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Naked Appreciation

Female body pictures – I can remember, many years ago when it was age-appropriate, reading an article in Seventeen Magazine.  It was memorable, I suppose, because it was the first time I recall feeling a sense of outrage at the less-than-subtle suggestion that I wasn’t good enough because I didn’t look like the model on the magazine cover.  I had been through a doughy phase at around 13-14, but I was back to a normal weight by 16.  But still, I was a 16-year-old girl.

The article directed, “Stand in front of a full-length mirror naked.  Frankly assess any less-than-perfect parts.”  Excuse me?  Did you just, actually, advise an entire class of the most obsessed-and-critical-of-their-bodies humans (teenage girls) to scrutinize every inch of those bodies, and judge them against a standard of perfection?  Is this the article that launched a thousand eating disorders?

With a few well-meaning hiccups like the “Dove Campaign for Real Beauty” and Tyra Banks’ complaint that even her thighs had been airbrushed smaller for an ad, the media has been presenting us with unrealistic “standard” images for decades.  It is incredibly ironic that the web address campaignforrealbeauty.com has been abandoned by the Dove folks and purchased by, you guessed it, a weight loss program.  Sigh.

I’m not the first to point out that equating skinny with beautiful is a 20th-century concept.  The painting above, Rubens’ Venus at the Mirror (1615), shows a vastly different standard of feminine perfection.  Now I admit, Rubens was famous for liking some meat on his women, but art pretty much up to the 20th century depicted nude women as anything but skinny.  The damsel in Millais’ Knight Errant (1870), below, looks a lot like me.  A LOT.  In fact, only the sure and certain knowledge that I was not alive in 1870 assures me that I didn’t have one too many and pose for it in a weak moment.

Somewhere between about 1910, when women had chucked their corsets and bustles and remembered what their bodies actually looked like, and the deprivations of the First World War and the 1918 Flu pandemic, women just got skinnier.  Then the fashion houses started designing for that shape, and the new Hollywood cultural machine made it the look.  And we, unfortunately, have never looked back.

The thing I find oddest in today’s world is the idea of implants.   Butts and boobs are made almost entirely of fat, so women who starve themselves down to a size zero find that they no longer look like women.  But instead of embracing the bean-pole look like our flapper forebears did, they have surgeons stick bags of […]

Read the full article here: http://2rich2thin.com/naked-appreciation

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