Killer Doll from America
Okay, there isn't much I can add to this. If you have strong (or mild) opinions about this, Leave A Comment.
It's always tragic when people die early, but when people die early because of This -- I don't think "tragic" really captures the gist/geist of this situation.
I've TRIED to grow up to believe that the things that are the LEAST important about a human being are Size and Shape and Mass and Weight.
Obviously I am So Wrong about these beliefs that people are actually willing themselves to shrink themselves to death -- and just before they entirely vanish, they become the most admired and beloved and photographed and best paid of all human beings on Earth.
About seven years ago, one of the gifts of my TV cable system was a remarkable beauty pageant from the South American nation of Colombia. My Spanish sucks (my Portugues, if possible, is worse), but I needed no subtitles to appreciate the Miss Colombia pageant.
Up here in the largely Calvinist United States of America, the Sizeable and Free Human Female Ass is a Forbidden public image. An unfortunate North American woman may have a larger-than-permissable ass, but she hides and tames and shrinks and imprisons it scrupulously in powerful latex undergarments so no one will suspect she actually has this dangerous, frightening affliction.
But every one of the candidates for Miss Colombia -- Santa Maria y Jesuchristo! these women had the most astonishing, amazing, spectacular, wiggling, jiggling, vibrant, round and sizeable derrieres, and all Totally Liberated from constricting latex undergarments. Apparently in Colombia, there is no word for Girdle, no such garments exist there, and nobody tries to smuggle them in from more Puritanical climbes.
Sometimes the pageant camera would just entirely ignore the candidate's head, face, arms and breasts, and linger for five minutes entirely on the young woman's derriere as she strolled around the stage. The applause from the audience at these moments was thunderous and authentic. Nobody had to turn on a big sign that said: APPLAUSE
Every one of these women was competing to prove beyond any possible doubt that she had size, shape, curvature, mass and weight.
And Bob the Gringo/Yanqui had never seen ANYTHING like it. At least not in public or on TV.
Well, that was Sudamerica just seven years ago.
Here's Sudamerica today, ahora.
Leave A Comment. Let Vleeptron know your thoughts.
The New York Times
Sunday 14 January 2007
In the Land of Bold Beauty,
a Trusted Mirror Cracks
by LARRY ROHTER
AS king of carnival, the corpulent Rei Momo is supposed to embody all the jollity, carnality and excess associated with that most Brazilian of bacchanals. So when the event’s reigning monarch has gastric bypass surgery, sheds 150 pounds and starts an exercise program, you begin to wonder what’s going on.
And when six young women die of anorexia in quick succession -- two in the last two weeks -- the wonder turns to bewilderment. Brazil may well be the most body-conscious society in the world, but that body has always been Brazil’s confident own -- not a North American or European one.
For women here that has meant having a little more flesh, distributed differently to emphasize the bottom over the top, the contours of a guitar rather than an hourglass, and most certainly not a twig. Anorexia, though long associated with wealthier industrialized countries, was an affliction all but unheard-of here.
But that was before the incursions of the Barbie aesthetic, celebrity models, satellite television and medical makeovers made it clear just how far some imported notions of beauty, desirability and health have encroached on Brazilian ideals once considered inviolate.
By -- ‘upgrading’ to international standards of beauty, said Mary del Priore, a historian and co-author of "The History of Private Life in Brazil," the country is abandoning its traditional belief that "plumpness is a sign of beauty and thinness is to be dreaded." The contradictory result, she added, is that "today it’s the rich in Brazil who are thin and the poor who are fat."
A generation ago, the ideal type here was Martha Rocha, a Miss Brazil from the mid-1950s. She finished second in the Miss Universe competition supposedly because her body was a bit too generous in the hips, buttocks and thighs, but since those characteristics were so highly valued here, as suggested by cartoons and the popularity of the semi-pornographic drawings of Carlos Zéfiro that circulated, it was the rest of the world whose taste was questioned.
Even the famous "girl from Ipanema," immortalized in the bossa nova song written in 1962, illustrated the cultural differences that prevailed then: only in the English lyrics is she "tall and tan and young and lovely." In the original Portuguese version, the emphasis is on "the sweet swing" of her hips and backside as she walks, a sway described as "more than a poem, the most beautiful thing I have ever seen."
Today, in sharp contrast, the epitome of beauty is Gisele Bündchen, the top model whose enormous international success has inspired the thousands of Brazilian girls who dream of emulating her to enroll in modeling schools and competitions. But very little about Ms. Bündchen’s body -- tall and blond, rangy yet busty -- connects her to her homeland and its traditional self-image.
"Hers is a globalized beauty that has nothing to do with the Brazilian biotype," said Joana de Vilhena Novaes, author of "The Intolerable Weight of Ugliness: On Women and Their Bodies" and a psychologist here. "She has very little in the way of hips, thighs or fanny. She’s a Barbie," one whose parents are of German descent.
Dr. Novaes and others have noted that during the 1960s and 70s, Brazilian girls played with a locally made doll named Susi, who, reflecting the national aesthetic, was darker and fleshier than her counterparts abroad. But in the 1970s, Barbie arrived, and by the mid-1980s, production of Susi dolls had ceased, though it has resumed in recent years in a sort of backlash.
Yet until recently no one here would ever have talked with admiration about having an hourglass figure like Barbie’s, let alone the coat-hanger physiques of the international runways. Instead, the ideal was what is known as "um corpo de violão," or "guitar-shaped body"; that is, like Susi’s, thicker in the waist, hips and fanny.
One indication of how rapidly values are changing can be gleaned from a government study released in November, just after the first in the cluster of anorexia deaths, that of Ana Carolina Reston, a 21-year-old model. According to the survey, the percentage of the population taking appetite-suppressants more than doubled between 2001 and 2005, making Brazil the world champion in the consumption of diet pills.
"The reasons are purely aesthetic, not medical, especially for women," who account for at least 80 percent of the market, said Dr. Elisaldo de Araújo Carlini, a professor at the Federal University of São Paulo who is the author of the study. "They want to get thin no matter what, all because of images from north of the Equator. It is a cruel cultural imposition on the Brazilian woman."
* Health Guidelines Suggested for Models (January 6, 2007)
* U.S., Italy Addressing The Health of Models (December 7, 2006)
* Skeletal' Models Create Furor Over British Vogue (June 3, 1996)
* THE MEDIA BUSINESS: ADVERTISING -- ADDENDA; Group Seeks Boycott Of Calvin Klein (May 4, 1994)
* Models (Professional)
* Anorexia Nervosa
* Mental Health and Disorders
Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company
The New York Times
30 December 2006
Burst of High-Profile
by LARRY ROHTER
In less than two months, four young women have died in widely publicized cases of anorexia in Brazil, causing a national debate about body image and eating disorders.
The problem is a new one here, and it clearly puzzles and shocks Brazilians. In this country, eliminating hunger among the millions of the poor has traditionally been an important political cause, so the notion that people would voluntarily starve themselves is hard for most Brazilians to comprehend.
In the latest incident, Beatriz Cristina Ferraz Bastos, a 23-year-old student and office worker, died on Christmas Eve, weighing just 75 pounds (34 kilograms). On her home page at Orkut, a popular Web site for young Brazilians, she described herself as "thin" after having been "110 pounds (50 kg) overweight" as a teenager, and included before and after photographs to prove her point.
The first death, in mid-November, was that of Ana Carolina Reston, a 21-year-old model, and it was initially regarded as an aberration. At the time of her death, Ms. Reston stood 5 feet 8 inches (173 cm) tall but weighed just over 80 pounds (36.3 kg) and was undergoing medical treatment after having collapsed at a fashion shoot in Japan.
A few days later, though, a 21-year-old fashion student also died of anorexia. At the beginning of this month, her death was followed by that of a 23-year-old manicurist, and a full-fledged media frenzy was on, with articles and television programs speculating that Brazil's obsession with physical beauty was getting out of hand.
In the clearest sign that the issue has reached public awareness, a popular television soap opera, "Pages of Life," includes a character who is a teenage ballerina suffering from bulimia. In addition, a weekly newsmagazine published a cover story last month that featured a photograph of Ms. Reston alongside a headline that read, "Inside the Mind of an Anorexic."
At the same time, though, more than 11 million families, mostly in the impoverished northeast region of the country, benefit from a government program that pays a small monthly stipend to those who do not have enough to eat. According to the national statistical office, at least 8 percent of Brazil's 185 million people are underweight, a vast majority because they are too poor to afford a proper diet.
All four of the deaths from anorexia, in contrast, have occurred in the state of São Paulo, the country's most populous, prosperous and modern. It is also the center of Brazil's booming fashion industry, which has come under pressure to take steps to protect working models and discourage ordinary girls from starving themselves in order to conform to designers' and booking agents' idea of feminine beauty.
Gisele Bündchen, a model who in recent years has been among the best known and most successful in the world, is Brazilian. Her fame and wealth are widely admired here and have prompted thousands of other young women to enroll in modeling schools and competitions, whose number has proliferated.
Last month, after Ms. Reston died, Ms. Bündchen agreed to an interview with Folha de São Paulo, a leading daily newspaper. She criticized the international obsession with thinness and urged girls who hoped to emulate her not to fall into that trap.
"Unfortunately, with the competition that exists in our milieu, a lot of girls attach more importance to work and certain notions of beauty than to their health," she said. "To go hungry in order to copy a certain standard is a big mistake and is not going to guarantee anyone's success."
The annual São Paulo Fashion Week is scheduled to be held again late next month, and organizers have said they will require proof that all participating models are at least 16 years old and that they have supplied a health certificate. They have also announced a health and anorexia awareness campaign that includes print, broadcast and Internet announcements, the distribution of fliers and talks at schools.
Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company