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Old 24th November 2009   #1
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Join Date: November 2008
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Default ''In Italy, I want amplitude'' (article)

Every once in a while, even in the modern media world, you come across little glimpses of sanity. This article is an example.

The writer is an underweight woman, a former Manhattanite now living in Italy, who has been positively influenced by the more curve-appreciative Mediterranean society. She has become dissatisfied with her emaciated figure, and longs for curves.,6794094.story

Where a little round is all right

In Italy, a full form is the look of a life lived fully.

By Nina Burleigh

3:57 PM PST, November 24, 2009

Writing From Rome

As Thanksgiving approaches, my friends at home are pondering how to endure holiday feasting and still slip into their size 0s, even though the wafer silhouette is overdue to be replaced as an ideal in these dire times. I have been away from Manhattan only five months and, suddenly, I want amplitude. Living in Italy, where all the women seem genetically curvaceous and not so troubled by extra flesh, natural ectomorphs like me seem like wraiths of the financial apocalypse. I just don't fit in among these robust specimens...

Forgive me if you want to look starved, but being skinny is not all it's cracked up to be. For one thing, I'm perpetually cold in winter. For another, my children will never remember snuggling against a soft shoulder. And my poor husband -- condemned to life in bed beside a skeleton.

The writer describes how being underweight is a condition of inadequacy, of lack, of want:

Italian women make me feel "meager." That is the word the Italians would use if they felt rude enough to explain how I look to them. The root of both the Italian and French words for thin (magro and maigre, respectively) is related to our word for not having enough. It is not at all a flattering word, not a pretty notion.

By contrast, the visual signs of feminine fullness are very pretty notions indeed, and the writer describes them quite sensually:

Frescoes of plump Madonnas suckling holy babies are on every wall here. All summer long, their rightful heiresses stroll the Italian streets, flesh spilling over necklines, hips rolling without shame. Their bosoms don't appear to be man-made either, and they are on display...

It's as if there is some subspecies difference between us, some Sophia Loren DNA they all share. Italian women are rounder than American women as a rule... I suspect it has something to do with generations of three-course lunches, consumed at leisure.

Admirably, in an inversion of the kind of body-diminishment propaganda that permeates modern society, the writer yearns for a way in which to augment her figure:

I know I can never eat my way to Sophia Loren's curves, but in order to put some meat on my bones, I have taught myself how to consume the customary Italian antipasto, pasta and secondi (preferably a slab of osso buco or a filet), followed by a dolce and a coffee at least a few times a week at dinner. When we got here, I used to watch people in restaurants tuck away this amount of food and shake my head in disbelief. Now I know how they do it. It's a way of eating, one that involves time but also, yogi-like deep breathing. Inhale the aroma, bring fork to mouth, taste, chew, swallow. Breathe deeply. Rest. Repeat.

What helps immeasurably, she notes, is the Italian cultural love of curves, and of seeing women eat generous portions:

The other night as I was practicing my newfound skills at one of these dinners, I sat next to a charming Italian gentleman of a certain age -- a diplomat, lawyer, musician and all-around Neapolitan charmer. We talked about olives, wine and Silvio Berlusconi, and every once in a while he murmured, "Grandissima Nina, grandissima," in an admiring tone. I overheard him saying the same thing to the woman on his left: "Grandissima Alessandra, grandissima."

The way it rolled off his tongue made me feel warm, extroverted, fascinating, large. I looked it up when I got home. It's the feminine form of grandissimo, a word that means "very large, tall, high, wide, deep or great."

Now, that is truly encouraging to read - a woman who feels good about feeling "large," and uses that word appreciatively, and knows that it makes her "fascinating."

"Large" is an inherently positive word, despite modern media brainwashing. It's the exact opposite of "meager," which is negative.

Best of all, she feels better about herself after experiencing weight gain:

I guess Italian women hear such compliments all the time. Today, after a month of more or less concerted eating, I notice that my pants are getting a bit tight. This pleases me...I feel a little less meager.

Ahh, grandissima Nina, grandissima!

In Italy, this writer freed herself from the media culture of New York, with its alien values, and reconnected to the natural, feminine appreciation of feeling "large," and of augmenting her curves. All women should feel this way.
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