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Big Girls in Art | Manolo for the Big Girl

Big Girls in Art

We haven’t done this for a while!

Francesca last promised you a Sculpture Series, so here we go.

We will start with the oldest known carving of a human figure in Europe (possibly in the world), the Venus of Hohle Fels, which was discovered in a German cave just a year ago and is thought to be 35-40 thousand years old, about 15 thousand years older than the Venus of Willendorf.

Venus Germany

The article about this archeological discovery was sent to Francesca by our internet friend JJ, who wrote:

This is the oldest known carved human figure in Europe and it’s a fattie without a head, so that’s not a phenomenon of modern media.

(The little nub in place of a head is a ring, which leads scientists to believe the artifact was hung like a pendant.)

Francesca will leave it to others to parse out the meaning of the headlessness, the oversized genitalia, etc. Francesca simply marvels at the idea that, here, femininity is represented by exaggerated fatness.

7 Responses to “Big Girls in Art”

  1. Tara October 15, 2009 at 2:03 pm #

    I was an anthropology major and had to study these…It’s thought that these figures were fertility goddesses and that’s the reasoning behind the large female parts. It’s also interesting to note that having some meat on your bones used to be considered a sign of wealth and prosperity. Or going back further that you were a good hunter, or farmer or gatherer. It was a good thing to be large. It seems like the opposite is true now…it’s a sign of wealth if you are stick thin and never eat.

  2. JennyKnopinski October 15, 2009 at 3:12 pm #

    I think it looks like a bosomy roasted chicken.

  3. jojokaffe October 15, 2009 at 5:31 pm #

    It could also be the prehistoric version of a personal ad, ‘I’m looking for a girl like this. Head optional’. Or, ‘I’m looking for a chicken like this. Head optional.’

  4. dcsurfergirl October 15, 2009 at 10:05 pm #

    Wow! Back in the day, plus-sized girls were fabulous!

  5. class factotum October 16, 2009 at 10:50 am #

    It’s also interesting to note that having some meat on your bones used to be considered a sign of wealth and prosperity

    It still is in some places. I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Chile, where I worked with a group of indigenous women. They were poor — subsistence farmers — and to them, being thin was a sign of sickness. I never heard any of them comment negatively on her own or someone else’s stoutness; instead, they wanted to know why American women were so obsessed with thinness.

  6. chachaheels October 17, 2009 at 7:21 am #

    Maybe it’s not correct to say femininity was represented by fatness so much as the fact that femininity was represented by fertility–which could not (and still can not) be had without fat. I think this little idol is like all the other goddess figurines which were carved for millions of years (and have been discovered all over the world)–it’s all about the ability to create life, fecundity, femaleness.

    I also think this one is meant to be worn around the neck as a means of giving the wearer the power it symbolizes. The wearer’s head then “became” part of the figurine, and “took on” the fertility the figurine represents.

  7. Margo October 17, 2009 at 8:01 am #

    Like Tara and class factotum point out, the associations of wealth/health and body shape aren’t ‘natural’ but are socially-dependent and shifting. See also, tanned skin – famously, Coco *pfffft* Chanel made it fashionable and desirable.

    A good thing to keep in mind when you run up against the ‘but fat is unattractive, that is just a fact’ arguments. Right before you wallop the commentator with a stick.