Renaissance Fair curves
Here's an uplifting article about a reporter's impressions of the women whom she encountered at a local Renaissance Fair.
The pertinent points:
I find it fascinating that the participants in this historical-reenactment activity actually took on some of the healthier values of the past (i.e., the natural appreciation of the fuller female figure) and absorbed them.
Notice how much happier the women at this fair seemed to be than those who conform to the alien, modern media aesthetic. They laughed, ate good food, and were in fine spirits. Who could prefer a life of starvation and torture to this?
The writer asks why the women in this "subculture" have such a healthy, natural body image. The answer is obvious -- these fairs are not influenced by the segment of society that owns and creates the media. These fairs are an expression of traditional Western values (aesthetic and otherwise). They offer a tantalizing glimpse of what our culture could be like if traditional voices were more prominent in the media; if the media were not wholly controlled by the forces of modernity.
The once and future aesthetic. May it be.
Re: Renaissance Fair curves
I love RenFaires and the Society for Creative Anachronism and such. There are very many curvy goddesses there, and men who will settle for nothing less. Note also that many SCA members are textile and historic fashion experts, making, weaving, sewing and dying their own fabrics and clothes in historically appropriate patterns. It's amazing. The clothes of the Middle Ages and Renaissance were definitely designed to look and feel better on fuller figures. Ready-made clothing combined with a postmodern aesthetic concerned with everything but (biological) femininity changed all that!
Re: Renaissance Fair curves
The Renaissance occasioned the rebirth of Classical learning and a rediscovery of Classical art and aesthetics, so it stands to reason that it continues to inspire an appreciation of full-figured feminine beauty.
When I think back, I remember many interesting posts on this forum that have been related to Renaissance topics. There was Tamika's post, earlier this year, about a Renaissance-themed video game (talk about using modern technology to bring the past to life):
Another post from 2009 described Renaissance fashion and the contemporary love of the fuller figure type:
A piece about the Renaissance love of women with soft, full waists:
Another about a novel that was inspired by Titian's Venus of Urbino:
The original post on Renaissance beauty, discussing Firenzuola's On the Beauty of Women, a Renaissance-era guide to aesthetics which defined the timeless ideal of femininity as being full-figured:
A note on a PBS series about the Medici, the "Godfathers of the Renaissance":
Two Renaissance-themed art exhibits:
And of course, the first of those two, "Art and Love in Renaissance Italy," was the setting for this site's Kailee O'Sullivan interview, "Art and Modelling in New York City":
Re: Renaissance Fair curves
This statement in the original article is particularly significant:
In fact, every time period is a time period when women are "supposed to eat a lot of good food and grow round." That is what nature intended, and what it programmed into female DNA.
Little wonder, then, that "all was well with the world" in 1300s. From the standpoint of beauty and the enjoyment of life, all was well with in the world in every era that was more aristocratic than our own. It is only in our own hyper-democratic time period, when we have become exploited by the materialist cabals whom the nobility historically kept in check, and by the ideologies of resentment and their concomitant aesthetics of guilt, that all has gone wrong with the world.
As Erika correctly observes,
The fashions of the time were predicated on every element of what we now call the "New Femininity" in fashion (which isn't "new" at all, but a revival of timeless principles).
For example, consider the painting titled Three Sisters (c.1520), by the Italian Renaissance artist Palma Vecchio. It clearly exhibits the body-as-fashion-accessory principle of female clothing. The dresses are cut very wide, to show off the abundant fullness of the sisters' necks and shoulders. The girls exhibit plump curves under their chins (which the artist has lovingly depicted) and lavish fleshiness around the shoulders and upper chest areas. The garments also hint at buxom décolletage. The viewer perceives the sensual weight of the bodies under the fabric. The clothing is designed to frame the sisters' points of beauty, which are the visible indications of their well-fed physiques. This pro-plus aesthetic is emblematic of the Renaissance.
Such appreciation of full-figured femininity was a Western universal at the time, and extended to the Northern Renaissance as well. This painting of The Death of Lucretia (1518) by Lucas Cranach the Elder is a truly magnificent depiction of plus-size beauty and of the Renaissance aesthetic. Lucretia is one of the tropes that artists throughout Western history have invoked in order to celebrate female attractiveness, and observe how seductively heavy a model for Lucretia the artist selected, a girl exhibiting "a body of rounded, curvaceous, fleshier-than-fleshy proportions," as the Renaissance Faire article put it.
A close-up shows this painting to be an unreserved celebration of opulence, both in this physical person of Lucretia and in the sumptuousness of her jewellery. Cranach depicts her as a woman whose stunning beauty has entitled her to a life of wealth and luxuriance, a husband who has lavished her with the priciest of gifts. She wears not one, not two, but three necklaces, all thick and heavy with gold. Her plump facial features show her love of self-indulgence, from her "apple-cheeked" appearance (as described in the original article in this post) to an intoxicatingly full curve under her chin. This is a young woman of alluring greed, who clearly enjoys all that life has to offer, who cannot get enough of everything--from food to jewels to love--and still craves more. Even her bejeweled hairstyle, while an updo, is rich and ornate. Although the subject matter is Lucretia's suicide (occasioned by the villainy of a contemporary miscreant), which explains her sorrowful gaze, Cranach mitigates the tragedy by indicating that this Lucretia was copiously blessed with beauty and wealth, has lived for unrestrained pleasure, and has received it in abundance.
These Renaissance images celebrate the ideal of femininity that is indigenous to Europe, both north and south, and was the dominant standard of beauty prior to the world wars of the past century, which terminated the aristocratic governance of the continent and took the media out of European hands as well.
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