Fat Bottomed Girls and the Erosion of Female Self Worth

Do you ever find yourself apologising for your size? It is a sad fact of life that many women do these days. We’ve become indoctrinated into thinking that big is bad and thin is beautiful, and that the emaciated waifs we see in the media have the perfect must have figure.

Yet, history shows it’s actually big women that men find most attractive. The works of Renaissance masters like Botticelli and Rubens show that even the Medieval female was the object of immense fascination and scrutiny. Yet, the women immortalised on these ancient canvases little resemble the super slim celebrities of the modern age. Rather, Renaissance women are often depicted as gloriously full figured, with full bosoms, ample tummies and large bottoms.

Yet, they were still celebrated as objects of beauty…

Centuries later, American WWII bomber crews painted beautiful, plus sized “blonde bombshells” on their aeroplanes for good luck, and during the great Hollywood era, film studios snapped up busty actresses like Mae West and Jayne Mansfield, more for their buxom features than their acting abilities. The celebrated “hourglass” figures captured on these celluloid archives continue to fascinate men to this day.

Decades after her untimely death, buxom beauty Marilyn Monroe, a definite plus size by today’s skinny standards, can still hold her own even against the sultriest modern pinups; and who can forget Britain’s very own blonde bombshell, the late, and gloriously plus sized, Diana Dors, still oozing sex appeal at age 49, in Adam Ant’s “Prince Charming” video?

At a time when the term “plus size” had yet to achieve common usage, Dors famously likened herself to a naughty seaside postcard, and shamelessly sold herself as “the first home-grown sex symbol…since Lady Godiva.” Loved in Britain for her larger-than-life off screen personality, Dors’ considerable acting skills all too often played second fiddle to her ample figure, as directors cast her again and again in the role of curvaceous siren.

As frustrating as this certainly was for talented actresses like Dors, they nonetheless made the most of their ample curves to forge highly successful careers and maintain massive male fan bases. It is curious also to note that Dors, Monroe and West are all immortalised on the front cover of the Beatles’ iconic album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

These women shot to stardom because the film industry and other mass media were dominated by men. At a time when Feminism was still in its infancy, it was men who dictated acceptable standards of attractiveness. Busty, curvaceous women were preferred over skinny woman because this played to the male fantasy of the perfect “hourglass” woman.

In contrast, modern celebrity women increasingly draw their self image from the plethora of glossy magazines published by women. Such magazines, full of air-brushed beauties and fascinating yet often misguided articles, play a significant role in our daily lives and have a powerful, sometimes negative impact on the way we see ourselves.

In recent decades, the dictates of such media have reshaped our perception of acceptable standards of attractiveness, fashion and size. Thin is good, fat is bad, and women the world over now live in constant fear of gaining weight. Authorities believe this has played a significant contributory role in the gradual erosion of female self worth.

Where women like Diana Dors were once coveted by a male mass media, they are now increasing the targets of ruthless criticism and ridicule. Where magazines once assisted women in their lives by offering practical solutions to everyday problems, today many serve to complicate life. “How much should I weigh?” “How young should I look?” “What diet should I be on?” are just some of the questions modern women are confronted with everyday by a celebrity-driven mass media obsessed with perfection. Indeed, recent research suggests that women today are more concerned about putting on weight than they are about developing breast cancer!

Each week, myriad magazines churn out the latest miracle diets and the latest, often medically unsound advice on how to lose pounds and get ourselves in shape. The trouble is, most of these glossy gospels frequently contradict themselves and each other over what that shape is supposed to be. As a result, confusion reigns in the modern woman’s mind.

Eating disorders, self harming and plummeting self esteem plague women today as never before. Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and addiction to botox treatments and plastic surgery are likewise on the increase. And few can now doubt the contribution that the mass media has played, and still plays, in the development of these hitherto uncommon psychological occurrences.

Medical authorities are today rightly concerned about the power these magazines have over our daily lives. After all, on what authority do the female journalists behind these fonts of feminine “wisdom” base their advice? Aren’t they just as obsessed with their self image as the rest of us? Doesn’t the phrase “does my bum look big in this?” leap from their mouths as readily as it does from ours? Rather like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, we need only draw back the curtain to expose these self-appointed gurus for the fallible gossip mongers that they really are.

Perhaps there is more to be learned from the practical and simplistic world of men, where the term “plus size” is more likely to have a man rummaging around in his toolbox than looking in the mirror.

Not that men don’t care about how they look – they do. Indeed, men are just as vulnerable to the dictates of mass media ideas as women are. But where a woman’s self worth is linked directly to her physical attractiveness, a man’s, in contrast, is linked to his ability to wield strength and power. Even when it comes to bodies beautiful, a man’s motivation differs from that of women… Where the size of a woman’s cleavage can be indicative of her sexual prowess, the bulging biceps and rock hard abs craved by men are rather intended to intimidate other men than to attract the opposite sex.

Studies have shown moreover, that, where vanity is concerned, men are not hampered by the same doubts that plague a woman’s mind. Rather, men tend to see themselves as being slimmer and than they actually are; and, indeed, anyone who has been to a British football match will no doubt be familiar with the plethora of bare chests and naked beer bellies on display among the male dominated crowd. Such confidence and care-free exhibitionism has much to endear itself.

So, what is wrong, anyway, with having some beef on our bones? Studies have shown that, when it comes to male expectations of a desirable female shape, women grossly exaggerate the importance of slimness in the male mindset. Moreover, history shows that men’s tastes in female body shape have remained more or less consistent throughout the centuries. Big hips, a large bust and a full bottom seem to be the order of the day.

As British rock band, Queen once put it:

I’ve been singing with my band
Across the water, across the land,
I seen every blue eyed floozy on the way, hey
But their beauty and their style
Wear kind of smooth after a while.
Take me to them lardy ladies every time!

Oh, you gonna take me home tonight?
Oh, down beside that red firelight;
Oh, you’re gonna let it all hang out,
Fat bottomed girls, you make the rockin’ world go round.

Written by Queen guitarist Brian May, this celebration of the full figured woman was a 1978 UK hit single. The front cover of “Fat Bottomed Girls” controversially featured a curvacious, semi-naked woman on a bicycle, while the lyrics expressed in a humorous yet overtly sexual tone that bigger women are more seductive and sexually appealing to men.

British male television viewers seem to share this opinion. In 2006, plus size TV presenter, Fern Britton was voted one of the TV’s most desirable women; and in the world of comedy, larger-than-life comic actress Dawn French is still considered by many men as one of Britain ‘s sexiest celebrities. So much so, that even Sheffield hunk, Sean Bean, star of Sharpe, Troy and The Lord of the Rings, couldn’t resist a cameo appearance with her in the hit UK sitcom, The Vicar of Dibley.

Clearly, women are missing something here. Perhaps men are not as fascinated by the emaciated skeletons we see in the media as we might think. Like men, perhaps we, too, should see ourselves as better than we actually are, rather than hating ourselves for what we’re not.

It’s easy to regard today’s super slim celebrities as the benchmark of feminine beauty. But it is worth remembering that the most beautiful woman in history is not to be found in the pages of our glossy magazines, nor is she seen strutting down the catwalks of the fashion world. Nor, indeed, is she captured by photographers on the red carpets of Hollywood.

The British Restaurants Refused The Dress Code

The British restaurants refused from savage etiquette and changed over to liberal approaches to their guests’ clothing. It is mostly due to the rivalry reinforcement, and under its conditions, the public catering establishment prefer to take no notice of their clients’ clothes.

In the course of decade, many establishments like that required men to wear strict suits with tie or bow tie.

Jeans or any “casual trousers” were not allowed. As for women, there were definite restrictions regarding the trouser suits.

By the way, the name “dress code”, as the world goes, has appeared more than 100 years ago just in London for the first time.

On the safe side

Since “dress code” is going on to work in any other places after its cancellation in British public catering, here is the decryption of the more widespread terms, accepted, for example, for the invitation cards for public and business events.

White Tie – the modest formal code. Man should be dressed in a tailcoat with a white bow tie, jacket also in white; for a woman – an evening dress “till floor”, gloves, heeled shoes and a tiny purse. Costume jewelry and naked arms are not allowed. Possible events: president’s or ambassador’s banquet, wedding reception, ball, prize presenting.

Black Tie or Formal – man in a jacket, woman in an evening dress “till floor” or in a cocktail dress. Jewelry is allowable. Possible events: official evening reception, for example, Christmas or New Year’s banquet, wedding, opening night in a theater.

Black Tie Invited – man in a jacket, woman in a cocktail dress, a long dress or a stylish suit. Possible events: banquet in an elegant restaurant, corporate banquet, family occasion. The organizing and making such events and celebrations can require another dress code.

Black Tie Optional – man can substitute a jacket for a dark suit with a tie, woman in a cocktail dress or a stylish suit.

Creative Black Tie – this dress code plans the introduction of the fashion novelties and creative interpretation of formal suit – non-traditional accessories, gaudy colours.

Cocktail Attire – for a man – a dark suit, for a woman – a cocktail dress.

Semi-formal – a jacket or a dark suit with tie for a man, cocktail dress for a woman, if the event is after 18.00 (6 PM). Before this time – an ordinary suit with a tie for men and a stylish suit or a stylish daytime dress for women.

Top 10 Best British Movies in the Last 10 Years

If you look at the last decade of British films you’ll see the same names crop up again and again. Danny Boyle, Guy Ritchie, Neil Marshall… These British directors have battled the wind, rain, mud and general gloom of their tiny isle to nip and tuck the face of British cinema and influence movie-makers and goers on a global scale.

How has British film experienced a new renaissance? And why? It’s not just about the funding. It’s about ideas, and adding a fresh spin on old ideas. It’s about looking at tired old genres with new eyes, and it’s an approach to the blockbuster where Britain has helped push the boundaries. Let’s look at some of those genres, then move onto the top ten British films in the last decade…

The new-wave gangster caper

Do the gangsters of today have molls and leap on car sideboards? Sadly not – hence the rise of the British Cheeky Urban Gangster caper, as evinced by Snatch, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and several other mockney gangster movies… in fact, director Guy Ritchie created this new and commercially popular genre almost single-handedly. Attaguy.

The new-wave monster/horror movie

British directors Neil Marshall and Danny Boyle clearly grew up on a diet of comic books and late-night horror films, too much sugar and not enough vegetables. For which all movie-goers must be thankful. British monster films in the last ten years have been low on budget but high on cinematography, character acting and you’ve-just-GOT-to-tell-a-friend twists. Dog Soldiers, Severance, Creep, 28 Days Later (and the poor sequel, 28 Weeks Later)… These British films hit global cinemas with their innovative approach to tired old monster genres like werewolves and zombies. Speaking of which…

The Zom-Rom-Com

Yes, the zom-rom-com. Worth a mention all of its own, the zombie romance comedy is genre-splicing at its finest, and is entirely a recent British innovation. Nowadays the zom-rom-com is a film staple, with US-made Zombieland its most recent commercial success.

Let’s take a look at some of those mainstream movies that put Britain back on the cinema-goer’s map.

28 Days Later – 2002

Until 28 Days Later, zombies did what their master George A. Romero told them to do. Everyone knew a zombie walked slowly and craved brainnnnsss, because Dawn of the Dead said so.

Danny Boyle’s film opened with an eerie and inspired scene promising something new – a loner in hospital scrubs, walking the empty streets of a wrecked and deserted London. There’s something powerful in the image of a deserted city. The film ended with zombies who could have been you, or me, or your loved one – normal people but diseased – and fast. So terrifyingly fast. By updating the zombie format, this British monster film focused on what people are really scared of nowadays – disease, chaos, poverty and the unknown. And zombies who could outrun you. Suddenly the world woke up and realised there was more than one way to handle the zombie genre. After the success of 28 Days Later the zombie films followed thick and fast.

Dog Soldiers – 2002

Why should zombies get all the attention? Aren’t werewolves fun too? Neil Marshall threw us a bone with this low-budget but fantastic-looking werewolf horror movie set in the gorgeous wilds of Scotland. Wait, you didn’t know it was about werewolves? Forgive the spoiler – but the film was made eight years ago. To be fair, the film finishes with a delicious werewolf-related plot twist for those that don’t yet know. What really made this film was the fantastic, gritty humour and interplay between the grizzled soldiers sent to investigate the disturbance, and the film was also helped by the moodily-shot atmosphere. A must for horror and action lovers – but one to avoid if you’re not a fan of gore, however tasteful and considered the gore might be.

Shaun of the Dead – 2004

And here we have it… the zom-rom-com! A true love letter to Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, with plenty of film nerd in-jokes. Shaun of the Dead made an international star of everyone’s favourite ginger, Simon Pegg (Star Trek, Run Fat Boy Run). This film was witty, clever, charming, ridiculous… everything a zombie film has no right to be. Its bravery and humour made it a box office hit on both sides of the pond. A choice movie for anyone who likes zombies, romance, or comedy – and still a pretty safe bet for anyone who hates all the above. The ultimate in cross-genre success.

Children of Men – 2006

Children of Men. Was it sci-fi? Was it a drama? A thriller? An action movie? It was all of these things and none. Sci-fi haters considered it a beautiful and memorable film. Action movie lovers were thrilled by the powerful dust and rumble of the battle scenes. Everyone was moved by Michael Caine as a revolutionary old hippy, and the powerfully-handled concept of a pregnant woman in a near-future where fascists fight revolutionaries, refugee concentration camps abound and children are no more. Once again, the cinematography shone through to depict a beautiful, desolate rural England and a society torn apart by poverty and apocalyptic disease.

Casino Royale – 2006

It would be hard to list the top ten British movies of the last decade without namechecking Casino Royale – an entirely new cinematic makeover for England’s favourite son, James Bond. Daniel Craig was an inspired choice – brutish, surly, violent and… blonde. And even naked on occasion. A world away from the suave James Bonds of the past, and more in keeping with the expectations of action movie goers of today. And what was more – M was a woman! Good heavens! Whatever next? Audiences flocked to see this revamped creation. Sadly, it currently looks like the James Bond franchise is winding down…

Son of Rambow – 2007

Imagine a long, semi-perfect English summer in the 1980s. It’s only semi-perfect, because even on a long hot summer, being a young schoolboy is hormone hell. Two miss-matched boys are brought together to create their version of a Rambo sequel. They’ve only got a shabby old camera and a deserted wasteground, so their remake is by no means the big budget production of the original movie. But when the whole school joins in, and when the children start doing their own stunts, from kissing to explosions, this turns into a coming-of-age movie as iconic and classic and adult-friendly as Stand By Me, with a peculiarly bittersweet British slant.

Slumdog Millionaire – 2008

Danny Boyle is the darling of British cinema, constantly changing genres and finding new slants on old ideas which continue to satisfy an audience that demands so much more nowadays from its popcorn blockbuster movies. By 2008, Danny Boyle had a few worldwide film successes under his belt. There was Trainspotting, the black comedy where Ewan McGregor (Star Wars) made his name. There was 28 Days Later (zombie thriller, see above). There was also Sunshine, one of the few Danny Boyle films not to be considered as a top 10 best British film – an excellent but flawed atmospheric sci-fi thriller about some astronauts flying their ship into a dying sun to save the Earth.

In a total break from genre, Danny Boyle’s next film, the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire, took the world by storm. It’s a rags to riches story of an 18 year old orphan on the slum streets of Mumbai, India, whose life is so peculiar that it miraculously provides him with the answers to the questions on the TV quiz “Who wants to be a Millionaire?” and earns him a fortune – and the attentions of the police. On paper, you might think this is a ‘homework’ movie – a movie you know you should see but feel is too earnest to be truly enjoyable. Cast your doubts aside. Feel-good without being sugar sweet, Slumdog Millionaire changed the lives of its actors (the young female lead was taken out of a Mumbai slum and given a wage, fame and an education to co-star). It will also probably change your perception of fate, poverty, slums, India and TV quiz shows.

Moon – 2009

Move over, Danny Boyle – isn’t it time another British director got a crack at the whip? Moon is the debut movie by Duncan Jones – and it’s won a BAFTA, another 17 film awards and countless nominations. Moon is the story of lone blue-collar astronaut Sam Bell who is struggling to stay sane as he reaches the end of his three year shift, desperate to return home to Earth, his wife and his daughter. As the movie tagline says, “250,000 miles from home, the hardest thing to face…is yourself”. Moon is full of plot surprises, sterile moon beauty, impossibly fine acting from the leads (including Kevin Spacey as the computer), with a soundtrack to die for. Moon’s not just a sci-fi film – it’s a film about what it means to be human. And yes, it has some good gags in it. Nothing will prepare you for Moon… Except, possibly, 2001:A Space Odyssey. A must-see.

Sherlock Holmes – 2009

Sherlock Holmes is the latest offering from director Guy Ritchie, the ex Mrs. Madonna. Ritchie established himself as world-class with earlier successes like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (a love letter to the gangster caper, updated to a British East End setting for a modern audience).

A comedy action movie, Sherlock Holmes proves that when he’s on form and not indulging himself, Guy Ritchie can produce the perfect action movie. The film benefits from inspired casting: Downey Jnr (Sherlock Holmes) and Jude Law (Doctor Watson) revisit and revamp the dynamics between the much-loved duo and are clearly having fun; in interviews the actors say they did indeed have a bromance, so well did they gel together as co-leads. Guy Ritchie’s directorial quirks are put to fine use in the film, with jump-cuts and camera trickery adding to the meat of the plot rather than spoiling it. Lastly, the big budget is done justice with some great cinematography – if you want to see a thriving, foggy Victorian London and have no time machine, watching Sherlock Holmes is the best way to do it. One of the most enjoyable examples of a popcorn movie this decade.

Harry Brown – 2009

Director Daniel Barber is a relative newcomer on the British film scene. He’s looked at the great American movies and dramas covering the grimy side of life (like the Wire) and thought – how can this be updated, to offer the same action, the same drama, the same thrill, the same grandness of scale – but from a uniquely British perspective?

Cue Harry Brown. What does the British public currently fear most? Chavs, probably – a derogatory name given to a poor and violent youth subculture. Harry Brown is a chav revenge fantasy – the story of an old war veteran on a British slum estate who sees the social destruction brought about to his community by chavs and decides to take matters into his own hands. British National Treasure Michael Caine takes the starring role and is a joy to watch as an old age pensioner who refuses to back down.