Is the Butt Part of the Leg or the Torso? The Debate of our Time

In February of this year, I asked a friend of mine a simple question: “Is the butt a part of the leg?” She replied, “I don’t think so, I think it’s more part of the torso.” I disagreed with her on the basis that the butt moves along with the leg. Lift your leg up, the buttcheek moves with it. She disagreed, as the butt is part of the pelvis region, and the pelvis is indisputably part of the torso. We argued back and forth for a while. A third friend got involved in the debate, things got heated, and after all was said and done, the butt being part of the legs became one of my most deeply held beliefs.

Despite this, I have posed this simple question to many other people in my life, and the responses are very divided. There are always a few seconds of thought, as the person tries to figure out their definition of “leg” and “torso.” Then they give their answer. Whichever side they come down upon, they have plenty of ways to justify their opinion, and if you try to argue with them, they only become more sure that they are right. There could be a statement here about how arguments tend to convince both people that they were right all along, and how that drives political division, but I’m not here to say something impactful about the nature of humanity, I’m here to talk about butts.

Leggists (people who think it’s part of the leg) such as myself argue that raising your leg causes your butt muscles to move as well, and as such, the butt and the leg are one and the same. However, torsoists (people who think it’s part of the torso) would counter-argue that bending forward with your torso also moves your butt. But take a Barbie doll, remove all its clothes, and look at its butt. Although the torso includes a thin strip of plastic wrapping around the crotch and rectal area, the buttcheeks are a different piece of plastic altogether— the legs. Of course, those who disagree may point out that Barbie can rotate her neck a full 360 degrees, and, as such, is an imperfect model of human anatomy.

Torsoists argue that behind the butt muscles, you will find the pelvis. The pelvis is part of the torso, so the butt must be as well. While I agree that the pelvis is part of the torso, I object to the assertion that the butt should be grouped with the pelvis. That theory only works if you think of the body as two-dimensional, which I am fairly sure it is not. Besides, why are we talking about bones? There is no butt bone. The skeletons are irrelevant in this conversation. Torsoists also argue that of course the butt is part of the torso, because it just seems right. Imagine a severed leg. Does it include a butt? No, because we don’t perceive the butt as part of the leg. The problem with this, of course, is that it’s entirely subjective. Someone could say that they do always imagine the butt as part of the leg, and you’d have no way to prove them wrong. This argument essentially boils down to “I think the butt is part of the torso because I think the butt is part of the torso,” which is not exactly convincing.

So then, both sides have points, and both sides have counterpoints to those points. I’ve seen this argument several times, and nobody changes their mind. If we can’t agree on something as fundamental as our own bodies, what can we agree on? As everyone knows, society’s priorities of decision making are “Butt classification first, everything else second.” But it seems there is no reconciliation here. Everyone picks a side, comes up with justifications for their side, decides that the opposing side is stupid, and illogical, maybe even evil, and “Why can’t they just realize how wrong they are?” But perhaps this isn’t really important. No one I talked to about this had an opinion before I asked them the question. Maybe compromise is the answer. The butt could be half leg, half torso, or perhaps it’s part of both at the same time, or maybe the butt is just unclassifiable.

SO ANYWAY, I REACHED OUT TO A PHYSIOLOGIST.

Alia Yasen is a doctor of human physiology at the University of Oregon. This is her area of expertise. (Well, not the butt in particular. Her area of expertise is the human body, of which the butt is a part.) If anyone can answer this, it’s her. 

“The most correct explanation would be that the butt is part of the hip,” Doctor Yasen says. She continues to state, “When classifying muscles, we need to consider what actions the muscles perform and on what bones they attach. Our gluteal muscles help us stabilize and move our hip joint.”

Yasen then went on to tell me that my definition of “leg” is wrong. In anatomy, the leg only refers to the area between the knee and the ankle. The area that most people call the leg is known as the “lower extremity,” which includes the foot, ankle, leg, knee, thigh, and— wait for it— the hip. Yasen went on to tell me, “The torso refers to the area from which the neck and limbs extend. While the pelvis is often included in this definition, the connection between the pelvis and the femur (the hip joint) is not. Because the gluteal muscles act to stabilize and move a joint in the lower extremity, I would argue that the butt is not part of the torso.”

Let me repeat that last bit for you. “I would argue that the butt is not part of the torso.” There you have it, I was right, and you were wrong, unless you agreed with me, in which case you were also right! I now have the backing of an expert to tell me that my opinion is the correct one. I never have to speak with one of those dirty torsoists again, and if anyone you know is a torsoist, just show them this article. We don’t need compromise. We don’t need understanding. We don’t need to agree to disagree. The butt is part of the legs, case closed!

A model of the human body. Labeled are the torso, the leg, and the nebulous gray area known as the “butt”
(Original image from Wikimedia Commons, modified by Henry Boyer)

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