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-   -   "A desire for the comfort of fullness" (http://www.judgmentofparis.com/board/showthread.php?t=223)

HSG 27th November 2005 13:29

"A desire for the comfort of fullness"
 

Recently, our colleague D. Trull kindly brought to our attention a film titled Spanglish (2004), which includes a profound statement about the suppression of timeless beauty.

Like several other recent films, Spanglish dramatizes conflicts between Hispanic and "Anglo" cultures, respectively personified in this case by a Mexican immigrant maid and her WASPish employer (played by a haggard-looking Tea Leoni), along with their two daughters.

The film's most moving sequence shows the Tea Leoni character (an androgynized, exercise-torture devotee) humiliating her young plus-size daughter about her weight. We will not reveal the nature of the humiliation here, except to say that it involves the kind of emotional sadism that heartless mothers justify to themselves with that inhuman rationalization, "It's for 'her own good.'"

The humiliation scene infuriates the Hispanic maid, who thereupon proceeds to bring home an especially generous helping of pastries for her own daughter, Cristina.

The film unquestionably means for the audience to "side" with the maid's reaction, and to reject the cruelty of the Leoni character.

But more importantly, the drama of the film plays out against the backdrop of Cristina's voice-over narration, which is presented as the text of her admissions essay to Princeton University (ostensibly submitted many years after the events portrayed in Spanglish, as Cristina is 13 for the duration of the film). And in conjunction with the sequence described above, Cristina's voice-over narration states,

There is one particular cultural difference which I wish to explore academically at Princeton. American women, I believe, actually feel the same as Hispanic women about weight: A desire for the comfort of fullness. And when that desire is suppressed for style, and deprivation allowed to rule, dieting, exercising American women become afraid of everything associated with being curvaceous, such as wantonness, lustfulness, sex, food, motherhood. All that is best in life.

Perhaps no film has ever featured as size-celebratory a statement as this. Not only does it emphasize a preference for full-figured femininity over "dieting, exercizing" artificiality, but it acknowledges "being curvaceous" as an essentially womanly trait. And the revelation of an innately feminine "desire" (with all of that word's connotations) for the comfort of fullness has many layers of meaning, all positive--e.g., the comfort of acquiring fullness, and of possessing and retaining (or even augmenting) fullness. Women speak of "comfort foods"--and why should this phrase be burdened with any negative connotations? Why shouldn't this notion instead be an entirely positive one?

And perhaps most daringly, the above statement equates the pleasures of food with those of motherhood and procreation as "all that is best in life"--for certainly, traditional motherhood, like the innately feminine craving for food, has been unjustly maligned in the past century, with the results being needless misery and suffering for several generations of women.

The rest of Spanglish will appeal to some more than others, depending on their taste for character dramas. But kudos to writer/director James L. Brooks for including such an affirmative and far-sighted statement in his film.

Yanderis (now with Heffner Management, as well as Dorothy Combs Models and Click NY), size 14; who, by welcoming "the comfort of fullness," is enjoying "all that is best in life":


MelanieW 30th November 2005 13:27

Re: "A desire for the comfort of fullness"
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HSG
"There is one particular cultural difference which I wish to explore academically at Princeton. American women, I believe, actually feel the same as Hispanic women about weight: A desire for the comfort of fullness. And when that desire is suppressed for style, and deprivation allowed to rule, dieting, exercising American women become afraid of everything associated with being curvaceous, such as wantonness, lustfulness, sex, food, motherhood. All that is best in life."

That quote from the film has to be one of the best, if not THE best statements I have ever heard about plussize beauty, and how many women try to destroy their own appearance with self-inflicted physical torture - for no reason at all. This does deserve an academicy study - many, in fact.

How sad that the mass media keeps pushing starvation and exercise torture at us, trying to make us WANT to punish ourselves. Why not produce magazines that celebrate "wantonness, lustfulness, sex, food, motherhood" - which are, as the film says, "All that is best in life"? A magazine with those themes, and featuring plussize models, would be a dream come true for every woman in America.

By the way, I rented the movie, and enjoyed it, but I still found it frustrating that both the main character and her daughter were terribly skinny. Its another case where the words are positive, but the images do NOT correspond.

HSG 1st December 2005 12:24

Re: "A desire for the comfort of fullness"
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MelanieW
Why not produce magazines that celebrate "wantonness, lustfulness, sex, food, motherhood" - which are, as the film says, "All that is best in life"?

A magazine that celebrated precisely those aspects of life already existed, not so long ago, and it was called Mode. It made no concessions to the "aesthetics of guilt" that dominate modern society, but instead revelled in the voluptuous beauty of La dolce vita ("the sweet life"), featuring regular columns with titles such as, "The Pleasure Zone."

Mode was encouraging its readers to adore their "delicious curves," and to "live life deliciously," long before these terms became the slogans of a contemporary ad campaign.

And the current obsession with self-inflicted physical torture contradicts all timeless notions of femininity. It is no accident that in many historical depictions of Venus, the goddess of beauty, she is presented reclining on a sofa, lounging, languishing most sensually, attended by votaries eager to serve her every whim. Her languor is an essential aspect of her beauty.

In an 1894 literary essay titled "A Defence of Cosmetics" (which is, at least on one level, precisely what the title suggests), the English fin-de-siècle author Max Beerbohm writes:

[Women] are butterflies who must not flit, if they love their bloom. Now, setting aside the point of view of passion, from which very many obvious things might be said, (and probably have been by the minor poets,) it is, from an intellectual point of view, quite necessary that women should repose. Hers is the resupine sex. On her couch she is a goddess . . .

The world in which we live moves faster and faster, and imposes pressures on women of every sort--a fact that is only compounded by the efforts of the mass media to coerce women into willingly subjecting themselves to the physical ordeal of pointless exercise regimens.

That makes the traditional association of feminine beauty with relaxation and sensual indolence a blessed relief, and a refreshing escape from the unrelieved tensions of contemporary life.

Jordan (size 14/16, Wilhelmina) in full Odalisque mode, modelling for Evans UK, Fall/Winter 2005:


English Rose 4th December 2005 16:41

Re: "A desire for the comfort of fullness"
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HSG
And the current obsession with self-inflicted physical torture contradicts all timeless notions of femininity. It is no accident that in many historical depictions of Venus, the goddess of beauty, she is presented reclining on a sofa, lounging, languishing most sensually, attended by votaries eager to serve her every whim. Her languor is an essential aspect of her beauty.

That makes the traditional association of feminine beauty with relaxation and sensual indolence a blessed relief, and a refreshing escape from the unrelieved tensions of contemporary life.

I have found myself that one of the key elements of full feminine beauty is exactly that languor...that relaxed and welcoming sensuality. It is speaking without speaking. It is the soft and vital sparkle in the eye, the rich skin and hair. It is opulance that is lacking in our waif-ish sisters. We are at peace. We love life and savour it.

And is that not the core of what we all seek? To be content and happy and loved?

M. Lopez 9th December 2005 14:41

Re: "A desire for the comfort of fullness"
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HSG
Women speak of "comfort foods"--and why should this phrase be burdened with any negative connotations? Why shouldn't this notion instead be an entirely positive one?

I came across an interesting article that ties in with this notion:

http://www.commercialappeal.com/mca...L-PRINT,00.html

The author is writing about the attempts by some member of her family to change the menu of their Thanksgiving celebrations, and about how she resists this. I think it applies even more directly to the forthcoming Christmas holidays, and the family gatherings that we all enjoy at that time.

It's a warm-hearted article, and it contains the following statement, which I thought was especially encouraging:


"So this plan to tamper with the Thanksgiving Day menu -- what larger message are my dad and sister trying to send? Does a revised menu speak to their simmering discontent and a hunger for changes that have nothing to do with cholesterol levels?

I don't know what they're trying to say, but I don't want to hear it. Today, I plan to bring sweet potato casserole and macaroni and cheese -- the baked kind, with eggs and milk and full-fat cheese.

By doing so, I'm saying that I like the sameness Thanksgiving brings. The location may change, the guests around the table may change, but eating the same comfort foods serves up the comfort and closeness and security our family enjoys together only once or twice a year."


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