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2014 was a year of momentous change, of tragedy and joy. There are a lot of places you can go read about the most important events that transpired over the past year. But right here, right now, we want to talk about butts and nipples. The question: Which body part dominated in the year of our lord two thousand and fourteen?
In the interest of a civil and inclusive debate, we've broken down the evidence for both the butt and the nip's supremacy into three rounds: "Celebrity Endorsements in Song," "Celebrity Endorsements on Instagram and Twitter," and "The Numbers," which includes data-driven charts. The three batches of exhibits are followed by one closing argument for each body part. Then you vote. Judge wisely, friends. History depends on you.
ROUND 1:Celebrity Endorsements in Song
Where to even begin? An understated ditty like Jennifer Lopez's "Booty" featuring Iggy Azalea? Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass," which has spent 23 weeks on the Billboard chart and is still in the top ten? Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda" video, which featured so many mindboggling twerks that by the end, when Nicki slaps Drake's hand away from her ass, we all dropped dead? Jason Derulo's "Wiggle" featuring Snoop Dogg with lines like, "What you gonna do with all that butt? Wiggle with it." Or even Beyoncé's "7/11" video in which she does this:
And then of course this:
There's no one perfect example, but there are a lot of butts.
Miley covered a song for the movie Free the Nipple, if that even counts. It's called "Look What They've Done to My Song, Ma" by Melanie Safka. The movie's trailer is below. For better or for worse, it looks a bit like one of those MTV-produced films from the early aughts, like Jailbait.
ROUND 2:Celebrity Endorsements on Instagram and Twitter
And then wore this MTV VMA dress:
Butts: Kim Kardashian
Kim is arguably always having a butt moment, but here are her biggest this year:
1. She made a splash with a post-baby backside pic in a white one-piece (top middle).
2. She couldn't make it through her wedding to Kanye this summer without at least one butt-focused Instagram shot (top left).
3. British GQ named her "Woman of the Year," choosing to celebrate with naked pics from a low vantage point (bottom middle).
But one Kim Kardashian butt stands above the rest, and that butt was the oiled-up butt of #BreaktheInternet fame. The hashtag, like many others (even the ones with decent intentions), failed to achieve its stated goals. But it was still a big butt deal:
Recall that the full frontal version was less of thing, reason being it was released after the backside picture. Plus, the woman is just more famous for her butt. Like half the episodes of Keeping Up With the Kardashians are dedicated to her backside.
Butts: Jen Selter, Queen of "The Belfie"
She was a 'grammer like any other, but she had a butt and a gym membership, and she squatted and hashtagged, squatted and hashtagged until the civilian became a confusing cultural phenomenon, with major magazine spreads and product endorsements. Whatever we decide—butts or nips—can we all agree that 2014 was a strange, strange place?
Butts: Nicki Minaj's Anaconda cover:
Nicki's pin-up cover art caught some flack for being too racy, but the rapper took control of the conversation, flipping the criticism into a matter of hypocrisy with a quick, sharp joke on Instagram. Suddenly her butt was no longer just a butt like so many others. It was a statement, and she was a spokeswoman. See, for example, her take on the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover, which managed to break down the complex racial politics of our national butt obsession in three words:
Real. But this butt and the subsequent butts in the "Anaconda" video still raised a ton of questions for women. Jezebel, with the help of several contemporary feminist leaders, articulated those questions in a recent video called "My Anaconda Don't: Nicki Minaj's Ass And Feminism." As Hillary Crosley-Coker, the video's creator, declares by the end, "Perhaps having to look at a big black butt is exactly what our culture needs since we're so afraid of black female sexuality."
The nipple's most famous and constant supporter. Unlike Nicki on her own butt, Rihanna never really says anything political about her breasts. They're just constantly out there, or about to be out there, breaking down the nipple's shock value one sheer top at a time.
And many cried nipple injustice when Instagram deleted Rihanna's account, @BadGalRiRi (arguably the best celebrity feed of all time), after she posted this Lui Magazine cover:
Nipples: Cara Delevingne
The British model/actress devised a simple "Free the Nipple" diagram this past summer. The explainer was geared toward Instagram's policy of censoring female nipples while male nipples roam free, waving their epidermal sovereignty in the faces of social platform users with total impunity.
Nipples: Chelsea Handler
Should you still be confused over the meaning of the "Free the Nipple" movement, comedian Chelsea Handler has embarked on her own explanatory crusade.
Nipples: Keira Knightley
The actress caused a small stir this spring when she appeared topless in Interview Magazine, but she got more attention this November when she shed a little light on the why and the how of the thing. As she explained to The Times, she had specific guidelines for how her breasts could look, and those were, to paraphrase, "they will look how they look."
"I've had my body manipulated so many different times for so many different reasons, whether it's paparazzi photographers or for film posters," Keira noted. So instead of falling victim to the heavy hand of ye Photoshop gods again, she proposed to Interview, "OK, I'm fine doing the topless shot so long as you don't make them any bigger or retouch." She wanted to say that "it really doesn't matter what shape you are" with her boobs.
Nipples: Miley Cyrus
The leader of the fight to make nipple pasties and tassles de rigueur upped her game in 2014.
Nipples: Breastfeeding in public, pregnant naked celebrities, fashion, and more.
You can't really roll mothers' breastfeeding rights up with pregnant womens' reclamation of their sexuality, combine that with "Free the Nipple" celebrity endorsements (hey, Scout Willis), and then sauce that heavily with fashion's pro-nipple POV. Each faction of nipple freedom fighters has its own challenges and its own triumphs. But when you consider them all together from altitude, the rising tide of nippledom can't be ignored.
Instagram: #FreeTheNipple vs. #Belfie
Due to Instagram censorship of #butt and other obvious choices, it was tough to isolate just one galvanizing hashtag that compares to the straightforward #FreeTheNipple campaign. We chose #belfie because of its Jen Selter-moment in the early part of the year. Probably thanks to fitspo and the pro-butt moment, it crushed nips pretty soundly. "Belfie" also isn't a cause like #FreeTheNipple, so it's appealing to those who save Instagram for selfie dispersal and snacktime documentation.
Twitter: #FreeTheNipple vs. #BreakTheInternet
Since Twitter is at its best around events and causes, we stuck with #FreeTheNipple (the movie debuted this month) and #BreakTheInternet, the hashtag referring to Paper Magazine's issue with Kim's glistening derrière on the cover. Frankly, nipples never really had a chance.
Smut: Pornhub Insights
Should you want to ignore all the cultural, feminist, and/or racial implications of butts versus nips, and judge solely on what America was spanking it to this year, Pornhub has that info for us. And we were, resoundingly, spanking it to butts:
FOR BUTTS, AGAINST NIPS
Nobody is arguing that, in 2014, we as a culture didn't get repetitively smacked over the head with butts. Everywhere we looked, we saw a butt. And we loved it. We wanted MORE BUTT, and so butt-centric songs and videos and art were created for us to try to sate our need and carry us into 2015. Even Vogue realized butts exist, and Vogue hates bodies.
Speaking of Vogue, nipples have been in fashion for years and years and years. Sheer tops and netting and Madonna. There weren't even any great nip slips this year—just a ton of intentional nipples, sitting there, being nipples.
FOR NIPS, AGAINST BUTTS
Butts? Are you serious? How are 2014's butts any better than 2013's butts? How are they better than the butts of Destiny Child's "Bootylicious?" Or the butts of Mos Def's "Ms. Fat Booty" from 1999? Or the butts of "The Thong Song" also from 1999? Does Sisqo mean nothing to you anymore? Dedicating the whole year to butts is a slap on the much-loved butt cheeks of asses past.
Also, while every woman is born with nipples, not everyone has the ass of an Amber Rose. When Nicki Minaj's says in "Anaconda," "I wanna see all the big fat ass bitches in the motherfucking club, fuck you if you skinny bitches," it doesn't sound like the all-inclusive utopia of self-love and body contentment that 2014 once promised. It's just another shape ladies have to try to be.
On the contrary, #FreeTheNipple says nothing about the size and shape of women's nips; it's just the fight to bare them on Instagram, really the only nip-bearing platform that matters. But thanks to the good work of Rihanna and others in 2014, that might change.
TIME TO VOTE
Was 2014 the "Year of the Butt" or the "Year of the Nipple?"