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Emily
16th August 2007, 02:14
I came across an interesting article the other day, in which a female writer describes her wonderful reactions to a Classical statue of Aphrodite (or Venus, as the Romans termed her), the goddess of love. Here's the statue in question:

http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0816/csmimg/UGODDESS_P1.jpg

The article is a bit mixed in terms of its message, but note that it is specifically the full-figured body of the statue that impresses the author.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0816/p19s02-hfes.html

Here are the pertinent passages:

Aphrodite's mighty appeal

Whether she resides in Italy or on the California coast, the statue of Aphrodite will always exude power and charm.

By Janie Dempsey Watts
August 16, 2007

...My friend Aphrodite arrived in California in the late '80s to make her home at the Getty Museum. I first encountered her ringed by admirers who gazed at the strong lines of her 7-1/2-foot frame. She stood on her pedestal, proud and sure of herself, holding court. Being in the limelight was easy for her since she had spent a number of years underground.

The 2,400-year-old Aphrodite was brought to the Getty to be the centerpiece of its antiquities collection. The museum paid $18 million for her...

Over the past two decades, I have visited her more than a dozen times, awed every time by her immense size. Her voluptuousness is stunning and quite reassuring. It's nice to know that plus-size women were valued at some point in history, and, in her case, she was known as the most beautiful goddess goddess of love and queen of the heavens.

In fact, the information placard says her size is what makes her a goddess. If big equals good, does that make me and my fellow size-14 women goddesses, too? I would like to think so...

The placard placed near her base says that the wind-blown garments clinging to her body are characteristic of Aphrodite, goddess of love...

...Take a look at her outstretched arm and open hand. It's obvious the woman is begging for a snack. It could have been a golden apple or a pomegranate that she wanted, but I'm sure it was a large slice of pizza.

For the moment, she seems comfortable at the Getty Villa in Malibu. But she will soon be moving home because Italy wants her back.

Italy, Malibu, either will work as long as the big girl stays near the sea. After all, she was born of the sea and had many temples built by the sea, so she probably feels most at home by the coast, surrounded by admirers.
It's not a particularly sophisticated interpretation from an art-historical standpoint, but how wonderful to see that this statue, over two millennia after it was scupted, still achieves the fundamental effect that it was always meant to have -- it inspires awe and reverence.

And the fact that the statue also suggests the voracious appetite of the goddess of beauty (the comment about the slice of pizza is witty, but also truthful) -- that too is true to the Classical milieu in which it was created, for self-indulgence was a defining characteristic of Aphrodite/Venus.

What a healthier and more beautiful culture we would have if our present-day icons of beauty possessed similar figures, and inspired similar reactions.

HSG
25th September 2007, 03:17
<br>What a delightful article--humorous, but not disrespectful. How encouraging to find a contemporary writer (a full-figured woman herself) reconsidering her own body image, when confronted by this example of ideal beauty from a nobler, healthier culture than our own.

When the writer asks, and answers, <i>"Does that make me and my fellow size-14 women goddesses, too? I would like to think so,</I>" one discovers how profoundly visual presentations of beauty (be they magazine photographs or Classical sculptures) affect viewers' self image.

If modern women were surrounded by the Classical ideal of full-figured beauty that this sculpture represents, rather than by today's androgynous skeleton-models, they too would view their plus-size figures as goddess-like. As they should.

The statue even offers a fine bit of fashion advice for present-day voluptuous vixens. The writer describes the statue's "<i>wind-blown garments <strong>clinging</strong> to her body</I>" as being "<i>characteristic of Aphrodite.</I>" The Ancients knew that well-fed figures are best exhibited by closely-fitting, body-embracing fashions which reveal every soft curve and contour; not by loose, formless apparel.

The writer's witticism about Aphrodite's craving for <i>"a large slice of pizza"</i> is also refreshing. It suggests that even across the millennia, she feels a kinship with the model who posed for this statue. She knows that only a considerable appetite, freely indulged, could have endowed the model with her generous proportions--the proportions worthy of Venus herself.

If only young women today could become similarly comfortable with their natural desires, and equally confident in their appearance. A wider dissemination of the beauty ideal that this statue represents would make such a change in perception possible.

The same ideal, two millennia later--<i>Venus, Mars, and Two Cupids,</I> by the Baroque master Padovanino (1588-1648):<p><center><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/pinacotheca/padovanino/padovanino06.jpg"></center></p>(Note the soft curves along the model's back.)

- <a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/pinacotheca/padovanino06.htm" target="_blank">Click here for Pinacotheca information</a>