Ideal Body Shape and Why We Shouldn’t Give a Fig.

Rubens thought that plumptious girls with nothing on were the tastiest thing in gesso. In late 16th Century Flanders, calories were hard to find, and an infection could strip your body of reserves of fat and muscle mass, so rich and healthy girls were plump.

Skipping forward a century or 4, in the 40s and 50s, many countries were still experiencing post war rationing and statuesque was still the ideal.


But come the sixties and the green revolution, calories became more abundant and thin was in.


As calories became more and more abundant, it became harder and harder for women (and men) to stay slim. That which is difficult to acquire is always desirable and therefore the desirable figure was slimmer and slimmer. By the 80s it was no longer enough to be slim, we had to be fit as well, probably because anyone with enough time to workout was time rich, if not money rich.


The skinny ideal has now reached such an extreme that the French have created the so called “Skinny-Model-Law” banning models with a BMI of less than 18.


So, amongst other things, the ideal figure seems to depend very much on the economy at the time. If that shape corresponds to a healthy body, that is just a matter of chance.

Now, in the post Photoshop age, the ideal body may literally be impossible to achieve, but I’m sure that won’t stop us trying.

My father once had the good luck to observe the dig at Dinosaur Cove in Victoria. He came home with his head full of a woman he’d met who could wield a jack hammer above her head. That seemed to him the ideal woman (other than my mother, of course). One who could look after herself. A strong and competent woman. I’d like to see that girl in the picture above lift a dead chicken, let alone a jack hammer over her head!

Now back to my quest for the ideal body, completely oblivious to the point I’ve just made.

This week I am 55.6kg. 3kg down since the start of this little journey. Although I completely lost track of my weight after diagnosis, I’m pretty sure I’m now below the weight I was back then, and that’s important because even a small increase in BMI post diagnosis correlates with recurrence.



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