Friday, April 27, 2012

V is for Voluptuous

From Merrium-Webster:
  1. a : full of delight or pleasure to the senses : conducive to or arising from sensuous or sensual gratification : luxurious <a voluptuous dance> <voluptuous ornamentation> <a voluptuous wine> b : suggesting sensual pleasure by fullness and beauty of form <voluptuous nudes> 
  2. : given to or spent in enjoyment of luxury, pleasure, or sensual gratifications <a long and voluptuous holiday — Edmund Wilson
So... I wonder... when did this delightful word come to mean "fat"? I am voluptuous and curvy and rubenesque. Some might even consider me fat. But, I like my body... overall. Sure, I want to be more fit because I enjoy feeling strong and active... but I don't ever want to lose my curves. I was once told that what is fabulous to touch isn't necessarily great to look at. Fortunately, it wasn't directed at me but it made me think. This society is so entirely consumed with being thin that it often frightens me. I have a friend who literally refuses to stop smoking because they are afraid of gaining weight?!? Seriously?!?! Lung cancer and laryngeal cancer (which is probably one of the most horrifying things I've ever heard of) are worth the risk to gaining a little weight? I find that horridly sad. I read a fantastic book called Wasted by Mayra Hornbacher about a woman's struggle with anorexia and bulimia. At one point she weighed 86 pounds at an average height for women and she was constantly told how great she looked. What the hell?? I find it frightening how unacceptable it is in our society to be overweight but how extreme thinness is looked at as a great accomplishment. Apparently starvation is the ultimate in self-control. 

I have struggled with my weight since I was about 6, for various reasons. Losing weight was hard. I enjoy being the weight that I am now. I'd like to lose another 20 pounds but if it doesn't happen, I'm okay with that. There is a fantastic part in Eve Ensler's The Good Body where she describes a trip to Africa. Please pardon the butchering but in a nutshell: Ms. Ensler is talking to an African and she asks her whether she loves her body and the woman replies to the effect of "I love my body. Look at my arms, they are strong and can carry many things. My legs... oh my legs! They can carry me to great places... so strong" and so on. She then asks Ensler if she loves her body and Ensler replies that she doesn't; that she doesn't know how. The woman then says, "Eve, look at that tree... do you love that tree?" Eve says, "of course, it's a beautiful tree." And the woman say, "what about that tree? Do you love it?" and Even says, "of course." The woman then says, "but they are different... how can you love each tree?" Insight dawns and the woman says, "Love your tree, Eve." I'd also watched a fantastic documentary called America the Beautiful (you can get it on Netflix) and they focus on loving your body as function. It's a beautiful and insightful documentary. I would highly, highly recommend it. 

There is a beautiful blog that is written by a woman that I've come to love (her writing at any rate). I've included a link because she says it better than I. 

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