Yakkin' About Upton: Think Like a Bro

Model and meme Kate Upton epitomizes the "think like a man" ethos, dougies like a lady.
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Image via Flickr.

Jessica Danielle: I need to talk about trivial things like big boobs taking over sports sites.

Kate Perkins: Oh, good, because I was hoping to pick your brain on the subject of meme-model Kate Upton! Several .gifs-gone-wild ago, I had mentioned to you that, from the Straight White Female perspective, the thing about Kate Upton that is at least mildly appealing is the success she's had not because of but in spite of her size. I think that means, like, she has "curves," and to that extent "success" = people being okay with a white woman having some body. Or in any case, that would seem to have been her pre-meme brand of success. The anti-Kate Moss.

JD: Oh I have so many thoughts on that. But the media always picks a few women who are sort of “bigger” (but not really) to fetishize. Personally, I had no idea her size was abnormal in the beginning. I was surprised she could be a supermodel with a large chest. But what are curves anyway? a big chest? a donkey butt? or just someone who weighs more than Kate Moss.

KP: Any and/or all of the above! I think. Although her YouTube-scandal fame kind of suggests that people are NOT okay with white woman shakin' the body. Or at least, YouTube People, whoever they are.

JD: Oh, man! I saw that Cat Daddy video and just kept thinking WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME. I felt like a creep watching it.

KP: See, I tend to get that feeling more when I read BRO articles on the subject, as epitomized by articles like "Who Would Win in A Flirt-Off with Kate Upton, Harden or Durant?"

JD: That article...I just... Here's the thing: Kate Upton is a sort of teenage tabula rasa. Guys can assign her qualities without her real personality, thoughts, opinions getting in the way.

KP: Right, it seems like that’s what that Grantland article is doing when it claims that that Harden/Durant video shows that she's "a legitimately decent actress" or something, aka she's acting like a ditz who knows nothing about sports, when in fact she knows a lot about sports—she's a big Rangers and Knicks fan. The thing is that we like our supermodels dumb and if they aren't going to be that way they should get an academy award for acting like it.

(Also, LOL at how that video reveals Durant and Harden's "flirting styles"—as if it wasn't scripted.)

JD: So you think she's in on the "joke" then? I did like her acting in the video ... but if there was actual flirting going on there, it went way over my head.

KP: Oh, I definitely think she's in on the joke. She has a sense of humor about herself and she's funny in that video, no doubt. But there's a gross, kind of FRESH MEAT vibe to her fame, probably because of her association with the high bro-culture of the sports world elite, aka, the almighty beer-commercial brethren, aka hollering, fratty white dudes. Didn’t you tweet about that?

JD: Oh, yeah...my tweet about the white-bro meme. Basically, it goes back to the “blank slate” thing. The undercurrent in sports talk regarding women is "ZOMG I'd love to have a hot chick I can take around the guys who's down for anything," and under that undercurrent is not presenting a challenge. So when white dude says "dance for me Kate" and she's obviously wearing the tiniest bikini ever and can't dance a lick she's like "Okay!" and not "Well ... can I put some pants on first?"

I called this a White Male thing because white dudes run the sports blogosphere so they decide who's hot and who's not. As soon as I tweeted my comment, some white dudes immediately replied me assuming I was "hating" on Kate cause she's hot. I mean, there are lots of hot girls. I was just saying her rise has its reasons just like anyone else. Plus there's this crazy obsession with boobs and blond hair that black guys don't obsess about so much. They're more into length of hair and big bottoms. So ... Kate might not be quite as appealing to them.

KP: Right: in re. Upton’s particular brand of fame now, the reason has everything to do with bro-sports culture, but are there any other supermodels/single gorgeous celebrity ladies who have gotten the kind of attention that made Kate Upton famous in the sports world?

JD: That's a good question. *thinks* ...  I keep thinking Jenn Sterger which totally doesn't count. But while I'm thinking about people who don't matter ... Sarah Phillips—white-bro meme!!

KP: Every aspiring model should fire their agents for not thinking of putting them in front and center in the arena of the bro gaze.

JD: Hah! Agree. But I think they have to date an athlete first. We can't forget how guys like what athletes like. The influence is there even if they won't admit it. So if Mark Sanchez, hottie of hotties who can have anyone he wants, likes Kate Upton she must be the way hot.

KP: You know, Shoals tweeted the other day that he kept confusing Kate Upton and Sarah Phillips, and that seems significant to me.

JD: "This hot chick likes what I like!” Phillips and Upton are beneficiaries of the thinking I just mentioned.

KP: Both epitomize THINK LIKE A MAN/ACT LIKE A LADY. Coed naked sports!

JD: The problems start when the guys who *made* the woman start feeling like they were played.This goes back to your point about how other models should be firing their publicists for not marketing them this way. lol!

KP: We'll only break the glass ceiling when James Franco and Ryan Gosling bring their cute white butts to a WNBA game. Related: Who is the female Terry Richardson? We need a hot female-gaze factory.

JD: Who is the male Terry Richardson? But yeah, I agree … women aren't running this game at all. Ed Reed is my Kate Upton. He really is. How do I make him a meme? I need more power. I also wonder what kind of folks white women or black women or any other combo that's not white and male would saturate the sports blogosphere with.

KP: Well, this has been productive. We now have a goal. MAKE ED REED THE NEW KATE UPTON! Thanks for yakking, JD!

JD: You're very welcome. It was fun. Now we just have to sit back and wait for people to say we're hating. That's how you know you made it.

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I can't speak for all chicanos, but plenty of folks that are brown are down with Kate. Also, lots of Mexican comrades on my mens' soccer team down here in Texas fell in love with the USWNT, especially Hope Solo.

I think we should start a special social club, like "Misogynists Without Borders." Have they amended man law yet to allow for citrus flavored beers?

Need something not smart to sound smart?! Just inject race into it!

Need to add some fake I'm-A-Deep-Progressive-Thinker to a piece?! Why not say something is 'controlled by white men' and imply that it might be different if it weren't-- of course, offer no evidence that it is or that this would even matter (and ignore that free internet blogging could never be controlled anyway)... but by offering no evidence, it can't even be discredited!! And if someone disagrees, you can say that they're being racially driven!!

It never fails 90% of the time!

It's all in my book: Fake Intellectuals for Blogging 2012!!! Buy now on Amazon

Hey, we were just talking! Neither of us has AUTHENTIC INTELLECTUAL in our bylines, so you don't have to worry about us corrupting the intellectual sanctity of the internet.

Hey, if you want proof of online sports media is kind of a white-dude place, you should check out this website The Classical that I read all the time. But I guess "evidence" is sort of a slippery thing when we're talking about this, or not talking about it.

I was an affirmative action hire.

Me too

For the record Kate, I liked the piece, a lot. It's well written and entertaining.

I joked about the race issue because it just seems totally tossed in. You could have taken every mention of race out, and the piece would have been exactly the same: funny and well-done. Which sort of leads me to my point of, why is it even in there?

I'm not saying people need to pussyfoot around race, I'm saying it made no sense to bring it into this issue, as with any other issue that doesn't.

Just my opinion of course.

I love that we have disgruntled comments (no offense meant, Scott, I can see where you're coming from) and spam comments. We're reaching website adolescence.

I'm having trouble following this article. Forgive me if my comment misunderstands your points. I feel like the writing lacks cohesion and direction, but that is likely the result of the format.

Is the takeaway point from this article that Kate Upton is a product of white writers forcing her into our consciousness through their power as the unseen controllers of the sports blogosphere? That she wouldn't be as popular if the sports blogosphere was run by another race or gender and that she owes her popularity at least in part to her possession of qualities that are found attractive almost exclusively by white bloggers?

If that's the point, then I suppose I understand. But I feel like that I must be missing something because why would that be worth an article? Any help?

Full disclosure: I am white and male. I like sports, blogging and hanging out with friends (who are often other guys). This entitles you to typecast me and my thinking as "white-broish" if you don't like it. ;P

Kate Upton is significant because, as we realized whilst yakkin', there really is no other model in recent memory whose career has been *made* by a direct (i.e., not by association as girlfriend or wife of an athlete) relationship with the sports-bro sphere, at least not in the way Kate Upton's has current career has been: she is renowned for being both a fan favorite *and* a fan. Also, I think the biggest takeaway is the correspondence with her attainment of sports-bro meme status and the THINK LIKE A MAN mentality of what JD points out amounts to the hetero fantasy of having a hot babe who is just like him but with sexy, sexy lady parts. There may or may not be anything wrong with that, but JD and I just wanted to add some female voices to all the drooling and panting so we could think about Kate Upton's significance beyond being the internet's current favorite NSFW .gif.

So you're essentially saying that Kate Upton's hotness as ascribed by sports bros is unique because a large component of her desirability comes from being a sports fan? I'm sorry, but I'm not really sure how that's particularly insightful (I also doubt that it's a true statement; though my knowledge of models and their interests is far from exhaustive, I presume that both writers lack that same knowledge as well). However, as a straight white male fraternity member who attends college in the South (Vanderbilt University), I don't think much of Kate Upton's hotness (a status conferred exclusively by the sports-bro; terms like 'sexiness,' 'beauty,' and 'attractiveness' seem to be conferred by those of a more mature realm) comes from her love of sports, but rather the fact that she's just really physically attractive (and, I might add, 19 years old, which is probably the more enticing characteristic).

While it's definitely true that we find girls who like sports more attractive (at an NBA game, my father told me that "a girl wearing a sports jersey automatically moves up 2 points... That girl over there would be a 6 wearing anything else, but tonight she's an 8") and that your yakked-out reasons for it are most likely true, I just don't think it's that notable of an insight. Firstly, Kate Upton's rise was precipitated largely by her SI Swimsuit cover appearance (a large part of my own psychosexual development, I'll admit) and the fact that she dated Mark Sanchez. In short, she's not just a super-hot superfan. Moreover, a major part of the reason that guys (or at least, I) like sports is that it provides instant common ground with another person. Kate Upton's fanhood makes her accessible and personable in a way that many women, models, and celebrities are not. Does accessibility connote some sort of sexual availability or ease that would further enhance a woman like Kate Upton? I'm sure that it does. But it also connotes basic connection and humanity. We aren't just ravenous wolves who smell FRESH MEAT. There is a part of us that likes to imagine that we would, on some level, get along really well with Kate Upton, even without having her directly and currently touching our penises.

I forgot I commented on this piece until now. There are some swell comments that have been posted since that have helped me understand and enjoy this piece. I understand that a month-old comments section is the elephant graveyard of the internet, but thanks everybody. keep up the good work.

Should I click on that Harden/Durant link you posted? I feel like I should so I can see exactly what you two are talking about, but it just sounds like the worst.

Wasn't aware of Upton until many of the hockey players I follow on twitter started mentioning her as their dream woman & what not. I'd point out that most professional hockey players are white & between 18-35, but you already knew that.

When the Terry video dropped, the creep feeling definitely escalated with the slow-mo repeat.

If there is anything this article/conversation does not need it is a white male perspective, so I'm just going to shut up, but will include a couple of asides that can be easily ignored [1) I don't "get" the Kate Upton obsession? Obviously she is very attractive, but, so are hundreds of other models. "Things white males like" is frustrating when they so often don't apply. Most people can probably relate to this with their own stereotypes, of course. 2) Anything with Terry Richardson is immediately 10x creepier, so hopefully we never find his female counterpart.]