Racism in the dictionary: Steatopygia vs Callipygian

9-21-2014 1-29-56 PM

By Shareef Hameed

In the Webster Dictionary and encyclopedias , they have racist and stereotypical words for black women. Look up “steatopygia” which is Greek and means excessive fat on the buttocks especially in Hottentot or Negro women. Look at the picture on the left that is suppose to depict this “disease” of African women.

Now the Greek word to explain a “normal” or nice butt is called “callipygian” which means having shapely buttocks or a waist. Look at the photo on the right, which is of a statute of Venus, a Greek Goddess.

What the white men who publish dictionaries are saying is that if you have some junk in the trunk which women from all races have, you have the disease of steatopygia which is attributed to only black women by using the photo of Sarah Bartmann also known as Venus Hottentot who was exploited in Europe and put on display as if she was a freak show.

However, according to the definition of callipygian, if you have a flat, pancake ass like Venus the Greek Goddess then you a “normal” or “beautiful” ass but by using the photo of Venus, the assumption is that only white women have this characteristic.

These words should be taken out the dictionary as they have no common usage in language and especially since it seems most women are doing all they can to pump up their “gluteus maximus either by exercising or by silicon or fat injections. White men have always loved the shape of Black women going back to chattel slavery and present day pop culture but they also demonize Black women at the same time.

Look up these two words for yourself. The imagery is very powerful but it is my intent to show Black people in the light they deserve which is greatness, intelligent, proud and a wonderful people.


23 Replies to “Racism in the dictionary: Steatopygia vs Callipygian”

  1. Steatopygea is not a disease, it’s just a distinct body characteristic like red hair or brown eyes. Women of all races tend to have more fat on the buttocks than men, and even within races, it varies among individual women. It just so happens that there are certain populations of African decent who have even more fat in the buttocks than is usually found in other populations. “Callipygian” doesn’t mean “flat buttocks”, it means “beautiful” buttocks, and is open to some degree of interpretation. Also, there have been many different depictions of Venus and other Greek (or other European) female figures, and some have more buttock development than others, although it’s true that you probably won’t see one with the full African steatopygian degree of development because that was rarely seen outside of specific parts of Africa at the time that those statues were made, but they’re not all “flat”, and that’s not what calipygian means.

  2. The definition of “callipygian” does NOT include the phrase “flat buttocks”. That is NOT the definition of that word. It doesn’t even specify EUROPEAN, WHITE, or any other race. It just means “shapely buttocks”, which is open to some degree of interpretation. You’re all arguing over a bogus, imaginary argument made up by some idiot on the Internet. Congratulations on being gullible.

  3. It seems that you will learn all about this subject if you visit Tumblr.com after searching on the appropriate words, such as “ebony booty.” This can hardly be called racism, since it is mainly AA males who establish, share, and promote the photo collections you will find at the Google search to which a link is provided below. Enjoy!
    http://tinyurl.com/ybh3wyx7

  4. It is a sad condition. The fact that it is celebrated, mostly by black males, is also sad, and racist. We should not encourage women to have fat asses if they can help it. It is an unattractive deformity that some sick black males consider attractive.

    • It’s not a deformity, you nicompoop. Black people celebrate this evolutionary trait as part of their phenotype. That’s like saying white people should mourn the loss of melanin after moving to the northern parts. To each their own, this is clearly not yours.

    • Negro is originally referring to Niger-type west Africans and Sudanic peoples including them… they don’t have staetopygmia and have slender medium short bodies, most are 5′ 2″ to 5′ 10″. Nilotic and Khoisan peoples have staetopygmia traits but the Germans compared “Nubian” Kenyans and Sudanese to Black Superhumans. And all tropical people outside of Africa have “Caucasoid, Indian, Australoid, Malay-Polynesian (South Sinoid) or Neomongoloid (American native) types.

  5. You should get a hobbie like reading or travelling. That body type is not the norm. The word is a medical term used to describe the extra fatty deposits that develop in the butt and upper thigh areas. Even if it is more prevalent in people of African descent it still isn’t the norm. Stop grasping at air. Why not try actually changing something that actual affects black people: like the way black women portray themselves in the media; loud, aggressive and promiscuous.

  6. Much ado about nothing. The original poster is assuming that everyone using this word is going to have the same point of view as that particular dictionary’s editors. Remember beauty is in the eyes of the beholder!

    The fact that one group of Dictionary editors choose to depict it in a particular way doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone who uses the word has this Venus ideal in mind. Personally I don’t think a flat butt is beautiful; I don’t see how anyone could.

  7. This is silly! This is a clinical term. The worst part about this whole discussion is that you argue with someone who says they are the embodiment of the term, and question THEIR interpretation!!! There is enough REAL racism that we don’t need to search for and create it. Perpetuating these types of pseudo-racism weaken the argument and fight against REAL bigots and racists!!

  8. I think it is racist when the word “excessive” is used because it implies that the norm is to have a flat butt. Why is callipygian not described as an “inadequate” amount of fat in the buttock region. Rather it is described in flattering terms — shapely buttocks — asserting that the norm is to have that type of butt. It would be interesting to see a study of buttock types and see on a bell curve what the actual “norm” is worldwide.

    • Maybe because the culture that created the terms was of white ppl? White women have other genetic traits more common and large bottom of this shape is unusual for them. You think that African tribal culture consdered European small bottoms attractive? That they would change their definition of beauty to include flat bum not to be racist? No, because obviously everybody has a right to deem attractive whatever they want to. If they would make comparisons they would also see their most popular traits as standard.

      Callipygian is a historical term considering Ancient beauty standards in Mediterranean area. Steatopygia however doesn’t describe a beauty standard but physical differences in fat deposit when the fat tissue of the area has layers of connective tissue that allows angle of 90° between back and bottom and prevents it from sagging. It is not just big bum, its beauty or cultural meaning.

      I wonder why Black ppl doesn’t have problem with Japanese Geishas being praised for their small Asian figures and at the same time European love for their bodies celebrated in any way is something “racist”.

  9. You’re reading too much into this. I’m a Bantu and hence a descendant of the Khoisans and how fat deposits around my body is a genetic phenotype that’s a characteristic to this group of people. I don’t know if you know this, but one can often tell different African sub-groups by the exaggeration of some features or at times not proportional. People have been describing new things with literal Greek works and these become the root of most commonly used English words today. This article is negative, biased and rather shallow :/

    • edna..don’t think so…where did you read or interpret this..I am a professor and would like to know where you retrieved your information.

      • You’re a professor, yet don’t capitalize sentences, abuse ellipses, fumble using a period, and forgot to use a pronoun?

        BULLSHIT. You are a liar.

    • You need to wake up. It’s an insulting term that describes your body as abnormal or freakish. Do you think the size of Khoisan women’s thighs and butts are “excessive”? If so, that what is normal and appropriate in your mind?

      • Michael and Edna = good job. Jane = some get off on claiming victimization. Some get confidence. Drop the poor victim picture. Get an education. Burn Enquirer and go to the library. You will emjoy reading. Might even get addicted. Most of all, enjoy yourself and celebrate your ancestry. Explore your geneology. It’s fun. Maybe you’ll find a sheep thief like I did.

    • Some Bantus are mixed with Khoisan and Nilotic people who have A group in males, most Bantus are E3 and descended from ancient Cameroonian. Also the Bantu people tended to displace, kill and dominate other groups in Sub Congo Africa (2000 BC to recent).

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