Relative tastes? Or life and death?


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Posted by HSG on April 10, 2005 at 04:12:02:

In Reply to: Re: The Barbara Brickner swimsuit edition posted by M. Lopez on April 09, 2005 at 01:10:44:


The contrast between these two cultural representations of female beauty--plus-size goddesses in swimwear, or straight-size waifs in swimwear--is not just a matter of mere relativism, of beauty being in the eye of the beholder, and of one man's meat being another man's poison.

Rather, the difference between the two ideals is as stark and significant as is the difference between life and death.

Further demonstrating what today's real health crisis is, (i.e., not a "weight epidemic," but rather, the glamourization of emaciation,) the government of Quebec just published the findings of an investigative report into the death of one Cathy Paulin.

To put it bluntly, Ms. Paulin starved and tortured herself to death--through dieting, through exercise, and through the use of illegal weight-control drugs.

And why did she do so?

Because she was a finalist in the "Miss Hawaiian Tropic" contest.

That's right. Because she wanted to be a waif swimsuit model.

Curious? Have a look at the official site of this organization:

www.MissHawaiianTropic.com

Think about it: this young lady died--died--trying to look like that--trying to look like a leather-skinned bone-rack, with synthetic implants--trying to diminish whatever beauty she possessed.

But what if there had been a "Miss Plus-Size Hawaiian Tropic" contest for her to enter, instead?

What if Cathy Paulin had aspired to develop a figure resembling Barbara Brickner's, instead of a figure resembling an adolescent boy's?

Then, she would have eaten whatever she wanted--and as much as she wanted. Then, she would not have exercised herself into exhaustion.

Then, she would still be alive today.

A link to the official Quebec government press release reporting the coroner's findings in this matter appears at the bottom of this post. It is in French, and as no official English translation is currently available, we have cobbled one together from an edited Systran version.

Naturally, we have removed the specific details of Ms. Paulin's starvation regimen, to avoid prompting any type of "mimicked behaviour":


Investigative report into the death of MmeCathy Paulin

Dangers of a reducing diet without adequate nutritional control

Sainte-Foy, April 7, 2005 - the Office of the coroner announces the deposit of the report of the coroner Paul G Dionne following the investigation held to clear up the causes and the circumstances of the death of Mme Cathy Paulin, 27 years, to Saint-Jérôme, August 3, 2004.

Mrs. Paulin had won the regional final of [the Miss Hawaiian Tropic contest] and was preparing for the Quebec finale, which was held on August 15, 2004. Since the last contest, she had lost 20 pounds . . .

. . . Every day, she use gym apparatus in order to develop her muscular mass, and practiced aerobics using video cassettes . . .

Some witnesses reported that on the day of the 1st and August 2, 2004, Mme Paulin seemed very tired and complained about headaches. She also seemed confused and had fainting spells.

August 3, towards 9 a.m., Mme Paulin does not show up for work. Towards 10 a.m.,she is found in her home, lying on her bed, by the police officers and ambulance men. Rigor mortis had set in, making resuscitation impossible.

The police examination eliminated the presence of another person at the time of the death. No mark of violence was found on the body of the young woman.

The coroner concluded that Mme Paulin died accidentally of a cardiac arrhythmia, following electrolytic imbalance, in the context of a reducing diet . . .

The coroner recommends that the population be informed and sensitized about the dangers of a regimen aimed at slimming, and increasing muscular mass, without adequate nutritional control.


The war between the natural ideal of full-figured beauty and the artificial standard of androgynous thinness is more than just a matter of taste.

It is a matter of life and death.

Barbara Brickner, "Mrs. Plus-Size Hawaiian Tropic, 2005":

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