“Brazilians have the bum-bums they do partly because of great genetics,” Carvalho said. “But it’s still common to see some that are pear-shaped or square or drooping. We have to work very hard to keep them in shape.” After just 45 minutes of heart-pounding, backside-breaking intensity, I began to think of the shapely Victoria’s Secret Angels less as deities and more as runway-stomping badasses in bedazzled wings.
When that burn wore off a few days later, I attended Kate Albarelli’s glute-toning class, Figure 4, which has a cultlike following at Pure Yoga on the Upper West Side. As I stepped into her brightly lit studio, Albarelli gave me a quick assessment. “You have a heart-shaped butt,” she said approvingly. “You’re starting to get that nice chisel on the sides—that’s the gluteus medius.” Albarelli then assured me that the hamstring-lifting motions in her class would help form the bubble of my dreams—then kicked my ass with her pulsating arabesques, in which the active leg stays in the air for far, far too long. While each set was supposed to hit a count of 20, I could barely do six. (Her workout, based on barre exercises she used during her 15 years as a professional ballet dancer, also incorporates free weights, yoga, and core exercises.)
A few thousand squats and leg lifts and frog jumps later, my booty still won’t be mistaken for Rihanna’s, but there is a bit of sumthin’ sumthin’ that wasn’t there before: a half-inch of it, to be precise. Though after parading my improved badonkadonk around for a bit, it seems clear to me that it’s not so much the size that matters as the shape it’s in. Now that my tush can actually make contact with fabric, I look good in anything spandex—bikini bottoms, workout gear, a newly purchased pair of Alexander Wang leggings. How proud am I? When I strut down the sidewalk in skintight jeans, I can’t help but channel an old Destiny’s Child favorite: ’Cause my body’s too bootylicious for ya, babe. That proud.