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Old 16th November 2009   #1
Tamika
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Join Date: July 2009
Posts: 27
Default Planting the seeds of Beauty

I thought I'd post an amusing story about what a friend and I did a few weeks ago concerning this remarkable 1890 advertisement posted on this website previously.

We were procrastinating in history class, holding a casual discussion about beauty ideals. This particular friend of mine had previously agreed with several points that I had brought up about plus-size beauty, and she seemed to appreciate timeless things almost as much as I did. What would her reaction be, I wondered, if I presented her with this incredible weight-gain advertisement? I loaded up the page on my computer, and waited for her reaction.

Her eyes lit up, a wide and almost disbelieving smile spreading across her face. 'This is incredible!' she said. She could hardly believe that it was an authentic reproduction from 1890, rather than an ironic modern inversion of current beauty ideals. It was almost too good to be true. Was this really what people thought, in an era not too long ago? What sort of world was this, where women were urged to be plump to be attractive, and 'poor thin figures' were meant to be covered up in shame?

Jokingly, I commented that I was tempted to print off a pile of copies and paste them up around the school. All-girls high schools are hotbeds of body-hate, unfortunately, particularly more upmarket types such as the one that we attend. If anybody needed to see the advertisement, I thought, it would be the girls at our school.

My friend grinned, a mischievous glint in her eye. Before I knew it, she had procured a roll of sticky-tape from who-knows-where, and was urging me to print out dozens of copies of the advertisement.

I was thrilled. Who knew that she would be so eager to spread the message? And so we were off, plastering the call to get plump on the walls of our school, strategically placing the posters where most eyes would see them.

I was no stranger to slightly radical acts- I was a bit of a rebel in my marginally younger days- but putting up these particular posters was something vastly different. Defending Beauty is such an adrenaline rush, especially within the confines of a thin-worshipping all-girls high school.

Later that day, as I sat outside our locker room, I was privy to many different reactions from my peers. Unfortunately, a few people were a bit...rude, to say the least. Some were amused, and some loved it. The most common reaction, however, was confusion. Most girls simply could not believe that ideas like this were ever expressed- let alone in the mainstream.

Think about it. All your life, you've been told that skinner equals better. Every magazine cover, diet ad, television show and movie forces this message upon you- and you've believed it. You've dieted, perhaps even starved, in order to meet this standard, and hated yourself for not being able to match the ideal you see on TV.

Then, straight out of 1890, comes this advertisement. It's telling you that in order to be attractive you must be plump. That 'fleshiness' equals 'perfection of form'. That women who resemble the beautifully full illustration on the right are the most desirable, and those who resemble the thin girl on the left (who would be called 'curvy' by today's mad standards) are unfortunate, unwell, unattractive. It's a complete inversion of all you've ever believed about beauty.


No wonder most girls were so befuddled. My friend and I knew that it was not likely that many girls' minds were instantly changed upon viewing. It would take more than that to undo years of aesthetic brainwashing, and we weren't expecting devotees of timeless beauty to emerge overnight.

It wasn't really about that, though. It was about planting a seed.

They may not be instantly convinced, and that's fine. But without a doubt, the weight-gain advertisement would stay in their minds, and they would remember it later on. Maybe, when they looked at themselves in the mirror that night, they would recall the image of the beautifully plump girl of 1890. Maybe the next time they saw a diet ad, the image would again enter their thoughts. Perhaps it would make them more susceptible to images of curvaceous beauty.

And when enough of these little tidbits of Old World culture enter their world, maybe the seed planted by this small action will blossom into a fully-fledged appreciation for plus-size beauty- and wholehearted support of the aesthetic restoration.
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Old 16th November 2009   #2
vargas
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Location: Portland, OR
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Default Re: Planting the seeds of Beauty

That was an excellent experiment, Tamika, and a positive and proactive way to counter the phobia against plus-size women and their bodies. More of us need to take these kinds of actions on a regular basis. I see it as a form of protest!

I love the fact that the ad emphasizes the eating of rich foods! Today, women are bent on consuming fake, terrible-tasting, chemical-laden foods that have no richness, and no taste, in order to be underweight, while good-tasting, natural foods (like butter and well-marbled meat) are villified by the thin-supremacists and exercise nutballs as "bad" for you. Every woman is always on some silly diet these days, counting calories or cutting carbs, which is unfortunate. Changing our attitudes about natural foods that naturally fill out the figure and make you healthy and beautiful may well be the key to creating appreciation in our culture for the natural beauty ideal. Thank you for such a wonderful post!
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Old 18th November 2009   #3
MelanieW
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Default Re: Planting the seeds of Beauty

I read this post a couple of days ago, and its been on my mind ever since. It really energized me. I want to applaud Tamika for what she did. It took imagination, effort, and a lot of moxie. And I also wish to thank her for posting about it here.

It is such an inspiring act! It makes me consider ways in which I might do something similar without my own sphere of influence. I love the idea of planting seeds in peoples minds, the way Tamika did.

Every one of us can do something like that, something to win others over to an appreciation of timeless beauty. We can all influence the world around us, each in our own way, whether its advocating for plussize models, or promoting something from this site, or putting up a poster, or writing a letter, or an article, or making a video, or proselytizing friends. Anything.

Even the smallest act can create ripples, like a stone dropped into a pond. We shouldnt feel helplessly victimized by the modern, alien culture that surrounds us. We dont have to resign ourselves to live in an ugly world. We can push back against it, undo the damage thats been done, and bring back the beautiful culture of the past - that many people today dont even know ever existed.
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Old 18th November 2009   #4
Emily
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Default Re: Planting the seeds of Beauty

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tamika
The most common reaction, however, was confusion. Most girls simply could not believe that ideas like this were ever expressed- let alone in the mainstream.

Think about it. All your life, you've been told that skinner equals better. ...Then, straight out of 1890, comes this advertisement...It's a complete inversion of all you've ever believed about beauty.

I'm fascinated by the reaction that Tamika described among her schoolmates: that it was such a shock to them, completely outside the realm of their experience. Tamika's posters burst the bubble that her friends had been living inside. It cracked open their minds, just a little, and let in some sunlight.

What else I find incredibly inspiring about her act is that she stopped being a passive absorber of media culture, as most of us tend to be, and instead challenged it.

It's easy to forget that we can do this. It's so easy -- too easy -- to just become passive receptacles, swallowing whatever the media spoonfeeds us, reading magazines and watching TV and unthinkingly accepting their modern values (aesthetic, moral, and political).

But what Tamika and her friend did was a brilliant example of how anyone can give the world a nudge, push it in a given direction, actively shape the culture around them.

The people who own the media, and control the media, know how to do this. They've perfected the art of pushing the world in the direction that they want, like sheepdogs herding the flock. They construct narratives for the rest of society to absorb. They are the preachers of the 21st century, dishing out instructions on how people should dress, behave, act, and think. And it's all the more insidious because it's not totalitarian, but instead packaged in easy sound bites and pretty colours and clever marketing, like a poison pill with a candy coating.

I hope that Tamika isn't alone, but that there more young women like her who aren't content with being passively acted upon by today's degenerate culture, but will push back against it, and nudge it in a better direction. With many acts like this, the world can change -- or perhaps better to say, it can change back -- and become a more beautiful place in which to live.
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Old 23rd November 2009   #5
HSG
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Default Re: Planting the seeds of Beauty


There is something marvellously subversive about Tamika's act of protest--not just incidentally, but conceptually. In a culture such as ours, where subversion have become mainstream, breaking a lance on behalf of Classical beauty is perhaps the only type of behaviour that is genuinely radical. It is a rebellion against institutionalized rebellion; a counter to the counterculture (given that today, the counterculture of the 1960s and its degenerate values has become the entrenched establishment). "Reaction" and "revolution" have changed place in modern society, and there is no type of insurgency that is more scandalous than a revolt on behalf of the traditional culture that protest-culture itself displaced.

Today, for women, wearing a flower in the hair, or a dress with a ribbon tied in a bow at the back, is as much an act of defiance as donning trousers or suits once would have been. A voluptuous female physique, inspiring male appreciation and signalling the potential for motherhood, is as much an outrage in 2009 as an androgynously neutered figure was in 1919. Behaving with manners and civility is as outrageous these days as coarse, in-your-face juvenile delinquency once was.

(Don't believe me? Consider how a character like Edward in the Twilight books, whose noble, chivalrous values would have been considered mainstream in past centuries, has now become controversial to the Marxist-feminist establishment, while the crudest, most vulgar behaviour no longer surprises anyone.)

Could Tamika's protest be the leading edge of a movement to revive the noble, Old World culture that was overthrown in the 20th century? Would that it were. One imagines groups of youths covering up graffiti-smeared walls with elegant oak panelling, or hippie teachers angrily yanking iPods out of their students' ears and discovering that the "protest music" of the younger generation is Beethoven and Wagner.

Bravo to Tamika and her friend for their subtle but vital act of defiance. To those of you who are tired of living in a culture in which women are taught to suppress their femininity (both in physique and in behaviour), in which primitive, drumbeat-driven noise has taken the place of music, and ugly scrawl has replaced art, let Tamika's act inspire you to engage in a little protest of your own. Timeless beauty can be restored to the world. All it takes is the will, the effort, the patience, and, most of all, the courage to see the mission through.

Gorgeous Lillian Russell, embodying the well-fed, natural ideal to which Tamika's poster encouraged young women to aspire. (The polar opposite of the androgynous, alien aesthetic that is imposed on women today.)

Note the photographer's appreciative focus on Lillian's luscious arms, which were clearly viewed as the epitome of allure in the world in which she lived--as they would be in any healthy culture.

- Click to view image with original tint

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