Ha. Got your attention, did I not? Yeah, topic of the night...the female body. So, gentlemen, pull a seat up, you my want a front row for this one. As an artist and aspiring art historian, I have had the privilege to gaze upon the evolution of the artistically rendered female body. In what regards? Oh, many of mediums - painting, drawing, video, sculpture, only to name a few. Note: this is solely on the image of the female body, nothing to do with style or periods. Generalization...
The female body is a work of art. You may say that it is a perfectly shaped utopian paradise. Oh wait. Not all women are shaped like a Victoria Secret model. However, Western civilization has built an image that cannot be matched under normal circumstances. I'm talking about the female body is the natural terminology. Whether you are pear-shaped, twig shaped, or just shaped...your body is your body, no matter what. Let's take a look at one of the oldest artistic renderings of the female body...there she is! The Venus of Willendorf. What a zesty figure she has. Culturally speaking, she is an item of beauty, an image of fertility and womanhood. I can hear the lyrics of Madagascar's Moto Moto echoing through the background, "I like 'em big, I like 'em chunky, and they like me, they think I'm funky." Men, how can you not have the hots for her? Oh, wait, that's right, Western civilization.
Artists have their preferences when it comes to women. Welcome Aphrodite! Goddess of love and beauty! Botticelli's rendering of the female form is fascinatingly weighty. In layman's terms, she may be a bit more beefy. Her waist is surprisingly not the size of her head, and her thighs are not the size of carrots. This beautiful rendering during the Renaissance, showed the female figure more realistic to the female physique than our Western culture tends to show. Aphrodite is by no means "fat", she shows us a more human side. Isn't is beautiful? Modesty was not shunned upon amidst clams and floating admirers. How delightful to be a goddess. *sigh*
Any one up for a Reuben? Ah, just joshing, I'm speaking of the one and only Peter Paul Rubens. The man of the hour who liked his women with a bit more skin and some cellulite. Three women with large hips to hold on to, and enough legs to go around! (No pun intended) Praise the men who see the "flaws" beautiful. These artists, although somewhat intrigued by the men physique as well, painted what they saw, the real human flesh of women who aren't bone thin or perfectly proportioned. Many men would shake their heads in dismissal of the accusations, but you and I, know very well the unfortunate circumstance that creates the gawking stares and salivating tongue dripping from manipulation when men pass a Victoria Secret ad, or watch a tampered sex scene.
Holy crap! Is that an apple under her arm? Oh wait, no, it's a boob. That's right, the Odalisque. The beautifully elongated body of a female. I laugh, because if she were to stand up, she would look like Olive Oyl from Popeye. And, obviously, Ingres really wanted to paint the breast. If mine were as perky, I'm sure I would appreciate some exposure...just not under my armpit. Unfortunately, this rendering doesn't necessarily prove a point as it does amuse me. Her somewhat seductive stare, the elongation of the spine, the large space of the ass, and the awkward positioning of the legs. By the way, the left is on top of the right. She is telling my gentlemen audience that she is flexible...(I'm alluding to the modern day photoshoped model). *eye roll*
You may be thinking...ok, yes, let's get to your point. Well, here it is, HOLY CRAP! Where did her leg go? It's NOT there. As a designer myself, this is a terrible job. Everything else may be airbrushed, squeezed, and removed in all the other right places, but that leg, shows are growing need to "fix" people! That's right, the terribly sad conclusion I make about our society is this: you have to be skinny, flawless, and with shadows and highlights always reflecting the best areas of your body as you walk around, in order to be "seen". Hey! Not ALL of us are able to work out, tan, or afford plastic surgery. Society tells us that, no matter what you look like, your are NEVER good enough. This is why they Photoshop. Even the most "perfect" individuals need help. It's the lighting, it's the make-up artists, it's the work-out coaches, the the constant strain to make your body the opposite of the Venus of Willendorf, because that's what our society deems men (or women) want. And this is by NO means a hit on everyone, not every one has those beliefs.
Say what you will, there are multiples who believe this is what EVERYONE wants. Well, I demand a redesign! I demand a fair shot if I have to be a citizen of this county. I'm petite. And the only thing I was blessed with is a larger than normal pair of...well, you get the picture. Or not. Because I'm not posting a picture of that. And I won't even start on the difference in hairstyles and make-up! That is for another day. Curly rules! *cough*
Even discreetly, people know if you are self-conscious. The more you try to talk about your looks, your "perfections", and your "assets" , the more people will catch on to your need for attention, and lack of self-esteem. You know that Barbie couldn't even hold her proportions against the natural female body? She got a makeover, and she's not complaining.
Anyway, I just wanted to share a topic completely in left field. I'm in the midst of applying for my Art History PhD and was thinking about the nude form in comparison to the modern "ideal" of the female body. There are so many more factors that can go into this argument, I just chose to express a couple vaguely.
Dream of happiness, dream of rain, but never again dream of pain.