Is your bottom heading south?

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If you’re anything like us, you have a love/hate relationship with gravity. We’re delighted that it keeps us tethered to Planet Earth, but less–than–thrilled at the tricks it plays on a once–pert body. Because our bits – and probably your bits – are almost certainly Heading South. (Although when it comes to backsides, the reality that your rear is sliding off the hips and making a break for your knees is happily not one that we are confronted with that often. Wasn’t it kind of The Creator to put our bottoms behind us …?)

But there are moments – we’re thinking changing room mirrors here – when the truth is inescapable. And it is only a small comfort that everyone’s bottoms are getting bigger: hip measurements are apparently an inch–and–a–half more than they were 50 years ago. (Ah, so we’re not the only ones asking ‘does my bum look big in this?’). On the plus side, we have good reasons to thank heavens for living in the 21st Century, when science (and Lycra) are able to transform our rear views from flab to fab…

First, here’s the cheat. The fast–track to a gravity–defying backside is via the lingerie department –the deployment of Lycra.(Which as far as most women are concerned is right up there with the iPhone and a SkyBox as life–enhancing technological breakthroughs of the modern age.) You know how your stomach disappears when you suck it in? Bottom–lifting lingerie does the same, gently contouring without you having to exert yourself. (Menfolk take note, however: bum–lifting underwear jostles with anti–wrinkle creams for first place on the top of the list of presents we’re insulted to receive. We’re perfectly capable of buying our own, thanks.) Not for nothing has the founder of Spanx become the world’s youngest female billionaire (check them out for the full bottom-lifting, thigh-sucking, waist-erasing selection). But remember: once you take them off, it all hangs out again, so…

…work that butt! The muscles which make for firm buttocks are the gluteals (or ‘glutes’), the biggest power muscles in the body. Although walking (see MOVE IT!) is good for firming, a Stairmaster – or just climbing up and down stairs – can have a near–miraculous effect, if you’re dedicated. (To wit, this is so popular in L.A. that there’s a traffic jam every morning on the 100–stair staircase to Santa Monica beach). Squats are also a great way to shape buttocks because you don’t have to invest in any equipment – they’re one of Elle ‘The Body’ MacPherson’s favourite shapers. Simply stand with feet shoulder–distance apart, bend knees as if you were going to sit in a chair (but don’t let buttocks drop below knee–level). Squeeze buttocks and ‘power’ up to a standing position, keeping knees slightly bent. Try to squat to a point where knees are at a 90-degree angle; it’s the last three inches of motion that works gluteals. Repeat a dozen times, and build from there.

And some smooth talk. This is Jo coming clean: if she doesn’t work at it, her derrière develops bum develops what her husband refers to as ‘chicken skin’. (No need to describe it any more graphically than that.) The real point about bottoms is that no matter how great (or grim) they look, they need to be smooth and soft–to–the–touch. (After all, who cares what your bottom looks like in the dark…?) Exfoliation is the key – and body–brushing with a bristle brush also works wonders; top of our list of de-bumpers to be found on this site is Temple Spa Sugar Buff (after Temple Spa’s triumph with Skin Truffle in The Anti-Ageing Beauty Bible we’ve been working my way through their range, and love, love love this slurpy sugar scrub), and Green People Organic Sensuous Sugar Scrub. The key is to keep at it, regularly, every time you shower or bathe. (NB We personally hate scrubs with gritty ‘bits’ in, so both of these are the type which dissolve 100% in water; if there’s one thing worse than a less-than-silky bottom, it’s a silky bottom that’s sitting in a silt of pumice particles and crushed walnut shells, in the bath.)

A favourite masseur of ours, Leigh Richmond, long ago recommended self–massage once a week to break down bottom fat, with smoothing oils: add five drops of fennel and five drops of lavender oil to 10 ml. of sweet almond oil, and massage firmly into the buttocks using a pummeling motion. Many of the anti–cellulite potions on the market have a firming action, meanwhile, temporarily tautening and tightening while reducing the look of cellulite, and one of the best we’ve ever found is Weleda Birch Cellulite Oil, which has excelled with testers for our Beauty Bible series. But the key is to use it – and any cellulite-blitzer – regularly. When we investigate women’s claims that ‘cellulite products don’t work’, it often becomes clear they only use them once or twice a week. Fact: for results, it’s got to be daily. Or – even better – twice-daily.

Last but not least: move it. Perhaps the most effective way to prevent your backside sliding ever further southwards is simply to spend less time loafing around on it. It’s a simple fact: sitting encourages bottoms to spread and sag, because the muscles aren’t being used. So walk as much as possible, always, always use the stairs instead of escalators or lifts – and ditch those plans to move to a bungalow. So the bottom line is – use it, and lose it.

We’re not saying that you’ll never need a stiff gin after swimsuit shopping again, but at least you shouldn’t need therapy after accidentally catching sight of your rear view in a changing room mirror, in future…

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