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Old 17th August 2005   #1
Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 1,784
Default Buxom beauty, then and now

There are many reasons why curvy vixens should count reading as one of their preferred pastimes. If they do, then they are sure to discover, in the priceless treasure-trove of Western literature, the fact that throughout human history, their beauty--timeless beauty--was acknowledged as the ideal of feminine attractiveness, and that thinness was a physical state to be avoided at all costs.

A regular reader and occasional contributor to our old forum recently directed our attention to a passage in George Eliot's classic novel, Adam Bede (1859).

In this novel, we meet several young plus-size coquettes, the most engaging of which is named Bessy Cranage. Eliot describes Bessy as "the blacksmith's buxom daughter," possessing "large red cheeks" and a love of fashion and jewellery. This earns her the disdain of the grim and humourless moralist of the novel, Dinah, who upbraids Bessy for her coquettish ways in the passage quoted below:

Here Dinah turned to Bessy Cranage, whose bonny youth and evident vanity had touched her with pity.

"Poor child! Poor child! He is beseeching you, and you don't listen to him. You think of ear-rings and fine gowns and caps, and you never think of the Saviour who died to save your precious soul. Your cheeks will be shrivelled one day, your hair will be grey, your poor body will be thin and tottering! Then you will begin to feel that your soul is not saved; then you will have to stand before God dressed in your sins, in your evil tempers and vain thoughts.

Isn't it amusing (and eye-opening) that the most frightening thing that Dinah can possibly tell young Miss Cranage--the horror of horrors that she expects will turn Bessy into a contrite soul--is the prospect that her body will someday become thin, and that her cheeks will shrivel?

Can you imagine telling someone in George Eliot's day that, a hundred years into the future, girls would actually aspire to have "thin and tottering" bodies, and "shrivelled" cheeks? They would dismiss such an idea as the very height of lunacy. Far from being enticing in any way, modern diet and gym ads would cause them to recoil in horror. They would promptly try to ensure that their buxom daughters would never look like the girls in the "after" pictures of diet ads, which they would (rightly) regard as images of starvation and ill-health.

If modern society viewed human appearance clearly and objectively, rather than through the distorting lens of the media, then girls would feel just as frightened at the prospect of a thin and shrivelled body as Bessy Cranage does. They would aspire to possess Bessy's "buxom" charms, and her healthy cheeks, and would consider themselves blessed if they never lost a precious pound . . . of beauty.

Barbara at her opulent best, dressed to thrill, from Nordstrom:

Last edited by HSG : 17th August 2005 at 15:22.
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