Where does phat ass come from?
Phat originates in black slang in the 1960s, originally describing a sexually attractive woman.
Many like to claim that phat is an acronym for phrases like pretty hips and thighs or pretty hot and tempting, among others, but the term is just a deliberate misspelling of fat. Fat, here, is like the slang thick, meant to praise a woman of fuller figure.
In the 1990s, phat hit the hip-hop mainstream as slang for "excellent," often seen in phat-ass. A 1994 article in Vibe, for instance, mentioned the "phat-ass rap of LL Cool J." The ass in this phat-ass isn't about any impressive cushion. Rather, it's a slang suffix making the sense of phat more intense (think badass or radass).
Phat ass, as a term for a woman's large behind, takes off in the early 2000s, found in everything from hip-hop lyrics to urban literature. Lil Wayne notably used phat ass in his 2008 track "Whip It": "Long hair pretty eyes light skin fine legs / Phat ass, skinny stomach, pretty feet, pretty woman." Rapper Andre Nickatina brought the point home in his 2017 "Phat Ass": “Phat ass/phat ass/phat ass/The bitch right there got a phat ass.”
In the 2000s, phat ass also takes off as a category and genre in online pornography, prominently figured in PAWG, or phat ass white girl.
Who uses phat ass?
Saying a woman has a phat ass is intended to describe her figure positively. Saying she has a fat ass, however, may demean her size, though in many contexts fat and phat can be interchanged (as in the The Ass Was Fat meme).
Know your meme
"Intended" is the key word here. Some women may take phat ass as complimentary, even body-positive. Others may feel it sexually objectifies them, reducing their identity to their appearance.
I get vexed, like crashin' up a phat-ass Lex.
Wu-Tang Clan, "Wu-Tang Clan: 7th Chamber," 1993
I just want a phat ass & a masters degree yo
@MandaTheCreator, June, 2018
ALL I WANT IS A PHAT ASS BUT I WAS GIVEN A PHAT ASS HEART SO WHO WANTS THIS LOVIN.
@bellisticity, May, 2018