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Peter Paul Rubens

I wanted to be “Rubenesque”

Diana and her Nymphs Surprised by the Fauns (detail)  1638-40

I have taken this definition of Rubenesque from urbandictionary.com ~

A woman that has a similar body shape to the style of women painted by Rubens. Not just any slightly overweight woman. Not just any girl who has round hips or a bum. The women in Rubens paintings were often very plump, with large round hips. While it was once a compliment, now it often a criticism or back handed compliment.
Here is the link to the artist’s bio on wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Paul_Rubens
And here is the link to what I think is the official website for Mr. Rubens:  http://www.peterpaulrubens.org/
Roughly 12-13 years ago (2000-2002) in one of my first college art history classes we touched briefly on a man named Peter Paul Rubens.  Though his was one slide of the hundreds (thousands?) I saw in my college career, it was one that stuck with me beyond the classroom.  Partly because of the beauty of his paintings and his lovely use of color and partly because of the subject matter.  I know the nude human form has always been a popular choice, but his nude women were simply breathtaking to me.  Their soft, curvy bodies reminded me of my own and I think that may be why I loved them so much.  At the time he was painting, the women he portrayed were the ideal.  Rubens’ women might have been an image of what women wanted to be like and what men wanted to be with – if that is at all true, then for the most part times have changed, huh?  I immediately added myself to Rubens’ voluptuous category and consciously took on on that adjective when referring to myself.  This was in college, well before I was truly obese and at that time I fit the description “to a T”.
The Three Graces 1620-23
It was also at this point that I was involved in a relationship with a man who adored my curves.  He took every chance to tell me so and because he was 10 years older than me I thought that he was um…well-versed in regards to women.  It must be ok to be soft and curvy if this (pretty damn good looking older man) thought I was the bees knees.  So in retrospect, maybe these were contributing factors as to why I never attempted any significant weight loss as a young adult.
Cimon and Iphigenaia
I have never dated anyone who was dissatisfied with the way I looked or the way my body was and the awesome guy I married is no different!  He has always cherished me and treated me like his little princess.  Until I became his um…big princess.  I wonder if my security with myself led me to get heavier than I should.  Was it a true sense of satisfaction with myself or was it an unconscious pretense because I was scared to acknowledge what I was doing to myself and too darn lazy to do anything about it?  I’m not sure.  I feel like it was perhaps both.
Venus and Adonis
I was the most shy, wall-flower-ish, introverted girl you could imagine before I attended an all-female high school and a women’s college.  I opened up and found myself, my voice, my whimsical/outspoken/sly personality, my creative desires (being an art major kinda blows the top off of being a square…at one point, my dad jokingly asked my beloved professor and adviser if he could “put me back in my box…just a little bit”), and am still the girl who I became late in high school.
And fast forward to 2010/2011 I really was just full of idiotic excuses…I’m tired, I can’t fit it in to my schedule, I watch the kids all day, I don’t like sweating…what BS.  I can’t fit my own health into my schedule?!  Now, I believe that we have to take care of ourselves to the best of our abilities to help us better care for those around us.  Exercise, eating better, sleeping enough, being intimate with your partner, taking a bubble bath during naptime or running off to the book store to read and drink coffee while the kids are at school – whatever you need to do for yourself be it big or small, for heaven’s sake – DO IT!  You are worth it.  Your family and friends are worth it.
Side note:  Remind me sometime to do a post about some of my weird senior year projects…video taping a sand castle being washed away, using my body as the brush and rolling around naked on a 5′x9′ canvas (in my private senior studio) and showing my class my process by strutting across campus in nothing but paint and bubble wrap – I still have the canvas and the pictures.  A trusted girlfriend who happened to work at a photography studio took and developed the pictures for me…YES, pre-digital cameras, and NO I’m not that friggin’ old!  So, there’s something you didn’t know about me ~ I’ve had nude pictures taken!  HA!  I’m such a tramp.
I am still getting used to the changes in my body since I began losing my excess weight in June 2011.  I’m not quite done yet, my goal is 14 pounds away, but I don’t want to be wafer thin and flat chested.  Maybe I did in middle school and junior high when all the girls were buying clothes from the J. Crew catalog, and I was trying to hide myself under boys’ baggy jeans and oversize shirts.  But I am seeing the final product start to take shape and am happy to say that I think I’ll still have a touch of the Rubenesque figure I have so admired.  However, I am aware now that I was not a healthy person at this same point last year and I cannot and will not ever head back down that road again.  Being Rubenesque is one thing, being obese is entirely another and I need to keep that in mind as I strive to maintain my new eating habits and lifestyle choices.  I guess in my head I’m thinking about moderation…all things in moderation: food, sweets and curves…any of your vices.
I’m not sure how to wrap this one up…this one was more about just sharing something about me.  And I’ll definitely start pondering ideas for a college art project post.  Have a wonderful weekend, y’all!  If nothing, hopefully I introduced a new artist to you for your consideration.
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