Art imitates life…

I took my daughter to the art gallery today – we went and saw the European Masters exhibition here in Melbourne.

Art Galleries make me happy – they feed my soul.. and part of the reason is because they give me some nice examples of beauty that doesn’t fit the modern ideal.

They remind me that once upon a time, my shapely arms, hips, belly and thighs were considered very beautiful indeed…that they way I look, was, in fact, the popular ideal.

I look at these paintings and I see me – or I see people I know. At the very least I see bodies that are like the bodies around me. I see the familiar. I also see how all these different shapes and sizes are beautiful..

Strange isn’t it – that in this day and age of photography and video that we struggle to find images we can similarly relate to in our popular media. The advent of the “size zero” ideal, along with the photoshop wizards have robbed us of a benchmark the majority of people can relate to.

In an age where we ought to be able to more accurately reflect “real” bodies.. we have all the tools to show EXACTLY what normal, regular, average people in all their glorious diversity look like right at our fingertips… instead, for some reason, what our magazines and billboards and catwalks show us is a hugely distorted view….

When we look backwards, to the age where they didn’t have photography, we see more realism shown through painter’s brushes than we do through our photographers’ lenses.

Strange, don’t you think?

Here’s some of the beautiful, beautiful fat people I was admiring today:

I don’t know about you, but just looking at these makes me feel more at peace with my own body.

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  • kathryn

    Was it a more realistic view back then or was it that the average person couldn't afford to eat well and therefore a plump body was an unobtainable ideal?

    I love the circus painting, it's particularly gorgeous.

  • private blogger

    This makes no sense. This is not modern art. Why would anyone try to actively live in the past, according to their norms? How do you know if these women were even healthy? Not to mention that these very overweight women are a lot thinner than many people who frequent this website. You are doing society a disservice bat y promoting images of fat people just as the fashion industry is by promoting skeletal models.

    To paraphrase the Buddha, moderation is the way to go. BMI of 19-24.9 (nearly a 50lb range).

  • Ankrhe

    Wow. This is awesome! All of those women are beautiful, and there's traits in them that I have. That's awesome! It does make me more at peace. Thank you.

  • Ankrhe

    I'd also like to add how much I love the poses. A lot of pictures have women looking bored, or firghtened, or vulnerable. In the first picture, she is totally at ease, the second, she is confident and fierce, and in the third…well, she's just happy to be there, and totally unabashed about her nudity.

  • Anonymous

    This is so gorgeous, and I so agree with you. Back in the days, painting people as real as possible was a quality, and the best thing an artist could ever achieve. Now, photographing people as fake as possible (as in, not looking like themselves) is what gets all the appraisal. I just won’t ever get it.

    If you’d love to look at more examples of fat women in the art world (from yesterday and contemporary), you should check out my tumblr: It was inspired by the book Zaftig: A Case of Curves, by Edward St Paige – extremely recommended. I’m always looking for these examples and always trying to post them there. The first two images you’ve shown here are new to me, and I’m really thankful you’ve shared them. If you don’t mind, I will share them too on that tumblr. With a link to this post, of course!

  • audreydc1983

    My favorite painting EVER is Peter Paul Rubens’ ‘Venus at a mirror’:
    It is unique in the fact that Venus is looking directly at the viewer. There were quite a few ‘Venus and Mirror’ works in that time, but Venus would be gazing in a different direction, often with an unfocused, day-dreamy expression on her face. This one is focused, direct: she looks at you, as if to say, “I know I’m beautiful, and you know it too. Bask in my loveliness.”
    She’s around my size and shape, and I found her directness to be fresh, invigorating, and sexy.
    I ♥love♥ art! :)

  • moonflower

    Being a teenager during this period of beanpole expectations, i always feel inundate. Are my hips bowing out too far; is my stomach considered too fatty, are my thighs to large… I constantly think about what is considered to be “beautiful”. I enjoy looking at art as well as producing it. What I’ve noticed is that I am always intrigued by fuller women. I always tend to draw more voluptuous women as well. Is this because I am a bigger woman? That may be so, however, I also believe that is part of my natural reaction to what should be noticed as healthy, beautiful, and normal. I wonder why most people do no feel the same…

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