Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Venus of Willendorf

So real women have curves?

Am I the only one who has always been insulted by that statement? In all my rantings and ravings, I have nothing against overweight women. My mother, Paula Deen, is overweight, and she's possibly the most wonderful woman I know--most of the time.

But I do have a problem with certain concepts within the "fat feminist" movement... which came out of 2nd wave (that should start to give you a hint, as 2nd wave feminism may have opened a lot of doors, but they also set women back, in my opinion). Yes, fat people are discriminated against. Have you ever watched a TV show and just felt sorry for one of the actors because you know they got the job simply because they're obese? And their role in the plot revolves around their weight? It's sad, truly.

But the answer isn't to strike out against everyone else and glorify these women as the "real women." I've never been chesty. It's quite embarrassing really. So when I gain weight, I gain it pretty consistently everywhere, and maintain this sad little pear shape. And when I lose weight, it's the same thing. So, needless to say, even at my heaviest, I've never really had "curves" ...maybe child-bearing hips, but that's about it. So, when America Ferrera's 2002 movie came out, in my sophomore year of high school, I felt singled out.

I'm not a real woman?


In 1908, archaeologists in Austria discovered a curious little pre-historic statuette they would jokingly name the "Venus of Willendorf." Her carving is suggested to be an idealized representation of female fertility (with pronounced genitals, belly, and breasts) and not a realistic portrayal of a woman.

Though it was a joke to compare her to Classical depictions of Greco-Roman Venus (with a small but shapely body, and modesty that's nowhere to be seen in the pre-historic figurine), one can see a juxtaposition between the "primitive" and the "civilized."

I argue, that this same depiction can be seen today. Models/celebrities versus "real women." And somehow, thin women are not real.

Now, I think this has an interesting twist. Why are even anorexics shocked by "pregorexia?" For the two reasons that: A) The woman in question is endangering a life other than her own and B) Even we associate fertility and child-birth with ideals of curvaceousness and weight gain. It's natural.


Does our pre-historic Venus represent a wiser people's realization that "real women" have curves? That we should be idealizing and worshiping fat? I don't think so. I believe that there's a difference between fertility and womanhood. And I don't think that body size or shape has anything to do with how much of a woman you are (if you really want to get into it, I think the argument can be made that pre-historically there was less access to food and a large woman would represent someone who had more resources, and thus it would have been a status symbol, but that's an aside).

If you listen to the rhetoric of fat feminism and the fat acceptance movements, you'll notice something interesting. They always use eating disorders as the foil. If you don't accept fat women, "big beautiful women," you are putting women at risk to develop disordered body image, anorexia, bulimia, and EDNOS.

Who are they trying to convince to accept them? The general population? Or themselves?


Bottom Line: Be proud of who you are, fat or skinny, and don't resort to putting the other side down to bring yourself up.


hey.hana said...

I think our world needs to focus less on appearance altogether, but as I doubt that will happen anytime soon we must manipulate the whole dilemma in our favor.

Thin, pretty girls are favoured at the mo, so why not be one of them?

great post though, made me think

SophiaRuins said...

i have a gigantic problem with women who say stuff like 'real women have curves'. it has to be one of the top five things in the whole world that piss me off enough to go for mass murder haha
and as far as fat feminists go, if anything, theyre worse than us.
they go to extremes just like we do, theyre just going to the opposite end of the spectrum.
but unlike us, they force the belief that only "real women" are fat on everyone around them.

fuck fat feminists.

XOXO Sophia Ruins <3

Ophelia said...

Fabulous post as usual.
It's one of the timeless clich├ęs people dole out to me as well as to themselves. How dare anyone tell me how I SHOULD look!
It's interesting what you say about breasts. I love having a small chest - it means I'm skinny...but I've never met a guy who understands when I say a small chest is beautiful - and doubt I ever will! But I won't put on weight in order to satisfy a man's lust for a big bust or anything else.
I don't know about you, but it's hard to imagine "Venus of Willendorf" having been crafted by a woman isn't it?..

Anonymous said...

Good post. I find the hysteria around EDNOS exaggerated and annoying. I enjoy reading good rants against simplistic and misguided feminism. Go fifth-wave feminism, or whatever we're on now!

Pasco said...

So this may come off as a little superficial after your insightful (and excellent) post, but I hate that the term "curvy" has become synonymous with "fat".

I am curvy. I was curvy when I was fat, and I'm still curvy on the road to thin. My sister, who has always been teensy weensy, has huge breasts in proportion and is also curvy. My skinny mother is curvy. We have genes that gives us small waists, huge pelvises and an ample bosom. We are hour glass shaped at any size. If only it were the 1950s I'd be hot as hell.

On any given day though you can pick up a low-brow women's magazine with a "dress for your shape" section. And this section will undoubtedly portray a fat, shapeless blob of a "real" model on the "curvy" page. PISSES ME OFF!

Yes, a sphere has curves. But it doesn't fucking count!

Africana said...

Excellent post!

I come from a long line of voluptuous and curvy (by Pasco's definition) women. I will have hips at any size and my boobs are going no where. But I tell you what, when I was seriously obese I met some of those fat acceptance folks. They are a miserable lot. I just couldn't get it; rallying about body acceptance and then stuffing their faces with loads of calories. WTF? Body images aside I think I'd have more respect if it were about health.

Of course, I'm a total hypocrite for saying that because I have done a myriad (and will do much more) unhealthy things to lose weight but it's just how I feel.

Fat is unhealthy and ugly.
Skinny can be unhealthy but dammitt...you look good.

throughraindrops said...

really enjoyed that post


Sarah. said...

Loved this post, it really made me think. Society pisses me off. Its not ok to say things like 'real women have curves', because, no they dont. Well, not all.
Im right there with you on having zero chest, some days i hate it, some days i love it, but theres no way id ever ask for anything bigger..
I like being a CURVELESS WOMAN. lol

PrettyWreck said...

In China, even as recently as in this past century, there was a strong belief that "fat" meant "wealthy", because of the lack of food in many regions (such as rural, non modernized). In much of the ancient world, because there was no copious amounts of food, and everyone was forced to work for their meal, being overweight was seen as a status symbol. It meant that you had people to do it for you, and that to mate, and perhaps enter into a social agreement (marriage, bonding, whatever) would not only be beneficial to your own survival, but also to your own social ranking. It held a lot more (excuse the pun) weight than in modern society.

It also would have been indicative of health and reproductive success. In times where food was scarce, or had to be worked for, someone who was very thin would have been a sign of someone who didn't have a lot of access to sustenance. Someone who was heavier would mean they actually ate well. So by simple logic, the person who was thin (and possibly undernourished) would have a harder time supporting themselves, much less a growing person inside of them, and then getting food for that second person, than would the person who was heavier. I doubt they thought like this, in such logical terms, but the human mind and instincts quickly adapt to the world and environment in which we are in.

In modern days, that has changed, if you haven't noticed. There is a between spot that, according to most studies, men find the most erotic and lust worthy. Open up a maxim magazine. Most of the women in there are between 8-12's. Marilyn Monroe, still seen as one of the greatest sex figures, was a 14. Granted, her height let her carry it very well. But while women crave to be super thin, and the average is much bigger than "super thin", most men like that middle ground between 8-12's, because it's the safest range for lack of diseases, proper nutrition, still maintaining a feminine shape, and a healthy reproductive size.

Or at least, that's one of the theories behind it, and the one I subscribe to XD

If you've ever heard of a website called dimensions, it's a forum for "Big Beautiful Women" and the men who love them. It classifies over 350lb's as not only being "Plus size beautiful" but acceptable.

I see this as an opposite form of anorexia, which is quite possibly more dangerous. Anorexics don't have to worry about their feet solidifying due to lack of blood flow. Their bones don't cripple under the weight of their girth. They can still reach their vagina to clean themselves. They don't ahve to worry about lifting up rolls of fat they can't reach to clean under it, or else risk a yeast infection in their back.

That may sound harsh and cruel, but I've had to treat women like that while I worked in a hospital. The smell is something you never forget, and I can recognize it on people now just when I pass them on the street. I can tell if there's a part on their body that's infected or dying or rotting off with gangrene because of the hardened mounds of fat crystallizing their blood vessels. When you look at their legs, they're rotted and yellow and flaking. Their feet are swollen and hard, and their stomachs, when you lift them, feel solid. Not soft like a normal persons weight. But it, too, is hard. It's terrifying.

And this is the "Real woman" who has curves.

That movement is a backlash by women who are bitter that they can't have the bodies they want, and it makes me sad that it ostracizes the few who don't have it naturally. And by not agreeing with it, it doesn't mean you're encouraging people to go to ED's. It just means that you're saying that real women can be shaped any way they were made, and it doesn't take huge breasts and hips the size of Kim Kardashian to be qualified as a female.

belle svelte said...

so I wrote this huge thing and searched your comments to see where mine was only to realize that I never actually clicked on the okay button. stupid me =)

yea, I am pretty damn excited. I mean...one only has to follow my posts for the last few months to know what mindset I was falling into...so this really is light at the end of the tunnel. it really is.

but thank you for following along and the words of encouragement because I wouldn't have come to terms with my lack of intellectual prowess without it. it's important to not let the resume/college define you...because are more than what they appear on paper. I have always believed that but I am human...and I come to question my own beliefs. but thank you for thoughts...I started to accept myself (faults and good things alike) even before my offer from this school...and coming to terms with what I can and cannot do is far more important than anything else right now =)

although getting is pretty fucking amazing.


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