Welcome to boobs and butts.
That’s what our sassy side calls this issue. Our classy side calls it Voluptuaries. But you get the idea. In this month of Eros and eros, we’re all about the body, particularly the voluptuous female body, which seems to be everywhere these days.
We’ve got the subject covered – or rather uncovered – in all sorts of delicious ways, from the insouciant curves of cover girl Dita Von Teese to the ravishing undulations of Asian Indian art and Judith Economos’ contemporary works to the creamy dunes of Marilyn Monroe and the other stellar blond bombshells to the saucy poses of the pinup and the shimmering exertions of burlesque, male and female.
Our doctors have weighed in on the role that nature and artifice play in the sexualized body. Our writers and columnists tell us how to shape and reshape it.
Yet for all of humanity’s celebration of the body, male and female, we’re not very kind to it. There’s an ambivalence toward the body that is particularly prevalent in the media, WAG included. We’re all about accepting our bodies and yet, we promote plastic surgery and exercises that give you a long, lean look. We admire shapeliness, but we extol thinness as well and let’s face it: Those two things don’t often go together. So there’s kind of a contradiction here.
It wasn’t always thus. Throughout art history, artists have portrayed humanity in all shapes, sizes and colors. Even some of the most ideal nudes – such as the Venus de Milo and the Apollo Belvedere – are not overly voluptuous and muscular respectively. Nor are they the taut bodies beloved by dancers and runners. They are rather shapely specimens of the human form.
It wasn’t until the so-called high arts became separate from popular culture, really with the rise of mass media in the early 20th century, that you began to see sylph-like women (and corresponding fashions) and increasingly muscular men. Today, of course, we’re all supposed to be thin, shapely and toned. But how realistic is this given disparate thin, muscular and curvy body types?
The signs do not seem encouraging, except that there are pockets of hope in some of the oddest places. Strangely enough, both Marilyn and burlesque – once symbols of the objectification of women – have been reclaimed by women, eager to take back the female body, in all its wondrous variety, for themselves. And young people are on occasion letting it all hang out, as WAG newcomer Grace Hammerstein discovered.
Grace has come to terms with her splendidly imperfect humanity – something I did, yet again, on my recent trip to Bali. My first response to all those rippling Hindu gods and goddesses, those glistening beachcombers and bathing beauties, was to head for my cover-ups and eyeliner. But by the second day, I had ditched much of my armor for a bathing suit and sarong and realized I have a pretty nice pear shape.
Perhaps the secret is to embrace what we have and make the most of it.