When Tara Rachel Benson went out on a recent night to an album release party in Los Angeles, she put on her makeup, a tight-fitting Herve Leger dress, stiletto heels—and a pair of padded panties.
“It’s part of the whole outfit,” says Ms. Benson, a 25-year-old assistant to a music manager. Wearing the Booty Pop brand of underwear, which contain egg-shaped foam pads to plump up the posterior, “I look better, I feel better, and as a result, I act better,” she says.
For centuries, women have wriggled into girdles and other slimmers to minimize their rear ends. Now, a fascination with the hind-quarters of celebrities like Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian is fueling a booming market for undergarments that amplify the derrière.
On Booty Pop’s late-night infomercials, which began airing in December, viewers are entreated to “forget about doing endless squats—and cosmetic surgery, who can afford that?” as models prance around in tight jeans flaunting their backsides.
In May, Bed Bath & Beyond started carrying Booty Pop in most of its 967 stores and online. Drugstore Walgreens, which jumped on the Booty Pop bandwagon in April, is carrying the product at 1,000 of its 7,541 stores and mulling an expansion. Earlier this month, Target started carrying Booty Pop online.
Booty Pop projects it will sell close to 1 million pairs of padded underwear this year.
“I want one,” the famously skinny reality TV star Nicole Richie wrote this month on Twitter, after which she posted a link to a “black licorice” cotton-spandex pair, on sale for $19.95. Through her publicist, Ms. Richie declined to comment.
Booty Pop isn’t the only company seeking a boost from behind. Early next year, Maidenform Brands plans to introduce a “Jean Collection”—internally called “Project Injeanious”—containing bottom shapers.
“There are a lot of similarities between what you can do for the rear and breast—you can lift it, round it and shape it,” says Maurice Reznik, Maidenform’s chief executive.
At lingerie retailer Frederick’s of Hollywood, the $28 “Booty Boy Short” (they’re for women, despite the name) is currently the No. 2 top-selling shaping item online. Victoria’s Secret introduced the “bum booster” in January in some outlets, and a spokeswoman says it is selling well.
“It’s not so hot to have a pancake a— these days,” says Azar Jazestani, a 26-year-old wedding planner in Montreal, who wears Booty Pop panties with jeans.