Tag Archives: body

PHOTO GALLERY: History of the female body through art, fashion and life

The Venus of Willendorf is a 4.3-inch high statuette of a female figure estimated to have been made between 24,000 and 22,000 BCE. With a bountiful breasts and a large stomach, the figure is meant to show fertility. Her head is covered by a headdress or traditional hair style.

The ancestry of the female nude is distinct from the male, an fantastic article from the Met said. Where the latter originates in the perfect human athlete, the former embodies the divinity of procreation. Naked female figures are shown in very early prehistoric art, and in historical times, similar images represent such fertility deities as the Near Eastern Ishtar. The Greek goddess Aphrodite belongs to this family, and she too was imagined as life-giving, proud, and seductive. For many centuries, the Greeks preferred to see her clothed, unlike her Near Eastern counterparts, but in the mid-fourth century B.C., the sculptor Praxiteles made a naked Aphrodite, called the Knidian, which established a new tradition for the female nude. Lacking the bulbous and exaggerated forms of Near Eastern fertility figures, the Knidian Aphrodite, like Greek male athletic statues, had idealized proportions based on mathematical ratios. In addition, her pose, with head turned to the side and one hand covering the body, seemed to present the goddess surprised in her bath and thus fleshed the nude with narrative and erotic possibilities. The position of the goddess’ hands may be meant to show modesty or desire to shield the viewer from too full a view of her godhead. Although the Knidian statue is not preserved, its impact survives in the numerous replicas and variants of it commissioned in the Hellenistic and Roman eras. Such images of Venus, the Latin name of Aphrodite, adorned houses, bath buildings, and tombs as well as temples and outdoor sanctuaries.

The Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife, dated 1434 by the Early Netherlandish painter Jan van Eyck,  It is considered one of the more original and complex paintings in Western art because of the iconography. One of the icons is the way she is dressed. She is not actually pregnant, but the clothing of the time and art was made to make women appear more fertile and robust.

The Birth of Venus is a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli. Botticelli was commissioned to paint the work by the Medici family of Florence. Venus is characterized by her slim figure and perfect “s-curve” stature which showed correct muscle contrapposto. In contrast, the women next to her was robust and possibly pregnant-looking.

Sir Peter Paul Rubens was a prolific artist. His commissioned works were mostly religious subjects, “history” paintings, which included mythological subjects, and hunt scenes. But unlike what the Greek and Roman athletic depictions might be, Rubens  painted The Three Graces, 1635, in his larger than life style. This is where the term “rubenesque” figures comes from.

An Etsy user is selling a full length cabinet photograph portrait of a Victorian era woman standing rather incongruously next to a fake boulder with a woodland background. The lady is wearing a typical dark dress ensemble from the 1880’s: corseted jacket with brooch at the throat, pleated underskirt and probably a modified bustle. The corset is only a hint at what the expectations of the female body were at the time.

Dropped waists and baggy clothing were meant to hang on the 1920s flapper like clothing on a hanger.

A stark contrast from the 1920s, a more voluptuous figure emerged. But their waists were still meant to me smaller. In some models, waist training was used to synch the waist to unnatural levels. The hips and the bust still remained full.

A resurgence of the 1920s was made when model Twiggy came on the scene. Since then, models have upheld the skinny expectation.

Like Twiggy, models like Kate Moss continue to posses the “heroin-chic” ideal. Although Moss is only 5’7, other industry models are much taller at the same weight. In essence, they are walking clothes hangers.

Companies like H&M, who have recently recruited Beyonce as a model, are starting to make larger clothing and even larger mannequins. But despite the plus size revolution, the industry standard hasn’t changed.

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“Fat Barbie” making reappearance on Pinterest

It’s been 15 years since the rubenesque Ruby made her debut in The Body Shop’s ad campaign directed at teaching women to appreciate their bodies.

Since then rumors have swirled about how Barbie toy maker Matel sent a cease and desist letter to TBS, claiming that Ruby’s plastic body offended Barbie and threatened her sales. Whether or not Matel took TBS to court or even sent the letter has not been investigated into thoroughly.tumblr_m1xo43UZ5l1r7xas6o1_500

However, the image of Ruby has been circulating around Pinterest as of late.

The battle of the bods isn’t a recent phenomenon. It seems that the ideal shape for a woman has fluctuated since the beginning of time.

From the constraining Victorian corset to the skeletal posture of model “Twiggy,” the pressures to fit a mold have always been present. But as we all know, women come in many shapes and sizes.

So where do these pressures come from? A male dominated society that is teaching women they need to be something they aren’t in order to sell products to women they don’t need?

Or is there a legitimate health concern on the horizon- a rising rate of obesity?

I embrace women of every size, but even to me, Ruby seems to be labeled obese, unhealthy.

However, the idea to teach women to be self confident trumps all. In order to be healthy, one must be mentally sound. If she is happy with more meat, then I am happy for her.

What do you think? Are campaign ads like TBS teaching women it’s OK to have unhealthy habits, or is it teaching women self confidence?

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Actresses with fit bodies

I was watching an old Sheryl Crow music video and it reminded my of how fit she is! Her arms are perfectly toned. So it gave me the idea to list my top fit actresses. Of course if we all had an endless supply of money, we could afford the best foods and trainers too. But it’s still nice to admire once in awhile. By making this list, I am not endorsing that one type of body is beautiful. You can be fit and curvy. But it is Hollywood and there are more slender figures available.

Here we go! In no order:

1. Sheryl Crow

 

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2. Jennifer Aniston

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3.  Kate Hudson

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4. Evangeline Lily

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5. Zoe Saldana

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6. Halle Berry

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7.  Nicole Kidman

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8. Demi Moore

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9. Cameron Diaz

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10. Eliza Dushku

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