Weighing in on Size

January 14, 2015

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What hits your eye as soon as you enter Manhattan’s Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle? For me, it’s the enormous bronze sculptures of Adam and Eve by famed South American artist, Fernando Botero.

As one gazes at the voluptuous form of Eve, in all her glory, does one think, “There’s a plus-size!” No! One simply accepts that this is – yet another – exciting and acceptable version of the female form. So why can’t we do this in real life?

Statue of Eve by Fernando Botero, Time Warner Center, Columbus Circle, Manhattan

THE TURNING POINT from a normal, healthy weight to an emphasis on slimness came at the beginning of the 20th century. Before this, a well-built figure was a sign of wealth and ample food provisions, while thinness meant poverty or lack of food. Curvy or hourglass figures were achieved with corsets and crinolines.

Three Graces by Raphael, 1505

THE ROARING TWENTIES and the era of the flapper meant America was moving further away from the celebrated female figure painted by Peter Paul Rubens in the 17th century. Now we had cropped hair, shorter hemlines and boy-like figures as the waist disappeared with loose-fitting garments.

The flapper in the Roaring Twenties

NOW IT’S MANY YEARS later and our obsession with thinness has reached an all-time high. Let’s take a look at a number of factors.

First: The corpulent female figure is now considered a lower class problem in the U.S. As education and income go up one is expected to maintain a slender frame. But there’s a double standard here because men are given much more latitude where weight is concerned – no matter how high they go on the economic and social ladder.

This is particularly obvious in the business world where a male CEO is not questioned if he’s on the heavy side. But all top-ranking female executives know they must adhere to the “thin is in” rule.

Second: There is a huge disconnect between what one sees in the fashion world and the average American female. Numbers don’t lie, take a look:

  • Runway models are size 0 to 2
  • Regular models are size 6 to 8
  • Plus-size models are size 10 to 12
  • The average American woman is size 14 to 16

No wonder grown females and teen-age girls are constantly at odds with their appearance.

WHERE ARE WE TODAY? Calvin Klein Inc. made a big stir in 2014 when it reported that it’s featuring the model, Myla Dalbesio, size 10, in a 2015 campaign. “Body diversity doesn’t mean size 2 and then a jump to 16 – there’s a middle ground,” she says. Wisely, the company does not use “plus-size” when describing Dalbesio.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT Here’s a link to the story behind Dove soap’s campaign for Real Beauty, a marketing effort launched in 2004 that features women in a range of sizes. http://www.dove.us/Social-Mission/campaign-for-real-beauty.aspx

MAY WE SUGGEST…

Adea believes that women of all shapes and sizes can feel comfortable and look sophisticated in their underlayers. Offerings include a wide selection of colors in addition to regular-and-plus sizes.

- Shaun



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