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Cult of the Body Beautiful

  1. Compare the Venus of Willendorf and the Greek distortion of the perfected male body to the contemporary view of beauty.

  2. How does our society and values of our society determine how we depict the human body?

  3. Why do designers modify the body as seen above?


1) I believe that our sense of beauty is closer to the ideals of the Greeks than of the nomads. For one, the Nomads beliefs were based more on the beauty of reproduction and life in general and the Greeks were obsessed with the idea of becoming Godlike in beauty (physical appearance). Since the obsession with reproduction isn't such a big deal anymore, the ideals of beauty have changed, but the principles of distortion still remain the same in today's society.

2) Well there are certain stereotypes that have shaped the way we think of beauty as a norm. For instance, women must be skinny and men must be muscular. I think it's from what we see on Tv, in advertisements, etc that makes us think this way. Another thing, Celebrities are generally what is considered as 'beautiful.' They are people that are well known and looked up to. I'm sure that if all the billboards and things would show different figures, the newer generations would 'adapt' in their thinking and follow those ideas.

3) Well I'm sure that part of the reason is that we are told to. Another reason is that we know the computer programs. But I think that for some reason designers have the ability to see how to make things look better. Not that they aren't already, but we have the creative eye that tells us "this should go here, and this needs to be over here, etc...)

Twenty-five thousand years ago, the Venus of Willendorf was an image sought after because she was meant to be a sign of fertility, prosperity, and longevity. The perfect woman who could help other women by her sheer presence.Twenty-two thousand years later, when the Greeks sculpted the Kritios boy, they had finally perfected the art of sculpting the human body, but where bored because the human body was everywhere, so furthered their creations by exaggerating the human body: perfecting it beyond nature. They added muscle around the waist and tensed muscles of the backs of their statues, trying to create the "perfect human form". Minds making art to stimulate the minds of art seekers. (Does that make sense?)

In a book I read, The Ways of Seeing, it said that the female nude (starting in the Renaissance) was so popular because the audience was largely male. In Greek culture, although there were female nudes, most were male nudes. Society then was concerned more with "the body" not the gender. With today's values (or lack there of), the female body is being examined by more than doctors. Whether it's in art world (the body is truly beautiful) or posted on the internet (creepy) the audience male or female tells us to be desirable we must be 5'10", 100 lbs., with long blonde hair, glowing complexion, ...

Designers changed the appearance of the woman to emphasize the notion that to gain whatever status she has is because of her perfect look.

1. Venus of Willendorf represented the view that, 25,000 years ago, women had to be oversized to be healthy, bear children and survive the famine of the winter. The Greek distortion of the perfected male body represented the vain god-like, "More Human than Human" view of the body. Now we have our skinny, youthful, runway model contemporary view of beauty. Eventhough we hold these models to be perfect, this is still not good enough. We can alter digitally to make them even more perfect,

2. Our society is always working towards perfection. We work overtime, we can get boob jobs and drive Hummers. What is perfection, how much is too much? Nobody can answer these questions, if they do, it is only their version of perfection.

3. Designers change/alter because they can. Instead of paying high priced models, they can get an average looking model and make them look how ever the perfect model of today looks like.

1. Woman of Willendorf in Paleolithic emphasis on well-nourished body suggest an association with fertility ultimately beauty while the Greek represent the male ideal of beauty: youthful, muscular, and perfect base on their religious believed that god in human form. We perceive the beauty or ugliness of our bodies is dependent on cultural attitudes to physiognomy.
2. We are creating the perfect image base on the scopic drive of what people want to see instead of nature beauty or religious believe.
3. Designers have to modify the body to make a perfect, and unrealistic iconography of fashion beauty that we used to perceived in daily

1: Since those times, it seems as though nothing has changed. We, as humans, have always been depicting ourselves in a non-realistic way. Venus of Willendorf was created, distorted in a way that was non-human. To them to be hugely grotesque and distorted, as in the little statue was beautiful, pleasing to the eyes for them. With the Greeks the men, instead of the women, was highly regarded to be Gods, to look like them as close as possible. With that, the men were created, distorted so as to look as Gods, to look more then human. For the Greeks, men having the body as close to Gods were beautiful. Now in our times, in our society, it is the women who are regarded as the most beautiful, as goddess. Distorted in a way that is not realistic. To us, our society, this is the most beautiful perception of the human body. But, will this change in time?

Well, in our society we want to see everything perfect, objects with out any flaws. Damn near everything; Cars, food, clothes, effects in movies and T.V., and people. It seems our society is so wrapped up in trying to depict everything as perfect or over perfect as possible.
As for, humans in our society, we need to see females as skinny as possible, and as flawless and perfect as possible. Making females look more than human. We are living in a world that is filled with fake images and and un-human figures.

It is so hard to talk about the body being realistic or non realistic, when really the human body no matter what..is beautiful. The Venus of Willendorf was so unproportionate that it was unrealistic, but back then that is how they viewed it. They felt it was beautiful because it was healthy and motherly. Back then they didn't see the body being proportionate....it was just a heavy center, but that was the beauty. In the Greek period, the men were very muscular and masculine. They were seen as very healthy and trim. Their bodies were toned up and they were looked upon as God like. It was definetly a different view then the Venus of Willendorf. It is hard to compare it to the way we see our bodies today. Women are always dying to be thin and and toned. It is sad how the women in advertising seem to get smaller and smaller. It is really horrible on the younger generations. Kids these days see the perception of beauty, walking down the runway and think that thats what they have to look like to be beautiful. Too many people are starving themselves to be thin, even males. If a healthier lifestyle such as good food and great exercise were advertised more, I think people would maybe wake up and realize they could be a healthy weight, intstead of resorting to plastic surgery. It is so sad that we have it available now, it takes away from the whole idea of "living healthy."
It is really sad that designers will make a skinny model lose 20 lbs more in a photograph, just to give her the fake, perfect barbie doll look. Our bodies are not meant to look like a barbie doll, so I have no clue why they even made them! Whoever created the skinny, tall, big breasted barbie dolls should be put away because it is one of the most used toys/dolls for girls for how many years! It is sad that little girls will grow up playing with them and realizing how small they are and figure that they need to resemble the doll. It is fun to edit photographs, but to digitally remove skin/fat/body (whatever you want to call it) is really sad. It belongs there, that is why it is there when the photographer snaps the camera!

Wonderful to read!