Showing off my chanchotes ;)

Every time I leave my Costa Rican apartment located directly above a beach-side restaurant, the cooks give me a warm greeting.

“Hola Amor, preciosa, ay Mami…sus chanchotes!”

The phrase is raw when translated directly.

“Hello my precious love, wow you have two big pigs located where your ass should be!” they say.

They should know. My gate at the bottom of my apartment faces directly into their kitchen window. Every time I open and unlock my gate, the cooks get a direct shot at my “luscious” backside.

Naturally, I should be offended by their words. My Southern California born and bred self might resort to going on a watermelon diet, running an ultramarathon, or creating my own Biggest Loser challenge that would put Jillian Michaels to shame.

Here, in Costa Rica, though, being told you have two pigs located right where your ass should be is a compliment.

Personally, I laugh every time I hear the word “ChancHotes.” (I also usually say something vulgar right back at them)…

The word takes me back to my college days at Emory in Atlanta.
One semester I lived with a really cool black chick from Georgia. I’d often walk around our dorm in just soccer shorts and a sports bra. One day, in my typical attire, she looked me up and down and exclaimed, “Damn girlfriend, you are THICK!!!”

I didn’t eat for a week.

“You silly white girl!” she told me, when she saw me attempting to diet later that week.

“Thick is DELICIOUS.”

We white girls, heck, all women and their bodies, can be silly and overtly hard on ourselves at times.

I am definitely no exception to the rule. I grew up in the land of eating disorders in Southern California, and I definitely struggled with one at one point myself. At 20 years old, I thought beauty only existed in runners, lean bodies, girls in bikini ads. I hated on my butt for years.

In Costa Rica, they call people “gordita,” or “gordo.”

“Hey Fatty, or Fatso,” they say.

These words are not considered derogatory here. I mean, it’s not the nicest thing in the world to be called a fatty, but it’s endearing.

You are not your body. You might be big, or round, or fat or skinny, or even have a huge or little ass, but it doesn’t define who you are nor the affection someone has for you.

I have a butt that makes Sir Mix-a-Lot song come to life. It’s big, it’s round. It looks nothing like the butts from surf ads or those small bootays on mannequins.

The time I’ve spent worrying about my butt has wasted hours of my life.

Besides my physical Butt, my proverbial “Buts” (excuses for not doing something I should do) have kept me from dropping in on big waves, dating guys that might be great even though not perfect on my paper “list,” and from worrying about what everyone else thought when I should have just trusted my gut.

Down along the Pacific Coast in a Costa Rican beach town, having two kitchen sous chefs tell me every day that my butt looks like a PIG, I decided to change my view.

I came to realize that my butt is a gift. Yeah, it’s bigger than most. And… (not but)…it’s also the reason why I can run faster than most, last for hours on a long bike ride, climb hills with rapid speed, and shake on the dance floor like I AM Shakira (even though my dance skills are more like Elaine from Seinfeld).

And, thanks to my backside, most of my fat stays off my tummy and goes to my rear instead, letting me look like I do 250 sit-ups a day while the reality is… I do zero.

SO YEAH, I HAVE A CHANCHOTE. A butt. A big Butt. I never thought being told my ass was like a pig would make me have so much affection for a body part I used to despise.

Life is about letting go of the excess butts and buts. It’s about dropping in on waves, taking a chance on decisions that make zero sense on paper, living with no regrets and never looking “BACK.”

After all, I can leave that one for the cooks.

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  • April 24, 2012 at 11:13 am //

    What an uplifting tale of the white girl’s struggle with determining the perfect amount of booty. I love when people call me thick. It really is an incredibly endearing compliment! You should pitch this to Seventeen Mag.

  • May 11, 2012 at 9:05 pm //

    A girl with no butt is called “planche a pain” or cutting board for bread… A girl with a butt is simply called a “femme” or a woman!

  • October 1, 2012 at 11:30 am //

    That’s one beautiful backside you got!!! your heart and mind are equally as beautiful!! …this is such a great piece Shelbs! cant wait to read more…xo Liz