28 Feb Thinking out loud: Curves
In 2011, I contributed a written piece for Marie Claire South Africa’s November 2011 issue on the size zero phenomenon alongside some real writers. There was some confusion in my briefing, with wires being crossed and what not; and the initial archetypal body shape I wrote about was the Hottentot Venus. As I find myself connecting more with my body through doing physical activity the last sentence in this written text has never been more true.
“From the time Saartjie Baartman and her “protruding” buttocks left for England to be put on exhibition as an anthropological freak for curious folk in the western world to marvel and gawk at, the big butt has been a big deal. I mean Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian’s generous behinds basically shot to stardom before they both did and Beyonce invented a whole new word honouring the curvaceous or voluptuous derrière.
Historically characterised as an ethnic differentiator, the voluptuous tush of the Hottentot Venus, as Saartjie Baartman was known, marked the start of societies sordid and fetish like affair with this body archetype.
I say sordid because the protruding butt, derrière, tush, booty, buttocks, posterior; whatever you want to call it; with all its connotations was, and is still is the most denigrated and fantasised about in a fetish like manner, feature of a black woman’s body. Overly sexualised, European colonialist were perplexed, fascinated, and horrified by this different and ‘alien-like’ body shape.
In all its difference from the ‘norm’ via the 1800s as well as current fashion and celebrity culture, the Hottentot Venus archetype has finally been receiving some genuine love. One does have to wonder though why all these denim jean campaigns conceptualised based on the voluptuous body shape, Dove Campaigns aimed at loving any body size are only prevalent now when starlets like Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez, who are on the lighter side of the colour spectrum have been dubbed sexy for their curves?
Either way as a curvy lady, when I look at myself in front of my full-length bathroom mirror I see a wonderfully shaped hanger for amazing clothes to hang on.”