I was a squashy and bookish teenager, with berserk hair and pimples that were bigger than my boobs. Hence, PE was as fun as giving a grizzly bear a body massage. Weekly, I was hauled into the Sweaty Pit of Squeaky Doom, the gym, to be shouted at for not trying hard enough.

It's probably why I hate perky pep talks like, "if you cheat you're only cheating yourself!" (Well, duh. That's why I did it.) But the only other memory it left me is being told, "this is how we get the J-Lo butt!"

This must have been roughly in 2010, just at the start of the modern phenomenon; the cult of the bountiful booty.

This exploded into teen Kiwi girls' consciousness in 2011, with Pippa Middleton in the royal wedding. But even before her shimmering white seat, having a plump rump was gaining popularity. Since Pippa, it's become a global craze, and everyone from Miley Cyrus to Anna Wintour has endorsed ample arse affection.


It's been particularly popular this fortnight. Iggy Azalea and J-Lo released their ambiguously titled Booty. Vogue wrote a watershed endorsement of the perky posterior. And Nicki Minaj is still generating flak over her, equally subtle, song Anaconda. (Haven't seen them? Watch them. It'll explain a lot.)

Yomi Adegoke wrote a particularly fine article on the Guardian Australia this week, "Why does a black butt only look good in white skin?" She argues that in Australia, this cult of the arse is actually cultural appropriation. It's a theme that's been taken up throughout the global news and social media sphere.

She argues the round rump has long been a staple of black beauty standards. Its recent mainstream popularity is a "belated thumbs up from white society" to a part of black culture "now deemed good enough" for mass respectability. Basically, arse worship is condescending poaching from black culture.

Now you can agree or disagree with whether it's cultural appropriation in Oz. Let's assume it is. The question we need to ask then is, is this happening in New Zealand?

After all, we too are lusting after the perfect butt; girls everywhere are frantically trying to find ways of perking up their posteriors.

So does this mean that New Zealand is also arrogantly appropriating black culture?

It's tricky. I think you can make a clearer case for Australia. Oz takes more cues from the US and, to a casual observer, it does feel like there is more of a popular separation of culture into black and white.

But does New Zealand do it to the same extent? To my mind, when we ingest our popular culture, it is predominantly American. But it's just labelled American, not black or white American culture.

The clearest example of this is in 2013, when Lorde's Royals lyrics were blasted as racist by American critics.

Lorde poked fun at "gold teeth", "Cristal" and "diamonds on your timepiece". This roused American critics into howls of racism, as these are seen as hallmarks of black hip-hop culture. But to Lorde, it's just Hollywood culture.

As I've argued repeatedly at dinner, I think this reflects the way New Zealand thinks of pop culture. When we think of Hollywood's excessive lifestyle, we see it as one American concept. Kiwis don't see the codes that identify things as black and white.

I wish I had an answer to it. But I suppose that if all this does is make us think about it more, then that's still okay.