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Old 13th June 2011   #1
Senior Member
Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 517
Default Plus-size beauty is aristocratic (article)

I stumbled across an article a while back, and it came to mind again the other day as we were discussing the Queen Grace collection, starring Kelsey Olson, and noting how appropriate the monarchical name of the label was, given that plus-size beauty is an aristocratic ideal (as the Judgment of Paris has always maintained).

The author notes a fact that, I'm glad to see, is increasingly being recognized, even by the media -- that the notion that "bodies go in and out of fashion" is a lie, and that instead, full-figured femininity was the ideal of beauty throughout history. The author's springboard for the article is the case of a woman who died after (idiotically) undergoing a silicone injection to augment the size of her posterior (hence the reference to a "larger bottom").

Throughout history, a larger bottom has, for the most part, been considered more aesthetically appealing. One only has to look at Titian's nudes, themselves inspired by the classical ideal, or, most often cited, the voluptuous nudes that inhabit Rubens' exuberant world, to know that thin hasn't always been the holy grail.

Now, here's where she makes her reference to aristocracy. This passage is also interesting because it explains the imposition of the underweight ideal in a novel way. I've never encountered this particular historical perspective before.

It is only very recently that the slender-hipped, boyish-bottomed silhouette that the fashion industry in particular appears to embrace established itself. A brief flirtation with androgyny in the 1920s aside – as best exemplified by the Garçonne look that swept Paris at that time – it wasn't until the 1960s that a less rounded body established itself as the feminine ideal.

Blame Swinging London. Teenagers were taking the hitherto bourgeois fashion establishment by storm and, they argued – and in retrospect this too seems a bitter pill to swallow – the so-called girl-next-door good looks of the likes of Jean Shrimpton and even Twiggy were easier to identify with than the hauteur of the aristocratic and considerably more statuesque fashion icons that preceded them.

Therefore, the attempt by the purveyors of today's anorexic standard to associate plus-size beauty with the lower classes is rubbish. In truth, as this site has always maintained, plus-size beauty is aristocratic. "Hauteur" is a quality that the most gorgeous plus-size models do evoke in their images (and it is a major aspect of their allure). This article is rare in acknowledging this fact.

But I've never before encountered a writer who specifically identified that the trend towards emaciated androgyny was anti-aristocratic and anti-bourgeois. This revelation turns many of the conventional excuses for pushing the famine-victim look (e.g., "fashion is aspirational") on their heads, because as this article indicates, the dessicated look was intentionally meant to evoke the meagre and humble "girl next door."

It's obvious when you think about it, but it's rare to see this point admitted by the fashion press.

The author even extends her analysis to the notorious reanimated cadaver herself, Kate Moss.

The appeal of Kate Moss was later presented in similarly misleading a manner. The young, flat-chested, snake-hipped Ms Moss, it was said, was much closer to the average female than her supermodel predecessors, with their gravity-defying breasts and gym-honed, muscular backsides.

Now, there may be some validity to this latter contention, which maintains that the '80s model look was just as unnatural as the '90s-till-now waif look. As this site's post about Kim Alexis noted, the '80s "supermodel" look triggered eating disorders too.

That's why the Classical ideal, full-figured beauty, the beauty of genuine plus-size models, with their soft, untoned physiques, is the true ideal, the healthiest and most natural look for women. And paradoxically, although it is an aristocratic look, a look of "hauteur," it is also "easier to identify with" than either the walking skeleton runway model of today, or the still-underweight-and-unnatural look of the '80s model.
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