Ok, fatlogic people, let’s talk about Rubens. Peter Paul Rubens, specifically.
Those who support their god-given right to a miserable life and early death cite Rubens as “proof” that in the past Western society preferred fat women to those damn waifs.
Well, it depends on what past we’re talking about. And as usual, people writing about it utterly misunderstand the historical context.
First, before we get to that, it’s good to note that Rubens’ paintings were an historical outlier. His contemporaries did not paint such voluptuous models, and in fact in Western art models as large as those in Rubens’ depictions are and have always been an extreme outlier, all the way back to Etruscan and Greek art.
However Rubens’ choice of models was not about beauty or aesthetics, but rather his reaction to the tendency of other painters at that time to depict very thin or nearly-starving models to support the church’s view that privation and denying oneself earthly pleasures was virtuous.
Rubens’ painting were a rejection of this church doctrine and had nothing to do with the aesthetic preferences of anyone directly.
You can kind of see where not understanding historical and cultural context can get you. And that place would be called “Dumbassville.”
I think people should be as fat as they want to be. It doesn’t harm me at all. In fact, it might help as obese people tend to die quite a bit earlier thus reducing lifetime health costs. So thank you for that. My insurance premium thanks you as well.
But I hate disavowal of truth and those who just are stubbornly resistant to operating outside of their own cultural context.
Rubens is not some example of how in some delightful past fat women (or men) were upheld as paragons of beauty. With a few very rare historical exceptions, they just weren’t.
Rubens was making what today would be called a political point, or using painting as an editorial.
(By the way, the picture of Lorde has absolutely nothing to do with the post. I just like the hairstyle and photo. The milkmaid braid is great. She also looks like an alien this way, which I also appreciate. Aliens are cool. Lorde aliens are cooler.)