Monthly Archives: November 2012

Rubenesque


Rubenesque adj. (of a woman’s figure) full and rounded

 

Rubens,_Peter_Paul_-_The_Three_Graces

I have been listening to a lot of Prince and Queen lately – mostly because my 16 month old son really gets into those particular artists. He loves Killer Queen and Raspberry Beret especially and bops around to Fat Bottomed Girls as well . I feel like I am schooling him in a new form of radical feminism when we listen to these songs. They embody a sense of admiration for the full figured female we seem to have lost in this day and age. Here’s what I mean…

In Raspberry Beret, Prince notes:

Built like she was
She had the nerve to ask me
If I planned to do her any harm.

Since Prince is a pretty small dude one would have to assume that the beret wearing girl could hold her own because she was larger – but it’s not a bad thing in the song. It makes her memorable and attractive. In fact, she seems quite proud as he describes her as not wearing much else than the beret.  In Get Off, he also mentions explicitly:

Honey, them hips is gone
That’s alright, I clock ’em that way
Remind me of something James used to say
“I like ’em fat”, “I like ’em proud”
“Ya gotta have a mother for me”
Now move your big ass ’round this way
So I can work on that zipper, baby

I would bet there are other references to his preference for larger women in his music, but what I find really interesting is that even a few decades ago, there was a certain appreciation for the voluptuous, womanly body. Whether it be Sir Mix A Lot or Prince, models still had asses and boobs and I am pretty sure no one was trying to lose all of their muscle mass to be attractive. What happened between then and now to so drastically change our preferences when it comes to the female form?

I think about body image a lot. The smallest I have ever been was a size 4 and that was when I was in college. It was a lot of fun. I could walk into any clothing store and fit into anything I wanted. I had no breasts so the shirts buttoned perfectly. Low rise denim sat on bone, not muffin top. Being able to wear whatever I chose made me forget that I was absolutely starving all of the time. Now as I write this in the bootylicious leggings of a size 10/12 (gasp!) shopping is more akin to getting a pap smear than having fun. The fashion world has banned me from being able to look attractive easily. At 5’2 , I am petite, but with an ass and boobs, I am full figured. Anyway you slice it up, I am fat by the standards of the fashion and clothing industry and deemed unattractive by the anorexic minions of Madison Avenue.

Every time I see the standards for womanly attractiveness shrink, I pray that this time they have gone too far and that next year the new “it” size will go up instead of down. I fear that when I am hitting 40 the new goal will be to fit into 2T pants. How I long for the days of Rubens and Botticelli whose lovely ladies flaunted flesh. I think there is a definite connection between Modern Art and the cultism of waifishness that is prevalent amongst women. In the same ways that traditional, beautiful, skillful art is rejected these days, so is the traditional female body. Much of a woman’s free time is spent plucking, waxing and toning so as not to be regarded as some barbaric, poorly groomed gorilla in public. It’s as if we’re supposed to stay 14 forever.

…and the music about Fat Bottomed Girls and Raspberry Berets has faded away as well. Prince has been replaced with Justin Beiber and One Direction singing about hair flipping insecure 12 year olds in between rapid successions of “ohs” and “ahs” instead of actual lyrics. Even Jennifer Hudson lost her booty and Anne Hathaway looks like she’s dying. Good god, even the Twinkie is a thing of the past.  Alas, I lament the loss of substance in all of it’s historical forms – art, music and womanly flesh…bye, bye Miss American Thigh…

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nostalgia


nostalgia n. a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.

I think that I have Nostalgic Personality Disorder. I have a profoundly difficult time living in the moment. In fact, most of the time I rarely enjoy the present. Take for instance all of my past homes. When I was living in Providence, Rhode Island, all I wanted to do was move somewhere else. These days I would give anything to spend a few months back in my old home. Same thing with Brooklyn. I had just about had enough of pretending to be cool in the “other borough” when I was pregnant, and so we moved to Maplewood, New Jersey. Now I simply hate my new home and long to wander the littered, Brownstone streets of my former abode.

My nostalgia isn’t even accurate. I think about past periods of time quite a bit and my memory embellishes them, making them sweeter than they actually were. I know I didn’t love high school and those were some tough years, but I often find myself longing to go back for a few days. I’d like to think it may be because I have changed, or evolved, so very much since then that I would like to go back and remind myself who I was at that point. I’d like to get some of my old, good habits back…talk to myself and get some advice from the person who I used to be. I think it would be good to go back so I could prove to myself that my memories aren’t honest and that things have gotten exponentially better in my life since then…that I have accomplished things and grown. My former self could sit me down and say “Listen asshole! You’ve done so much since now. Why would you want to return like some psychotic ‘Back to the Future’ wannabe?”

I recently read an article in Psychology Today about nostalgic personalities. I am surprised I was even able to get past the first few lines as it began with a reference to Proust and his “buttery madeleines.” Suffering through Swann’s Way was not my finest hour in college. It was a very painful read…but I digress. Here is a link to the article if you are interested…and this quote which made me take particular note:

“For some people, reminiscing about good times can trigger painful emotions. Recalling a career triumph can make you feel like a has-been, and thinking back to cozy weekends with grandma might be a poignant reminder that she’s gone.

But it needn’t be that way. “It’s what you focus on,” says Lyubomirsky. “Do you focus on how positive it was then, or that it’s over now?” People who see each good experience as permanently enriching are more likely to get a mood boost. But a person who mainly focuses on the contrast between past and present damns every good experience with the attitude that nothing in the future can ever live up to it.”

http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200605/nostalgia-sweet-remembrance

And just like that EUREKA. I do this everyday, thus damning my present state of being. Now the advice that this article doled out was to make a “Greatest Hits” of your past list…but I think the more useful thing for me would be to make a Greatest Hits of TODAY list – since that is what I tend to take for granted the most. Perhaps I can trick my nostalgic mind or at least shorten the time period for which I long. Today’s list would look like this so far:

  1. Drank 3 cups of wonderful coffee.
  2. Rocky Raccoon by the Beatles randomly came on my iPod while driving.
  3. Graham looked particularly dashing in his new cable – knit old man/baby cardigan.
  4. I’ve managed to get off my ass and write something this morning.

…and so on. So perhaps tomorrow I will be nostalgic for today – but since it was only yesterday all of those greatest hits will be easily achievable again thus tricking myself into loving my present state.

OR – I could make the Ungreatest Hits of my past so I remember the truth about the things which I remember as so awesome. This might also be a fantastic, yet painful exercise. If I choose to write this particular list I won’t make it a list at all. I will write in the style of Marcel Proust – agonizing over every second in detail so that I will never forget the tragedy and can convert my false nostalgia into the truth about my past. Instead of an agonizing 20 pages of rolling over in bed or the taste of little French crumbly cookies, I can describe the time I went on a job interview in Coventry, Rhode Island which turned out to be a clandestine door to door salesman job. After I told my pimply faced escort I wasn’t interested and that I had been lied to, he left me in the middle of the 30 degree New England woods – no car, no phone, no cash – and I walked around crying and knocking on doors until a lovely family took pity on me and drove me back to my Geo Tracker – whose lights had been left on and whose battery was dead.

Sure – I laugh now and there are some bright spots to this story – but in reminding myself of this tarnished moment of my past I can see clearly how much better things are here in my sleepy, privileged suburban mommy life.

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