In “¿Por qué incomodan los culos de JLo y Shakira?” Ana Teresa Toro (El País) writes, “JLo and Shakira’s sensual show raises complex questions about women. Do their solid, round, bouncing, glorious asses that move without any qualms make people uncomfortable?” [To understand the underpinnings of this article, it is necessary to get acquainted with specific cultural references, for example, the notoriety of Puerto Rican singer/performer Iris Chacón, her infamous coolant commercial, and perhaps to engage in a re-reading of Luis Rafael Sánchez’s La guaracha del Macho Camacho (Macho Camacho’s Beat)]. Here are just a few excerpts; read the full article in Spanish at El País.
[. . .] Chacón and the long list of performers who have worked on a similar aesthetic—from Tongolele to Sofía Vergara—pose a series of awkward questions both for those who criticize them and those who celebrate them.
[. . .] If the exercise of appropriation of a woman’s body comes by way of moderation and modesty in dressing, that’s wonderful. If, on the contrary, it manifests itself wrapped in bright fabrics while belly dancing or up on a pole spinning its curves, it’s doubly wonderful.
Many spectators of the halftime show by Nuyorican Jennifer Lopez and Colombian Shakira seem not to understand these dynamics as they police Caribbean bodies and levy fines. The hypocrisy is absolute. Countless U.S. artists have occupied that same coveted show space with less clothing, and without unleashing any judgments or furor.
The problem lies in the fact that they do not understand a maxim of the Caribbean: here, the body makes culture. The body thinks, articulates and gestures ideas, manifests history in a compelling way. It is not a mere consumer or product, it is a concept and an idea. The break in comprehending this filter in order to understand the world generates all kinds of discomfort.
These asses cause discomfort: the round, bouncing, vibrant, solid, glorious asses, which two women over 40 move without remorse; women who are mothers and icons of Latin and global music on their own merits. They do not cause discomfort only because they are kings in the contemporary empire of the buttock, where some pay thousands of dollars for implants to achieve a deluxe derriere; they cause discomfort because, with their presence, they speak about everything that is more comfortable to ignore. Those major buttocks speak about Afro-Caribbean music—Shakira danced champeta and JLo did the perreo with J. Balvin; they produce discomfort because, as they move those liquid hips, they remind us of the mix we are. They remind us of the Arab heritage as well as that of the Empire, with the slaveholding and painful history that underlies it. They produce discomfort, those bilingual asses, so typical of a sensuality tied to a culture that is so alien and intimidating to the Puritan spirit inscribed in the founding of the United States. Those defiant asses produce discomfort because, even while beating from side to side, they keep reminding us that the American Dream has been a failure for so many and that Puerto Rico—its oldest and most forgotten colony—is going to keep yelling at it, from a place deep within its entrails and in a Spanish that is as regional as Bad Bunny. Or perhaps, in addition to all this, what causes most discomfort is that, against all resistance, there, at the epicenter of the most eloquent metaphor of imperial mentality—American football, where progress is made by conquering terrain and taking down whatever is in the way—two bodies of Latina women have the power to speak in a language they don’t know, the language of the Caribbean, the unbearable fullness of the buttock.
[Excerpts translated by Ivette Romero. For full article (in Spanish), see https://elpais.com/elpais/2020/02/10/eps/1581351592_639125.html]