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Old 13th June 2011   #1
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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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Old 31st December 2011   #2
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Default Re: Plus-size beauty is aristocratic (article)

This article makes explicit the true, anti-aristocratic, levelling origins of the modern androgynous ideal, a base motivation on the part of its proponents which the readers of this site have always implicitly apprehended.

Aesthetic values do not operate in a vacuum, nor do they arise spontaneously. They being with a world-view; in fact, they are a visible, concrete expression of a world view.

There is limitless irony in the nonsensical claim that the first underweight models were "easier to identify with than the hauteur of the aristocratic and considerably more statuesque fashion icons that preceded them." Not for the general public. Only for the marginal cabal of alien, rootless "progressives" who took over the culture, most notably in the later 1960s--right at the time that the androgynous standard emerged.

These new, anti-traditional elites instituted an unfeminine look for women with which they, the urban cabal, could relate, with their warped, degenerate tastes, and one which fit in with their political agenda.

But as for the general public, they have always enjoyed similar tastes to those of the aristocracy. The history of Western culture testifies to this. Shakespeare's plays and Mozart's operas were enjoyed by the nobility and the peasantry alike. It is only the alien taste of the rootless, "progressive" elite that is an aberration and appeals to no one but the small cadre of individuals who comprise this narrow class.

It is very telling that the original justification for the anorexic standard was a claim that it was devised to give the public something to "identify with," but then, as the alien elite consolidated power over the media, the justification for this emaciated standard morphed seamlessly into entirely the opposite rationale, becoming vaunted as a supposedly "aspirational" ideal. This doublethink-like move reveals an eternal truth about self-styled revolutionaries and throne-topplers: they never actually wanted to represent the people. They just wanted to be the new power-brokers, displacing the old.

But what's worse than the crass nature of this cultural power grab is the fact that, as noted above, at least the tastes of the former aristocracy matched those of the public. Aristocratic tastes actually were relatable to the general populace. Both the common people and the aristocracy were united in their appreciation of the timeless ideal of full-figured beauty. Only the rootless urban elites resented it, given their innate resentment of all beauty; and the aesthetic that they imposed, in all of its self-conscious, unfeminine ugliness, appeals to no one but themselves.

Spengler famously calls the nobility a "higher peasantry," pointing out that both are "plant-like and instinctive, deep-rooted in the ancestral land, propagating themselves in the family tree, breeding and bred." In contrast to this, the rootless, "progressive" clique, which he dubs the "city," is alien to everyone but itself:

By way of protest against the ancient symbols of the soil-bound life, the city opposes to the aristocracy of birth the notion of an aristocracy of money and an aristocracy of intellect—the one not very explicit as a claim, but all the more effective as a fact; the other a truth, but nothing more than that and, as a spectacle for the eye, not very convincing. (The Decline of the West, Vol. II)
How telling that Spengler should specifically cite the failure of the "spectacle for the eye" that the city elite produce, for that is exactly what fashion is. By their very own, alienated nature, the modern arbiters of taste are incapable to creating a cultural standard that appeals to anyone except themselves, one which they only keep in place by a cultural hegemony, a monopoly on visual production. And given that this toxic, anorexic standard inflicts eating disorders and negatively impacts the lives of the majority of women, it needs to be dispensed with, and a more natural, harmonious vision put in its place.

To restore the timeless ideal of plus-size beauty, one would ideally first restore the aristocracy itself, but, failing that, one must at the very least restore an appreciation for the very idea of nobility, for aristocratic values and everything they represented: opulence, abundance, and natural, essential human identity.

Lillian Russell as "The Grand Duchess" (1896), exhibiting a soft, sensual fleshiness that all classes, high and low, could relate to, and admire.

Click to enlarge

- Lillian Russell Galleries

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