Join Date: July 2005
Plus-size is the new healthy
An excellent New York Times
article over the weekend announced the truth that many of us have long known: being full-figured is healthier than being underweight.
It comes with an absolutely brilliant editorial illustration, showing a Shannon-Marie-like blonde beauty using her generous hip to knock the crown off a malnourished brunette pageant winner. It's as if Helen of Troy came back to Earth, to reclaim her title of ideal beauty.
Has there ever been a more perfect graphic illustrating the Aesthetic Restoration?
The article is here:
And here are the pertinent excerpts:
Chubby Gets a Second Look
By GINA KOLATA
Published: November 11, 2007
HEALTH and beauty. They seem inextricable. That smiling, slender woman on the cover of Self magazine. The ripped guy looking out from the pages of Men’s Health. They’re thin...
But they might be better off if they had listened to their grandmother and put a little meat on those bones. Chubby, it turns out, may be the new healthy. Who knows if it will be the new beautiful.
Two years ago, federal researchers found that "over"weight people had the lowest mortality rate of any weight group. Investigating further, they were able to link causes of death to specific weights...thin people had more deaths from everything but cancer and heart disease.
But there were 100,000 fewer deaths among the "over"weight than would have been expected if those people had been of normal weight. This is what might politely be called the chubby category, with body mass indexes (a measure of weight for height) of 25 to 30. A woman, for instance, who is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs between 146 and 175 pounds.
About a third of Americans fall into that range, defined, less politely, as “overweight” by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That’s not exactly the Madison Avenue vision of beauty. Perhaps Rubens, the Baroque master, was closer to the mark. The women in his paintings were considerably rounder than the women celebrated today. “Over upholstered,” as Holland Cotter, a culture critic for The New York Times, once put it.
It’s too soon to say. But it may not be a bad thing, say some social scientists. “The ideal image of a woman is almost impossible for anybody to achieve,” said Peter J. Brown, an anthropologist at Emory University.
Dr. Brown is among those social scientists who say that being thin really isn’t about health, anyway, but about social class and control.
...in the 19th century...Heavy women of that era were stage stars. Lillian Russell, “airy fairy Lillian, the American beauty,” weighed 200 pounds...
The body mass indexes of Miss America winners, according to a 2000 study, have been steadily decreasing since 1922, so much so that for most winners in the last three decades their indexes would cause them to be considered underweight.
How thin is thin enough? One Miss America had a body mass index of 16.9, which is considerably underweight. A woman of Emma Newkirk’s height would have had to weigh 99 pounds to have that body mass index. That may help explain why, in recent years, as many as two-thirds of women...have expressed dissatisfaction with their weight.
So what does this all mean for the chubby among us, who may be the healthiest, or at least, the most likely to live the longest? Will chubby become fashionable? That may have to await the day when chubby becomes inextricably linked to health..
Note the tell-tale references to Lillian Russell and Rubens. Uniquely among journalists, this reporter actually has an understanding of Western aesthetic history, and realizes what an artificial blip, what an aberration, the cult of emaciation is.
Let's hope this finally signals the move towards the restoration of the full-figured feminine ideal.