zaftig

In Praise of Meaty Women

I, Laurie Kendrick, am pissed off.

You see, I have grown very tired of the concept of being “ridiculously thin to be considered in”.

I have had my fill with the men who will only pursue this anatomical ideal that Hollywood and Glamor, Cosmo and Maxim and Playboy have forced fed us. In fact, I’ve had my fill of women who are so shallow as to think being bone thin is the only way to be and are literally killing themselves in an attempt to stay skinny to keep their men and society happy.

Fuck that noise.

I feel this way legitimately. It’s not stemming from an attempt to justify the fact that I am not a particularly thin woman. It is true, I have lost a considerable amount of weight in recent months and while I’d be considered a great piece of ass in at least 21 countries, I’m still not Cosmo worthy. I am a woman of who could be described as “upholstered”…to a degree. No sinewy musculature pokes out anywhere and no part of my skeletal system protrudes; it remains completely obscured.

Except for my wonderfully chiseled cheekbones.

But even with pounds lost, I’d still be considered chubby by many, but here’s your reality check, Society–I’M YOUR AVERAGE WOMAN!!!!!! I’m the norm. More North American women look just like me.

Meet the face, ass and gut of average America.

It’s rounded. It protrudes. It hangs over waistbands like a bran muffin top.

It jiggles and often moves of it’s own accord.

It is the stuff of which real women are made.

But none of that matters. Thin women are the ones who idealized. Men will look twice at a thin women–it doesn’t matter if her face looks like it was set ablaze, then extinguished with 30-rounds from an M-16. It’s about the damned body!

Yep–men will ogle and admire thin women; then, they’ll shake their heads while making that “eye squinting, lip pursing face” while inhaling loudly—as if they’ve just been served a perfect prime rib, yet invariably, they’ll go home to wives and girlfriends who are struggling to squeeze their ever expanding frames into their size 16 jersey knit stretch pants.

It used to be so different.

How did this happen? When did this happen?

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Back 300-400 years or so, heavier women were the preferred stock. Men loved women who were heavier. Socially, it was all the rage because being zaftig was a sign of wealth; there was a correlation between adipose women and a family who was loaded. Obviously, it meant you had enough money to buy enough food to eat.

And furthermore, large woman, large dowry.

In fact, the famed counter-reformation artist, Peter Paul Ruben painted a number of portraits of women…all of them heavy. It was a combination of his style and the common girth of his subjects that became an adjective to describe larger women….Rubenesque.

We still use that term today.

His appreciation of the much fuller female form is evidenced in this lovely piece, “Venus At A Mirror”, painted sometime around the year 1615.

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Corporally, this is a woman of substance. Not thin by any means, but certainly not obese. There is a big difference between the women in this portrait…

And this woman:

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Some of you might laugh and guffaw at this woman. Sadly, that’s also part of a conditioned response. Our first impression of her would be reflective of societal norms. Initially, we’d probably think that she’s lazy and worthless and from a certain socio-economic level that deems Little Debbie Snack Cakes with green sprinkles to be a vegetable. We would be repulsed at first glance and God forbid we’d stop for a second to think about what physical maladies might be plaguing her; what serious psychological issues are at play here.

No, none of that matters–she’s just a big, fat, ugly, reprehensibly lazy slob and that’s that.

Yet, I ask you– is the photo above any more disturbing than one from the opposite end of the spectrum??

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Both are horribly tragic.

Eating disorders are surging these days. We overeat, binge eat; we’re bulimics–we have our cake and heave it, too and we’re anorexics.

A countless number of women are afflicted with body-dysmorphic disorder. In short, it effects perception. What a dysmorphic sees when she looks at her body and what her body really looks like are two completely different things. She sees what her illness makes her see and her reflection in the mirror becomes the enemy.

This photo exemplifies that perfectly.

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It says it all, in fact.

This is real, my friends and this isn’t a gross exaggeration. This is reality for a person suffering with body dysmorphic disorder. What you’re seeing is, in effect, what the dysmorphic sees. Distorted beyond belief.

Tragically, people are dying from the diseases associated with this…yes, men too, though the numbers are disproportionately female.

But statistics regarding increasing fatalities among binge eaters, anorexics and bulimics be damned—thin is the goal. Images like this are ubiquitous.

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And wanna know what’s so damn ridiculous about this image?

If she were eight years younger, black and living in Biafra, the BBC would feature her in a documentary. A United Nations Humanitarian Aid box would soon arrive near her village via air drop and a day or two later, we’d see her fly-ridden face staring blankly at the camera while slowly teething this over-sized Pop Tart looking cracker thing.

Sir Bob Geldoff would eventually see the documentary and be moved to write a special Christmas song about it. He’d gather a few of his fellow British warblers together to sing it while being filmed–a video would be produced and long story short, a billion British pounds would be raised for famine relief.

More of them big, Pop Tart looking crackers for everyone……

But nooooooooooooo!!!!!!

In this case, in a world of “acceptable starvation”, a photography crew snaps a few shots of Skeletina, the newest Supermodel from Latvia on some runway in Milan and a million magazines get sold.

What’s wrong with this picture, people? I ask this literally–WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?????

The insanity makes me crazy.

Personally, I like a beefier built guy, but if forced to decide between a hefty guy and John Goodman at his heaviest, I’ll go for the thinner of the two. So, does that me any less guilty?

No.

But I’m making a concerted effort to see beyond beauty being skin deep and fat being deep skin. Maybe it’s because there have been times in my life when I’ve been heavier. I know what it’s like to be looked over, then promptly overlooked. Socially, my weight issues meant the world was fixated on what I was eating…not what was eating me.

Before I die, there are several things I want to accomplish. Chief among them: I want to make a difference with regard to the early detection of breast cancer in socio-economically challenged women AND I want to do something about eating disorders and the psycho-social reasons why they exist.

There’s a mental and emotional bridge that needs to be gapped here. I intend to find it.

I’m sick of this. Sick of all of it.

We push ourselves, deny ourselves, starve ourselves and for what??? Will life in a size 4 body really be that different? How happy can our external world EVER be if our internal one thrives in chaos? Can we ever look that good if we feel that miserable?

Make no mistake: turmoil ALWAYS trickles from the inside out.

But for some for some ridiculously skewed reason, if the outside looks good, harmful internal conflicts be damned.

If we’re thin, that makes it all OK.

.

.

No, that just makes it more dangerous.

And as a weight obsessed society, we’re too fat-headed to grasp it.