The New Silhouette

posted in: Fashion, Story, Tips, Travel 2
Pinup illustration by Enoch Bolles.
Illustration by Enoch Bolles for FilmFun Magazine, April 1940.

Today, Yuri and I leave California. Our flight departs mid-morning and because we stop in Denver and because the rotation of the Earth, we will reach Chicago at 5:00 this evening. It will be dark and it will be cold.

Southern California hoards the sun. It’s just always sunny here; that is not a myth. Southern California is also the land of fake boobs. Not a myth, either. My first night here, Yuri and I went for a late dinner to a schmancy restaurant that had real citrus trees growing inside of it. They served a lobster bisque that tasted just like a fisherman’s hat (any respectable lobster bisque does.) The tea-lights were glowing in the atrium were we sat; the outdoor fireplaces popped sparks; the wine goblets were fishbowl-size. It was all achingly Californian and I did a little people-watching before my branzino arrived. I looked at the women, specifically.

Every era has its prevailing female silhouette. This doesn’t change in a single generation but over the course of several. I’m not talking about fashion: hemlines rise and fall on an almost diurnal cycle. I’m speaking of body shape, the figure cut by a woman in the time in which she lives — or, more accurately, the figure any woman wants to cut to be seen as beautiful in her culture. Let’s list a few iconic examples:

The Peter Paul Rubens woman: voluptuous to the point of meaty; the term “Rubenesque” remains very much in English language rotation
The Gibson Girl: a full bust and hips with a painfully tiny, corseted waist; hair piled on the head in a breadbox-sized up-do
The 1940s gal: plastics manufacturing and WWII exerted influence on the brassieres of the time, giving us the “Torpedo” or “Bullet” style boob so pointy it could poke an eye out (and a few surely did, ow)
The Waif: the 1920s begat Twiggy, Twiggy begat Kate Moss, and the heroin-chic look that launched countless anorexic girls arrived in the 1990s.

It may not be news to others, as Kim Kardashian’s anatomy-defying shape (a Venus of Willendorf but with bronzer) has been appreciated for a number of years and her body is the best example of the new silhouette. Looking at the women of SoCal the other night, I saw that this new shape has truly taken root in the minds of men and women as being the beauty ideal of the day.

Here’s what you’ll need:

A full — and I mean full — bottom, but don’t you be droopy. The bottom must be lifted and perfectly shaped with the assistance of Spanx or some sort of “shaper panty” (formerly referred to as a girdle, let’s not forget.) And even if your bottom is really nice already, there’s a certain buoyancy and firmness that you want, so the shaper panty is needed, regardless. Seems a little unfair to strap a perky 20-year-old into one of those horrid things, but I don’t make the rules.

From there, you’ll need to do crunches to maintain a flat belly. The waist size is actually not so important, but a sloppy belly will never do. You can be thick but not flabby. In fact, thick is good, but there must be no jiggle when you cross the room, only a rub: your thighs should rub together, your buttcheeks should rub together (yep, under the Spanx) and your boobs should shift and rub together, too, and all of this should take place tightly bound with tight-fitting clothing. The hair is long and salon-fresh. The nails are manicured. The jewelry is precious stones. There is eyeshadow and false eyelashes.

Though skin tone has nothing to do with silhouette, it’s worth noting that if you have any sort of Mediterranean blood coursing through your veins, you are ahead. Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Albania, Spain — any country that produces tawny or olive-skinned people, these are the most attractive people these days when mixed with white people. Again, this is what I perceive and what I perceived in Newport Beach, CA the other night. I’m not advocating or not-advocating, just reporting.

Of this criteria, I have… Well, it’s not for me to say. I can say I’m about as pasty a white girl as there ever was. And I do not wear Spanx as a matter of principle and mental well-being.

I do have very nice nails, however.