|12th October 2009||#1|
Join Date: October 2009
Standards of Beauty for an Ancient King
This website has some wonderful material on standards of beauty in the Renaissance and for most of Western history. However, as a scholar of ancient writings, I was reminded a passage The Song of Solomon.
Tradition holds that The Song of Solomon (aka. The Song of Songs) was written by King Solomon sometime during his reign from 971 to 931 BC. Even if you're skeptical about that date, we do know it was included in the Septuagint, which meant that by the time of Christ, it was already old enough to be considered ancient.
This passage of The Song, I think, demonstrates what Solomon considered a beautiful woman. And I'll take Solomon's opinions over those of modern fashionistas any day.
There is so much here that shows how standards of beauty in the past were much more geared toward natural femininity.
In the first verse, Solomon praises the beauty of his beloved' curvaceous hips. "The curves of your hips are like jewels / The work of the hands of an artist." It's the curves of the hips that Solomon finds beautiful. He's not interested in skinny, flat, straight hips. Oh no. Solomon liked women who looked like women.
But he's not done. Not by a long shot. The very next verse states:
I am especially intrigued by the "belly is like a heap of wheat" line. Now, Solomon does not say, "Your belly is like a threshing floor covered with wheat". A floor covered with wheat would be flat, like modern standards of appearance for women.
Quite the contrary, Solomon compares her belly to a heap of wheat. A heap. Heaps aren't FLAT. Heaps, especially heaps of small round objects like wheat grains, are ROUND! The are not flat. They rise above the floor!
So . . . this belly Solomon loves so much is ROUND. It isn't flat. Moreover, Solomon states this as a compliment. This is praise of this lovely woman!
Understand, this isn't some shy teenager struggling for the right words to say and then putting his foot in his mouth. This is King Solomon -- author of Ecclesiastes and most of the Book of Proverbs. This is a man who wrote three books that not only are still read 3,000 years later, but that are considred scripture by at least two major religions. This is a guy who knows exactly what he wants to say and how to say it. And when he states "Your belly is like a heap of wheat", he means it as a compliment and fully expects that the woman to whom it is written will interpret it as such.
Well, without belaboring the point, continued reading of the passage demonstrates that what Solomon found attractive was the natural beauty of a real woman, not anything like today's standards.
Thousands of years ago, the standards of beauty were that women in their natural form, with rounded hips and bellies, were as beautiful as anything else in nature.
That was the standard of every culture until the last few decades. Where oh where have we gone wrong?
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