Did Renoir Have a Fat Fetish?
Did Renoir have a fat fetish?
At the time, we were living in Brooklyn, NY and I had just gotten a job in Manhattan. It was my first day on the job. I had navigated the subway, gotten lost in the Rockefeller station tunnels, grabbed some breakfast, stopped to put a band aid on my newly forming toe blister and still made it to work on time! Good day, good day! I came into the building and stood in front of the elevator. The front desk attendant popped up quickly to push the elevator button for me. Oh crap did I have any tip money? Do I tip the guy at my work building for pushing the elevator button? “It’s my first day.” I say, not having my I.D. yet… He then said with a straight look on his face, ” A beautiful woman such as yourself shouldn’t have to push an elevator button.” At this point I was pretty sure I was on Candid Camera or something, so of course I giggled and shook my head as if someone had paid him to trick me into thinking I was pretty. He then tilted his head and smiled and said, “You are very pretty and where I come from you would be revered for your body. You are beautiful.” DING… goes the elevator…DING… goes my self worth… could I really be pretty even though I’m fat?
Fast forward a few months. I am walking down Fifth Avenue in jeans and my 13 year old University of Colorado sweatshirt. The sweatshirt that has barely any cuffs or neck left and a permanent stain of “something” on it. I was just out to walk the city. A tour bus guide lunges at me while I was waiting to safely cross the street. I immediately put out my hand and shake my head letting him know I did not want his flyer for the bus tour and say, ” I live here.” He smiled and said… “I know you live here, I just wanted to tell you you are beautiful and to ask if you are busy tonight?” First off, this was hysterical, the day I am not all dolled up and am wearing a sweatshirt that has ‘Colorado’ on it is the day that someone actually thinks I live there and am not a tourist… take that Carrie Bradshaw! And secondly, did he just tell me I was pretty in a sweatshirt, jeans, barely any makeup and body fluff? As I stood looking at him out of the corner of my eye I saw a woman standing behind him, she looked over at me, up and down went her eyes…. I looked at her, and up and down my shoulders went, as if I was just as perplexed as she was. I just wanted out of there. The gentleman then asked again if I had plans for the evening. I slowly held up my left hand with my wedding ring on it and I am sure a look on my face which was that of confusion with maybe a touch of disbelief. The man said, “Lucky man you have.”, then he smiled and nodded and left me to cross the street.
As I relayed the events of both of these experiences to my husband he assures me that I am pretty and that he is not surprised that other men find me pretty too… With that said, the same old thoughts replay in my head… yeah, yeah, yeah my husband thinks I am pretty, but he has too! (Insert husband shaking head and giving up here.) And the big reoccurring thought, but I’m fat?!?
Beauty is something that is very subjective and we all have our own ideas on what is pleasing to look at. Aesthetics is an entire branch of philosophy dedicated to the ideas on beauty. Standing in a museum in Philadelphia, several months ago, I had an epiphany… I was staring in wonderment at Renoir painting after Renoir painting and so were the others surrounding me. As most of you probably know Renoir had many a curvy woman as his subjects in his paintings. He was a master at creating a softness in the feminine form and making a thin ballerina look just as beautiful as a large naked woman lounging against a tree in the woods… because that’s what we do, you know. I started to take note of the discussions people were having surrounding the paintings… not one person suggested that Renoir had a fat fetish, or that the women should lose some weight, or that these women were making healthcare costs rise! Every single person , even if they weren’t a fan of Renoir, could not deny the beauty they were seeing. So how is it in our society and in my mind that fat can’t be seen as beautiful?
When I look around and look at all of my girlfriends, I think I have the most beautiful friends in the world. Are we all perfect… no way, but we are all beautiful. Too Short, too thin, too tall… I see nothing but beauty. So why is it that I couldn’t see that within myself just because I thought I was too plump?
I know this article may wreak of low self esteem, but instead I hope it is an article that sparks something within myself and those who read it. I promise it is not a request for compliments, but instead a call to change perspective on myself and everything around me… I would go so far as to say that every woman at one time or another doubts her appearance and I hope that one day all of us finally take the time to acknowledge and believe that we are beautiful, faults and all. If we all just took a little more time to look for the true beauty in all people, animals and our surroundings instead of scrutinizing every fault… this world would be a much more peaceful and precious place. How amazing would it be to wake up every morning to a reflection in the mirror that evoked beauty, peace and love… a nice way to start the day off indeed! I am beautiful not despite being fat… simply I am beautiful and so are you!