Curves and individuality

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Posted by Emily on June 16, 2005 at 18:58:40:

In Reply to: Dictatorship by society posted by HSG on June 14, 2005 at 21:03:13:

I think the quoted passage is largely correct, and I think the statement that "life is organized exclusively from the economic side" is a big part of the reason why the "one standardized type of American woman" became so prevalent, esp in the media.

Why? There are the reasons people usually cite, of course -- creating an artificial standard that people will pay hand over fist in a futile effort to try to achieve (thus fuelling the diet industry and gym-torture industry).

But beyond that, it may be a reflection of the phenomenon of *mass production*, which was definitely one of the most world-changing developments of the twentieth century. Unlike traditional modes of production, undertaken by craftsmen and small cottage industries, the sight of cars, tools, furniture -- and yes, clothing -- all rolling off assembly lines, each unit looking the same as the next, may have spurred an impulse to think of people in the same way -- that they should all be more or less the same. And more importantly, that they should conform to fit the products of the assembly-line. This being very different than the traditional idea (which was probably still very much alive in Europe in Spengler's time) of craftspeople tailoring items specifically to an individual customer.

So ultimately, the media envisioned mass-produced celebrities, for a mass-produced population.

The other art forms definitely emulated this sameness -- think of the interchangeable glass-box office buildings that you see in every city, or the way the homes in the suburbs are all variations on the same basic unit.

It may also have had something to do with an interpretation of democracy, where every person has the same political "weight" or value, one vote, so every one could be seen as an interchangeable unit -- and media images started to portray this.

One of the reasons why I love seeing plus-size models in the media is because they are much more unique. They are not cookie-cutter copies of one another, the way the straight-size models are. And I particularly identify with those who are distinctive, each with their own unique curves; not just another size-12 nearly-straight-size hourglass, but those with full arms, or a curvy midriff, or generous decolletage.

Their curves testify to their individuality.

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