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-   -   ''Women celebrating shapelier figures'' (http://www.judgmentofparis.com/board/showthread.php?t=31)

HSG 5th July 2005 23:59

''Women celebrating shapelier figures''
 

(Originally posted on The Judgment of Paris Forum, February 24th, 2004.)

Reproduced below is an article titled "Women accepting bigger bodies" (the title of which we have amended slightly in the subject line of this post), which examines incipient size celebration among young women in a refreshingly positive way. The timing of the article--coinciding with Eating Disorders Awareness Week--couldn't be better. Here are a few notable excerpts:

One look down mall aisles shows young women pouring actual hips into those hip-hugger jeans and flashing real bellies in those midriff-baring tops.

It's a trend Gale Welter, a University of Arizona nutrition counselor, has noticed. "I do notice women who have fuller figures are not hesitating to wear what Britney Spears might wear. I cannot tell you what's in their heads. I'd like to sit down and ask them, but I can't figure out how to do that."

"I've been in the clothing business 30 years. The thinking used to be that you couldn't make certain styles in plus sizes. I can honestly say now that everything goes. If it's an item that's fashionable and happening, we're going to put it on the site and it's going to sell. I can't think of an item that didn't sell because it revealed too much," Weiss said.

He said that with indie films like "Real Women Have Curves" and celebs like Star Jones in the limelight, there's been growing acceptance of larger frames. "My customers feel good about themselves, and they're not afraid to show off what they have," he said.

Coleman has found that young adults generally fall into two camps. Most have accepted cultural stereotypes of beauty, she said, and there's a lot of talk about working out and dieting. Then, there are the rebels, the ones who say they respect themselves just the way they are. "I think it's definitely still in the minority, yet I do think it's growing," Coleman said.

How sad that women who love their bodies are still perceived to be "in the minority," but this article raises our hopes that this minority will swell into a vast majority in the very near future.

We have long observed that there is a sharp generational divide on matters of size celebration, and that the younger generation of women (from "Gen Y" onwards) are genuinely rediscovering the natural human appreciation of the curvaceous feminine figure. Ms. Welter's surprise at the body confidence that she finds among today's younger women--"I cannot tell you what's in their heads"--testifies to this generational split, because the salient point is not what is in the minds of the "Torrid generation," but rather, what is increasingly not there--i.e., the crippling self-doubt, the guilt about eating, and the body shame that plagued several generations of women throughout the 20th century. Those apprehensions have been replaced by a wonderful spirit of aesthetic rebellion.

Younger girls today are freeing themselves of the brainwashing that enslaved the minds of their mothers and grandmothers. They are learning to be free. They are learning to be beautiful.

Here is the complete text of the article:

* * *

Women accepting bigger bodies
By Rhonda Bodfield Bloom, Arizona Daily Star

There are always going to be some women built like the slim stalks of flowers. There are always going to be others with a more trunk-like sturdiness to them.

No aspen is ever going to look like a daisy, and carbs have nothing to do with it.

While we're light years away from a society in which women don't gain value based on a fickle genetic pool and the strength of self-denial, there is, perhaps, the faintest little heartbeat of change.

A growing number of pop culture icons have shapes harkening back to the va-va-voom days of Marilyn Monroe. Beyonce, J.Lo, Pink, Queen Latifah and Catherine Zeta-Jones aren't cut from the celery-stalk frames of Sarah Jessica Parker and Cameron Diaz but come with varying degrees of curves.

And one look down mall aisles shows young women pouring actual hips into those hip-hugger jeans and flashing real bellies in those midriff-baring tops.

It's a trend Gale Welter, a University of Arizona nutrition counselor, has noticed. "I do notice women who have fuller figures are not hesitating to wear what Britney Spears might wear. I cannot tell you what's in their heads. I'd like to sit down and ask them, but I can't figure out how to do that."

Norman Weiss, founder of the Internet fashion company Alight.com, thinks he has the answer. His company, which sells only stylish, larger-size fashions -- and quite a few sexy, bare little numbers -- doubled in business between 2001 and 2003.

"I've been in the clothing business 30 years. The thinking used to be that you couldn't make certain styles in plus sizes. I can honestly say now that everything goes. If it's an item that's fashionable and happening, we're going to put it on the site and it's going to sell. I can't think of an item that didn't sell because it revealed too much," Weiss said.

He said that with indie films like "Real Women Have Curves" and celebs like Star Jones in the limelight, there's been growing acceptance of larger frames. "My customers feel good about themselves, and they're not afraid to show off what they have," he said.

Becky Coleman, a body-image counselor and owner of Ocean Embodiment Center in Tucson, Ariz., interviewed women and adolescents at malls and schools for a documentary on the subject. She was struck by a few things. First, there's a greater consciousness around body acceptance, even if acceptance doesn't actually happen all the time. And when adolescents were asked what they liked and didn't like about their bodies, not one of the girls mentioned her weight -- something Coleman is still puzzling over.

From teaching at the community college level, Coleman has found that young adults generally fall into two camps. Most have accepted cultural stereotypes of beauty, she said, and there's a lot of talk about working out and dieting. Then, there are the rebels, the ones who say they respect themselves just the way they are. "I think it's definitely still in the minority, yet I do think it's growing," Coleman said.

Take A.J. Duxbury, a 19-year-old creative writing major at the University of Arizona ho works out because she wants to be healthy, not because she's obsessed with her weight. "I'm 5 feet, 10 inches, 160 pounds, and proud of it," she said.

"I personally don't wrestle with weight problems, because my family put no importance on that -- it was all about what was inside -- and I'm very thankful for that."

She used to worry about it more, she said. "But I just came to the conclusion that it's not worth it. If that's what someone's looking at, then I don't want anything to do with those types of people."

But for all that, it's far too soon to say things are better.

The thin ideal has been ingrained in our culture for a long time. And we're vain. The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery last month reported growth in all areas of cosmetic procedures. Botox treatments were up 11 percent over the previous year, breast augmentation was up 8.5 percent, and liposuction remained the most popular surgical procedure. Shows like "Extreme Makeover" only fuel that trend.

At Mirasol, a center for eating-disorder recovery in Tucson, clients sleep on Ralph Lauren sheets, eat lemongrass chicken satay and try to tap into the reason they developed disordered eating in the first place, through a range of explorations from art therapy to clinical hypnosis.

Mirasol psychotherapist Joyce Mann said studies show that 70 percent of American women don't like their bodies, and other studies have shown that 31 percent of 9-year-old girls experience body-image problems. Boys aren't immune either, confronted with rippling Batman abs and out-of-scale biceps that mirror Barbie's unattainable shape.

(Scripps Howard News Service)

* * *

One more point in the article deserves highlighting--i.e., the Mirasol centre's use of "art therapy" to help treat eating disorders.

Art therapy? What a brilliant idea. Art provided "therapeutic" benefits throughout history, and was both a reflection of the health of Western culture, and one of the contributing factors to that health. It is not surprising that today, as Western art convalesces from the malaise of modernity, it can help society recover from some of its contemporary maladies as well.

Stanzione, Cleopatra c. 1640:

- Note the description of the figure in the painting



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