Join Date: July 2005
Re: Ancient preference for curves
Here's a follow-up article on this topic from New Zealand.
It doesn't have a very nice title, but I think it includes an interesting point:
We all know about those hand-sized Ice Age women carved in stone – those plump ladies with huge breasts and behinds, tiny heads, artful hairdos and no faces.
They're known as Palaeolithic Venuses and they raise a lot of puzzling questions: How come these almost identical figurines were found all the way from France to Siberia? How come this stylised carving tradition was practised and passed down over 20,000 years? What purpose did they serve?...
Professor Dale Guthrie, from the university of Alaska, and author of The Nature of Paleolithic Art, is surprised that while Paleolithic people were surrounded by plenty of things – babies, men, animals, plants, battle scenes, clan symbols – these things were never represented in their art, only well-endowed women. Guthrie suggests that all the figurines were made by young men and "it's not too difficult to theorise about what was on their minds in their free time". He thinks the similarly stylised Venus figures represent a cross-cultural view of women shared by prehistoric Europeans...for more than 20,000 years.
That a fashionable body shape should persist for 20,000 years is almost beyond the comprehension of modern Europeans. Our fashionable shape-shifting ladies have rapidly morphed from the Belle Epoche hourglass, to the Edwardian bustle shape, to the curveless boy-like creatures of the 1920s, to today's skeletal catwalk strutters foisted on us by women and poofter fashion designers
These days a red-blooded man can lose all respectability by admitting to a penchant for well-endowed women. But, underground, hankering after Ice Age beauties is alive and well.
A minute on the Internet will reveal about a million [Web] sites displaying beckoning super-curvy ladies with acres of arched backs and Paleolithic backsides.
The author doesn't draw the obvious conclusion: that the "fashionable" full-figured body shape that he describes -- which persisted for 20,000 years, and continued right until the 1920s, when it was displaced by the androgynous standard that persists until today -- was "fashionable" because it represents the true, archetypal ideal of female beauty. And if certain communities hadn't come to dominate Western culture starting at the time of the "shape change" of the cultural ideal, it would still be in place today.