Here's an uplifting article about a reporter's impressions of the women whom she encountered at a local Renaissance Fair.
The pertinent points:
Renaissance Faire Body Image
By Aimee Boyle
Walking around the Renaissance Faire today, I couldn't help but notice that beneath many a leather lace up corset and layered flowing skirt-deal, lay a body of rounded, curvaceous, fleshier-than-fleshy proportions.
I have never in my life seen as many full-bodied women, so full of confidence, as I saw today. Why, I wondered, did the subculture of youth interested in Renaissance Faire role playing and fantasy imagery not seem as twisted about body image as their more modern-leaning counterparts?
It was as if I'd walked into a time period when a woman was supposed to eat a lot of good food and grow round. And it's funny to think of that statement as being shocking because, in our current climate, women eating a lot of good food and getting round is aesthetically a hotbed of emotional, social and psychological turmoil.
But today, in the 1300s, all was well with the world...The women grew their hair down to their lower backs and pushed their ample bosoms up, out and over their fitted garments, laughing with one another and tending their duties with apple-cheeked merriment.
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.