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The Existence and Appeal of the Curvy Woman

Once upon a time, curvy and fat women were seen as the pinnacle of human luxury. Their curves were a signifier of wealth and good food, and their bodies were decorated like art pieces in exquisite gowns and jewels. People wanted them and wanted to be them. People were envious of their bodies and what they meant.

Of course, now it’s not that way. We praise the slimness of a woman’s hips, the prominence of her collarbones, the delicate dip of her stomach. The ideal woman is slender, and the only acceptable curves are found on her chest (and occasionally her butt, if that’s what you’re into). There is nothing wrong with women looking like this if it’s the way they naturally grow, or if they can get themselves to this point in a healthy way. But any woman who does not adhere to these unspoken yet well-known proportions is devalued for her body, for the roundness of her arms, for the soft fat of her cheeks.

It doesn’t help that a woman’s body is seen as inherently dirty– it bleeds and expunges, has pink stretch marks from growing and changing, and is constantly too hairy or too dark or too round. No matter how clean, how thin, how white, how toned, it will always be seen as not enough– not enough of what, I don’t know, but everybody else seems to.

At the same time, a woman’s body is seen as too much in that it takes up too much space. If her hips are round, if her shoulders are broad, if her chest is heavy, her existence is too big and too present. People don’t like that. If a woman takes up too much space, her existence is defiant. Her body is a rebellion. Simply for existing in her skin, she is viewed as making a statement.

Some women take advantage of that and they encourage their body to be viewed as a statement. They take control of the narrative, and when they do, we’re blessed to see big girls in crop tops, in shorts, in strapless dresses, in things that refuse to hide their skin and their curves. They simply exist in these clothes that they like, that make them feel pretty or comfortable or confident, and everyone loses their absolute minds over it. It’s not the big/ fat/ thick/ curvy girls making it a rebellion– it’s everyone else who sees it as one, who thinks a woman wearing this clothing is polarizing and unnatural.

I’m caught somewhere between size L/XL and plus size, and I don’t mind that. I have more options that way, if you think about it. My hips and thighs jut out much more than a lot of women’s do, and oftentimes I do hate that part of me, and oftentimes other people do, too. But the incredible thing I’ve noticed is that while people hate it, they sometimes also love it. What I mean by this, for example, is that sometimes people (read: men) who give a girl shit for having thick thighs will turn around and comment on mine. It’s sexy; it’s hot; it’s a good place for them to hold onto. And so here is the issue: people find that curviness and that broadness attractive, but they don’t want to, because they’re supposed to think it’s unattractive and unnatural. But there is nothing unattractive about the way I look in leggings and a crop top.

Again, all it really comes down to taking up space. Big girls take up more space, and so their presence is loud and harder to ignore– harder to diminish– and we as a society don’t like that. We want a woman’s presence to be small, and so we want her body to be small, too, so she’s easier to intimidate and ignore. To reiterate, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with small/ skinny/ thin women. But they are not the only women out there, and they are not the only beautiful ones.

Elsa is a sophomore at University of Houston, majoring in English. When she's not looking at pictures of dogs, she's napping. She hopes to one day be a novelist or work in publishing.
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