Originally Posted by Suzanne R
Even in South Africa, where women of colour have always had a very entrenched idea of the superior beauty of their "traditional build," the influence of the faddy standard of emaciation is encroaching: the amount of eating disorders under young girls of Zulu ancestry are on the rise and the only factor that can be held responsible is the media's trumpeting of "thin is in"! Furthermore, it's shocking to see how quickly the breakdown of these long-held ideals takes place.
Thank you for informing us of this deeply regrettable situation, Suzanne. It ties in directly with an observation that we made in a recent post
about how the rootless modern media is locked in combat with the beauty ideals of so many of the world's most venerable cultures, as part of an effort to overwrite the values of those cultures and replace them with politically approved postmodern mores. (An assault on timeless aesthetic values invariably presages an assault on timeless values in general.)
Your comment that "women of colour have always had a very entrenched idea of the superior beauty of their traditional
build," is extremely significant, especially your use of the word "traditional," because it is tradition itself that the modern media attacks most virulently, just as a cancer aggressively targets the healthiest cells of an organism.
South Africa is at least fortunate in that the "superior beauty" of the fuller female figure is
so deeply "entrenched," and that the modern media is easily recognized as a foreign intrusion. In the West, the cultures of the Old World have an equally time-honoured legacy of preferring well-fed womanhood (as the history
of Western art prior to the 20th century demonstrates). However, the modern media was spawned in our midst. It is a parasite that first proliferated among us before spreading elsewhere, which makes it hard for European cultures to identify it and reject it as something alien and destructive.
Perhaps the greatest weapon that a nation like South Africa has in resisting the internationalist media's influence is a reassertion of its indigenous "long-held ideals," a reaffirmation of the "superior beauty" of the "traditional build" as one component of an overall effort to revive traditional cultural ideals in general.
For us in the West, doing so is rather more difficult, but just as urgently necessary. When South Africans see a beautiful full-figured woman, they identify her as an expression of their culture and heritage. When we in the West see the beauty of a plus-size model, we too should be able to recognize this as something that is ours, an embodiment of our own ideals, something that is much more familiar and innate to us than a Vogue
androgyne ever could be.
A gorgeous plus-size model like Shannon Marie (or Kelsey Olson, or Lillian Russell) personifies the kind of beauty that the Irish, or Prussians, or Saxons, or Classical Greeks can intuitively recognize as their own. From the soft fullness of her figure to her fair complexion, she possesses the look that is natural for Nordic or Celtic or Slavonic women to possess, albeit in its most dazzling form.
A woman of European ancestry can look upon such a model and admire her beauty without feeling the need to starve herself, or to disfigure her natural facial shape or body type with surgical barbarity, to match her appearance. Rather the opposite--the model's traditional beauty will make the female viewer feel empowered in her own look. Her appearance would show the viewer that it is natural for an Irish girl to have rounded limbs; natural for a German girl to have a robust, curvy waist; natural for a Polish girl to have full, rounded facial features; etc. True, the viewer will envy the model's flawless complexion, gorgeous hair, angelic face, and so forth, but she can also recognize aspects of herself in the model, just as a South African girl can look upon a "traditionally built" model of her home nation and find her own physicality validated.
The modern media pushes an unnatural aesthetic that is hostile to all traditional notions of beauty and inimical to femininity. It makes women feel alienated from their own culture, because their appearance doesn't tally with what they see in magazines or movies. But it is media culture itself that is the alien element. Plus-size women are organically linked to their ethnic heritage, which has predisposed them toward full-figured beauty--which, as Suzanne so boldly suggests, is indisputably "superior"
to the media's standard.
It is time for women in the West (just as in South Africa) to reject the media's aesthetic values as a foreign expression that has nothing to do with their own physiques, nothing to do with their Old World heritage or their historic beauty traditions, of which their well-fed bodies are such glorious expressions. Women should see in true plus-size models an alternative vision of beauty that is relatable, that is comfortable, that is familiar, that is their own. This is the beauty they should aspire to, and be inspired by.
Shannon Marie personifying what Suzanne so eloquently calls "the superior beauty of the traditional build," in a celebrated Fashion Bug ad for Mode
- A reminiscence of Shannon Marie