View Full Version : Starving for attention? Think again...
28th July 2005, 01:26
A friend of mine sent me this news story that she found somewhere else on the web. Its one of those amazing articles that make you believe there actually is a growing awareness that the media has it backwards when it comes to what men find attractive in women.
Its written by a female columnist, who says that contrary to popular opinion, men dont want their girlsfriends to starve - but the exact opposite.
Heres a quote -
"Few things could be more romantic and seductive than taking a woman out to dinner and her throwing out all neuroses concerning Atkins and South Beach and just enjoying the living daylights out of her food."
That isnt a rewrite. That is what she actually wrote.
I wonder how many women who think they are dieting to make themselves more attractive are doing just the opposite?
Its amazing to see someone express such a radically different point of view. Here is the link -
<br>What a refreshing take on a topic that is still surprisingly taboo--even now, when so many things that <i>should</i> be taboo no longer are.
That article may indeed seem "radical" in today's curve-o-phobic climate, and the writer describes her revelation with such amazement, that one would think that she had discovered the Rosetta stone.
But her observation is not in fact "new," nor would it be the least bit surprising to anyone who was aware of the natural laws of attraction that were acknowledged in Western culture until the 20th century.
Prior to the modern age, feminine beauty and a lavish appetite were widely seen as complimentary attributes.
Just consider the fact that, at the turn of the last century, stage actress Lillian Russell--who was generally regarded as the most gorgeous woman in the world--was as famous for her appetite as she was for her beauty.
In <i>The Great White Way,</i> a classic history of Broadway, author Allen Churchill recounts that<p><blockquote><i>"Miss Russell had a <strong>roaring passion for food</strong>, especially rich-buttered corn."</i></blockquote><p>And in <i>Amercian Beauty,</i> a study of the feminine ideal in the United States, author Lois W. Banner affirms that Lillian Russell<p><blockquote><i>"<strong>loved to eat</strong>; and through the well-publicized stories of her gargantuan meals a generation of American women were able to justify their own relief at not having to diet."</I></blockquote><p>What is even more significant is that Miss Russell's unabashed appetite was <i>not</i> concealed from the public, like a guilty secret. Quite the contrary--it was celebrated as an essential aspect of her appeal.
As author John Burke notes in <i>Duet in Diamonds</i> (an excellent biography of Lillian Russell and her most famous admirer, "Diamond" Jim Brady), Miss Russell was often referred to as <i>"America's own corn-fed love goddess"</i> (45). Burke's biography features numerous passages concerning Lillian Russell's love of food that amply justify the honorific:<p><blockquote><i>Lillian was an Iowa girl, and when corn was in season she lunched and dined on corn drenched in melted butter and followed by crepes suzette. Every day she and Brady met in a restaurant, either in the Loop or out on the exposition grounds . . . Their arrival was the signal for waiters to start carrying in trays of corn on the cob. Between them, that summer, Brady and Russell must have devastated several Iowa cornfields by themselves. </i>(14)
<i>[Lillian] gorged herself on the French cuisine on which San Francisco prided itself . . . While rough-hewn compliments from the hard-rock magnates fluttered around her golden head, she smiled graciously and plied her beestung lips with </i>caviar sur canane, paupiettes de basse, raye à la Normandie, poulet de grain aux cresson, <i>and a few discreet sips of vintage champagne. </i>(31)</blockquote><p>In her day, Lillian Russell felt no hesitation about eating freely, even though she was one of the most famous celebrities in America. Quite the opposite--she knew that her self-indulgence would make her <i>more</i> attractive to her admirers, not less so.
One of the most telling passages in Burke's biography involves the reminiscences of Oscar Tschirky, a New York waiter who was a noted observer of the Manhattan social scene in the late 1800s.
Tschirky itemizes the menu of a typical Lillian Russell meal as:<p><blockquote><i>"oysters, soup, fish, roast, two vegetables, sherbet, salad, ice cream, and cake"</i> (127).</blockquote><p>But even more revealing is his account of the first time that he ever saw Miss Russell in person, and the effect that this sighting had on him:<p><blockquote><i>"I was captivated by this fleeting glimpse. I remember the smooth flow of her blue gown, the exotic effect of her golden hair, but most of all the banked-down fire that smouldered in her beautiful face. She was the loveliest woman I have ever seen, lovelier than the picture on the poster I had stared at those first days I spent in New York"...That one glimpse was enough to send Oscar Tschirky over the Delmonico's the next morning to apply for a waiter's job, which he obtained, and <strong>the privilege of helping to feed that strikingly nonethereal love goddess of the '90s</strong>.</i> (109-10, emphasis added)</blockquote><p>Girls today may be forgiven for finding Lillian Russell's situation rather enviable: she could eat well because she was beautiful, and she was beautiful because she ate well. (A contemporary admirer quoted in Banner's book describes her as <i>"a golden-haired goddess with big rounded cheeks, soft and dimpled like a baby's."</i>)
But as the writer of the article that Melanie posted has discovered, the attractive power of feminine self-indulgence that Lillian Russell exploited is still very much alive, in our own day and age. It is simply banished from media discourse (rather like timeless feminine beauty itself).
Perhaps as the Classical ideal returns to cultural prominence, other "forgotten" characeristics of human nature will be rediscovered as well.
A rare photograph of an <i>uncorseted</i> Lillian Russell:<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/lillian/scan01.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/lillian/scan01a.jpg" border="0"></a></center><p>Now <i>that,</i> ladies and gentlemen, is a breathtaking pose--languid, and luxurious. (You may click on the image to see the uncropped version.)
30th July 2005, 03:27
To read those passages, it's doesn't seem like discovering history so much as entering a completely different world, or a parallel universe. It boggles the mind to think how entirely turned around our society has become. It's like someone took the world in their hands and turned it upside-down, perception-wise, making people believe that what is beautiful is unattractive, and vice versa.
How could this have happened? And why?
The look in Lillian Russell's eyes in that picture communicates so much. It is the relaxed, supremely confident look of someone who knows that she is adored by the entire world.
I wonder how many women (or rather, how many millions of women) in today's society -- who have grown up with self-doubt about themselves, about their appearance, and about their inclinations, because of the poison that's been put into their minds from childhood -- would instead feel as satisfied with themselves as Lillian Russell feels about herself, in that image?
It may not be possible for us to live in Lillian Russell's world, but I would sincerely like to believe that we could bring the better aspects of her world into our own.
<br>Here is an interesting bit of information that is germane to this discussion.
The following passage is from <i>Lillian Russell: A Biography of "America's Beauty"</i> (1999), by Armond Fields. The "movement" to which the author refers is the growth of advertising directed at middle-class women, in the latter part of the 1800s:<p><blockquote><i>This popular movement was epitomized by the magazine </i>Ladies' Home Journal.<i> It was founded in 1883 as a <strong>feminine - not feminist - </strong> periodical catering to middle-class identity and consumerism. It featured articles and editorials on family [meals], domestic comfort, personal hygiene and the use of leisure time. It presented all of these issues in an up-to-date and sophisticated manner. <strong>The ideals of feminine beauty were defined, and the image of the contemporary woman was described and elevated. She was voluptuous, with a full, round face and long hair, usually blonde, either pulled back or braided.</strong> Not surprisingly, Lillian Russell was featured as the personification of this ideal.</i> (58, emphases added)</blockquote><p>Can you believe it?
We often discuss what a <i>perfect</i> magazine would look like, both in terms of imagery and content--a magazine that would deliver a positive message of size celebration, rather than the kind of ruinous mixed-messages that pervade women's magazines today.
But lo and behold, when the first of these women's magazines originated, it <i>did</i> deliver just such a message. It still functioned as a consumerist publication, but it idealized timeless femininity rather than emaciated androgyny.
In other words, the so-called "dream world" that we so often conceptualize, in which plus-size beauty is celebrated as the aspirational ideal in magazines, and in the media as a whole, is no mere fantasy. It <i>actually existed.</i>
And if it existed once, it can exist again.
It would be simplicity itself to resurrect it. All that anyone would need to do is to take the paragraph quoted above, and to use it as the editorial basis of a magazine that is published today. The magazine would still be aspirational--but the ideal to which its readers would aspire (as outlined above) would be beautiful rather than ugly, elevating rather than demeaning, and healthy rather than harmful.
<a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/Lillian2.htm">Lillian Russell</a> did not vanish with the turn of the last century. She may be barred from Planet Hollywood, but she is very much present on Planet Earth. As the embodiment of women who wear a dress size 14 or better, she is everywhere in North America today--everywhere, except in the media. She is the legitimate ideal for the millions of women who are bombarded by images and messages in the modern world that run contrary to their natural inclinations.
It is time that the media acknowledged her aesthetic progeny.
Lillian Russell in 1892. Note how the wardrobe is specifically designed to frame the soft fullness of her arms--which in her own time, were considered her most attractive features:<p><center><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/lillian/lil53a.jpg"></center>
1st August 2005, 16:19
In light of the original article, and the follow-ups about Lillian Russell, I just had to post this news here - Atkins is bankrupt!
I see this as an amazing triumph of Lillian Russell and timeless beauty over modern weight-loss pushers. Despite all their non-stop promotion, either directly through ads, or indirectly by throwing stick-thin models in our faces all the time, they still couldnt keep their heads above water. I hope the rest go out of business soon, as well.
And I hope this means that a lot of women are spending their money on better things in life than on punishing themselves for no reason. Maybe people are realizing that some pretty clothes and a nice hairstyle will do way more for anyones beauty than paying someone to tell you how to starve....
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