Shapely, or shapeless?


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Posted by HSG on June 23, 2005 at 19:44:29:


Elena Miro's Web site (www.elenamiro.com) is now available in many different languages, and it is well worth the effort to browse the various portals, from time to time.

One never knows what one might find.

For example, the following graphic recently appeared in the Portuguese section of the site. It advertises a museum exhibit consisting of the winning entries in Elena Miro's recent art competition, as well as of the company's "Forever Beautiful" advertising images, which juxtapose living goddess Barbara Brickner with images of Classical femininity:

And, like so many Elena Miro promotions, this image communicates far more than one might think.

Consider that image alongside the following text from the English Elena Miro portal, which describes the company's present clothing line as

A collection that breathes with romanticism (bright colors and the use of prints), for a woman who wants to be adventurous and catch the eye, instead of hiding herself away. After all, the Elena Miro woman is well aware now of the beauty and sensuality of her curves.

This philosophy represents a significant turn in thinking about plus-size fashion. It represents a total rejection of the old approach, which was based on the premise that full-figured women sought to be invisible, and to hide themselves under swathes of formless fabric, because they did not consider their curves attractive, nor did they believe that anyone else ever would.

So what has caused this change?

A number of factors--but the image shown above undoubtedly has something to do with it. Or rather, the process of aesthetic education that the graphic suggests--i.e., a deliberate look to the past, and careful scrutiny of artistic depictions of plus-size beauty.

Such an examination reveals that the one common denominator tying together all historical depictions of full-figured goddesses is that their artists invariably revealed, rather than concealed, their voluptuous feminine curves.

* * *

So how significant is such a realization for plus-size fashion?

Very.

Just look at the following image of a contemporary European fashion show, promoting clothing for full-figured women:

This manner of dress is called, "Wearing your body-shame on your sleeve."

The clothes are dowdiness incarnate. They drape over the women's bodies like dyed potato sacks. They hang limply and loosely, covering up every trace of the wearers' femininity. One wonders if these women even have waists, or figures, or shape of any kind? If they do, no one would ever know.

It is drab clothing such as this which is responsible for decades of horrid jokes about plus-size women dressing in tents, or drapes, or acres of fabric.

No wonder the public was duped into thinking that full-figured women were "shapeless," when styles like these were the norm. What "shape" can a viewer discern in anyone wearing such clothing?

What is worse is that many people unwittingly equated the formlessness of the clothing with a perceived formlessness on the part of the wearer. Full-figured women were never shapeless--but their clothing was, and that shapelessness was transferred to the wearers themselves.

Was there ever a more blatant aesthetic misrepresentation? By their very nature, curvaceous women are very shapely--far more so than angular, androgynous waifs. But potato-sack styles such as these completely distorted that reality, leaving a false impression in its stead.

* * *

Fortunately, plus-size fashion is increasingly coming around to the Elena Miro way of thinking. The goal now is to catch the eye, rather than to keep out of sight; the desire is to reveal one's shape, rather than to disguise it.

Here is a new test image of Wyinnetka (PB/Wilhelmina), who has now enhanced her figure to a goddesslike size 14/16--and looks gorgeous because of it.

A pear shape is the true womanly ideal, and when a dress fits such a shape closely, and lovingly, the result is an impression of sensual beauty.

Even a floor-length gown can adorn the beauty of a curvaceous figure, and reveal its attractive shape, if the fit is snug and correct--as Ashleigh Foster (PB/Ford, size 14) demonstrates in this editorial image:

When clothing embraces the body properly, the effect mimics the beauty of Classical sculpture, in which goddesses are presented in "wet draperly" that clings tightly to their every curve, lingering over its contours, as does the celebrated dress that Christina Schmidt wore to the Young Artist Awards:

And finally, here are several new, official Polaroid images of Kaiylee O'Sullivan (Ford, size 12--but at 5'6 , still curvaceous). When a goddess adopts a body-adorning, shape-adoring approach to fit, she allows the world to see just how gorgeous Classical curves can be, and just how much more attractive shapely plus-size proportions are over shapeless, flat-surfaced stick figures.

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