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Secret Life of an Expat: My Butt and Other Mysteries

I am pleased to say that after two years of writing for Fierce and Nerdy, I finally have enough material to write about one of my favorite preoccupations. My butt. After eighteen months of very sporadic freelance work, I finally have a regular job here in France.

AYA, a popular graphic novel (its sixth volume was just released) about a group of girlfriends living in the Ivory Coast in the 1970s is being made into a feature film. I am a member of the animation team for AYA the movie. I’ve been working nearly a month now, and it’s great. At the beginning, I had so much trouble getting the butt right in my posing that my supervisor, the illustrator of the books (whose name I will not mention lest he should Google himself and have this butt-focused blog come up in the search results) gave me a lecture on the difference between European and African butts, complete with diagrams, which I will also not publish here, though they are cute.

I’m a girl with ample junk in her own trunk, an artist who has been to Africa (a continent teeming with African butts) a few times, and I’ve always loved studying human anatomy. I should and do understand how butts work. Chalk it up to first week jitters.

The point was made even clearer to me with a recent purchase of some straight leg jeans. When you don’t have a job and your dollar has become a euro, which is worth more than a dollar yet has the same buying power (the MacBook Air: $999 in the U.S., €999—aka $1329—in France), it’s hard to drop money on designer jeans that are fitted for curvy butts. So I got them on sale.

Some of you girls might already know that buying a pair of straight leg jeans that passes a full set of hips and butt can lead to a gaping waistband that has to be cinched together with a belt. My jeans were so bad that they slid down, leaving the belt wrapped around my bare waist and holding just to the belt loops of the jeans. They bunched up at the waist and looked terrible. On inspection of other girls’ butts on the subway, no one else seemed to have this problem. A lot of white French girls have disturbingly perfect figures (skinny bodies, big boobs), so who cares about them. But I checked out the French girls of African descent, and even their jeans fit perfectly.

Where were they buying their jeans?

After a few months—yeah it took that long, genius doesn’t strike overnight—I figured it out. Alterations. I’d never even thought of approaching a tailor for butt modifications, only hems, so this was a major revelation. Our local tailor pinched and cinched and made little white marks on my jeans, rolling his Rs while he explained what he planned to do. I was so amazed that he could actually fix my jeans that I asked “and that will work?”

“Oui,” he says. “C’est ce que je fais pour les noires.”

Translation: It’s what I do for the black ladies.

There’s no secret curvy butt store. They’re getting their jeans tailored. Yes, do that! I exclaimed. Fix my butt!

When I got my jeans back, I held them up to M and told him the story. He took one look at the darts and the tight waistband and said “yep, that’s an African butt.” So here I am in France, walking proud with my belt-free white girl African butt.

As a sidebar, but sort of on topic because I danced my butt off at their concert the other night, I’d like to discuss Gogol Bordello. My favorite gypsy punk band played in Paris this week, and I’m wondering about their playlist. I want to put the question out there, has anyone been to a recent concert, and do you remember their opening and closing numbers?

Because…. in France, where Prez Sarkozy has set up a rather horrifying system of herding gypsies (Romas) into camps and deporting them, they opened with (what we considered an unusual choice) Tribal Connection, which goes a little like this:

I wanna walk this earth like it is mine
and so does everyone in our fun loving tribe
come on man is that real so much to ask
all these goddamn nazi feudals
but I’m gonna take it to community
cause I want everyone to see
there never was any conspiracy
and we are all here simply to sing
No can do this, no can do that,
What the hell can you do my friend
In this place that you call your town

And they closed with something a little more direct, Break The Spell:

Just because I come from Roma camp on the hill
They put me in a school for mentally ill
Opa, opa deedeeda
All their lies about Roma
Just because I do refuse to take your pill
Any road I take leads to the Bastille
Opa, opa deedeeda
And all their lies about Roma
You love our music but you hate our guts
And I know you still want me to ride the back of the bus
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
Opportunities for me is a red carpet to hell
But I’m a Roma wunderkind I’m gonna break the Break the spell

I’m curious to know if we French people were being scolded for our government’s attitude toward gypsies, or if they always open and close with these numbers. If you’ve seen them lately, or would care to talk about your own butt, please chime in below.

featured image credit: thatlunagirl