks.
'I wear them out that night for a drink with some girlfriends. As I walk into the bar I feel horribly selfconscious.
Pushing one's boobs up is one thing, pushing up buttocks somehow is even more personal. Two of my friends are hysterical, also having recently had children and utterly unable to comprehend wanting a bigger bottom. The others are more circumspect.
'They'd be handy if you had uncomfortable seats at Wimbledon,' suggested one, 'You could put off unwanted male attention,' pointed out another.
Was it, we wondered, cheating potential suitors if you wore padding in your pants. For many years the accepted wisdom regarding Wonderbras has been that they look great on, but might be a bit misleading when you get home.
Does the same philosophy apply to these? The only useful suggestion was that they might look good under a very tight dress at a black tie do. There is a place for this product, but it's not on my backside.
And no, I didn't even get pinched for my trouble.