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Old 25th May 2006   #1
HSG
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Default ''Well-nourished''


One of the key purposes of this forum has always been to cultivate a size-positive discourse. The mass media is riddled with negative terminology referring to the fuller female figure, and is practically devoid of any positive vocabulary relating to feminine curves.

Consequently, this arsenal of verbal abuse, this stockpile of clichéd put-downs and cheap insults, is readily available to anyone who is intent on deriding full-figured women. By contrast, those individuals who wish to express a positive opinion of plus-size beauty have little phraseology at their disposal, and end up using terms that are scarcely less offensive than those writers who have an anti-plus bias.

The result is not merely that the thin-supremacists have their prejudices abetted by the inherently size-negative nature of modern English, but that even those individuals who would be disposed to approach the topic from a neutral point of view end up resorting to degrading language, for lack of any alternatives. And the perpetual use of demeaning terms inevitably perpetuates the demeaning thoughts that lie behind them.

But to immerse oneself in the discourse of other centuries, and other languages, is to liberate oneself from the straightjacket of modern culture. To enter the thought-world of the past is to discover new ways of thinking, because new words present themselves to express those thoughts.

We discussed a remarkable example of this phenomenon on our old forum, in a post titled "The Magic Word," in which we noted the existence of a Russian verb that means both "to become more attractive" and "to put on weight." By its very existence, this one single word asserts that indulgence is the key to beauty, and that developing softer, fuller features increases female attractiveness.

Regrettably, the English language has no such word--and consequently, no such thought. However, readers may wish to acquaint themselves with a term that one frequently encounters in literature from the 19th century (and earlier), which does ascribe favourable connotations to plus-size beauty--and that term is embonpoint.

The OED defines the word as follows:

embonpoint, a. and n.

A. n. Plumpness, well-nourished appearance of body: in complimentary or euphemistic sense.

B. as predicative adj. Plump, well-nourished-looking. [In Fr. only as phrase en bon point.]

The OED also provides an etymology for the word, noting its French derivation:

[F. embonpoint: f. phrase en bon point "in good condition".]

Isn't that interesting? First of all, the word embonpoint conveys the sense that a "well-nourished appearance of body" can have a "complimentary" connotation. In present-day society, one would scarcely believe this possible.

Second, the word affirms that "plumpness" does indicate that a woman is "well nourished." This would seem to be self-evident, and was received wisdom throughout human history. After all, when a woman is "well nourished," then "plumpness" is the natural, visible indication of this state. But our thin-supremacist media has somehow duped much of the public into believing that being undernourished is somehow "well nourished" (i.e., that starvation is healthy), and that when a woman displays the "plumpness" that comes with actually being "well nourished," that this does not indicate that she is nourished "well" at all.

The situation is as ludicrous as if society had been led to believe that when a person turns blue in the face from lack of oxygen, that this is the preferable hue for their skin, and that a natural pink hue is, in fact, undesirable ("too healthy"). And yet, such counter-intuitive reasoning holds sway in today's distorted definition of "healthy" female proportions.

Third, the French phrase from which embonpoint originates, "in good condition," also endows it with a positive dimension. When we say that someone is "in condition" today, we usually use it in terms of female athleticism. But the fact that "in good condition" is the basis of the word embonpoint reminds us that the natural human appraisal of a woman who displays the "well-nourished appearance of body" that comes with "plumpness" is that she is "in condition" (i.e., healthy), and that this type of figure--a soft, natural figure (and not ropy muscles or gaunt limbs)--is what constitutes a natural, womanly appearance.

* * *

Although modern English has developed an inherently thin-supremacist bent, it is possible (albeit challenging) to escape this built-in bias, and to cultivate a size-celebratory rhetoric. And once we as a society develop a more positive way of speaking (and writing) about the naturally-proportioned female figure, then a more positive way of thinking about womanly curves will germinate as well.

Nadia Peña (Dorothy Combs Models, size 14/16) modelling for Reitmans, 2006:


Last edited by HSG : 25th May 2006 at 14:07.
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Old 25th May 2006   #2
Paula
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Default Re: ''Well-nourished''

I have been reading the forums at this site for over a year, but have not registered as a member until now. I just wanted you and the other members to know what a blessing I have found this site to be. I constantly struggle with feeling beautiful as a full-figured woman. Some days, I can look in the mirror and feel beautiful, and other days, I can't. This site is helping me to slowly change my way of thinking about what is beautiful and healthy, after many years of believing what the mass media had to say about these issues. Thank you all so much.
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Old 25th May 2006   #3
bluetech
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Default Re: ''Well-nourished''

What of the word voluptuous?

According to the OED:

voluptuous, a.
3B. Suggestive of sensuous pleasure by fulness and beauty of form.


Sounds kind of like the word we're looking for.
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Old 27th May 2006   #4
HSG
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Default Re: ''Well-nourished''


It's interesting that you should mention this, because we considered the benefits and shortcomings of the word voluptuous in a discussion on this forum, a few seasons ago. You can read a summary of the conclusions here:

- Voluptuous: "Fullness and beauty of form"

Apart from some of its unhelpful modern connotations, the word "voluptuous" lacks the Russian verb's implication that beauty increases in direct proportion to how much fuller the feminine form becomes. But we often use it in discussions on this forum, because of a dearth of positive terms to describe womanly allure.

Fortunately, the most poetic images of plus-size models better define feminine beauty than even the most eloquent of phrases ever could.

Kelsey Olson modelling a truly lovely example of the New Feminininty, from Torrid (tailor-made to adorn a goddess's "fullness and beauty of form"):

- Click here to view the above item

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