Heaping Helping

     In our last thrilling episode, we continued out discussion of Round People by considering Round People in Love.  Because we are avoiding the whole catchphrase “Nobody loves a Fat Man” and its descendants, this quickly turned into a discussion of the Round Woman and Love.  We saw a number of postcards which suggested that a Round Woman and a Round Man could live happily ever after, the subtext being that no one else was likely to want either of them.

     And yet…maybe I should pause for a warning label here.  The concept is controversial, and you will see glimpses of it in every generation and every phase of fashion.  Whatever is in fashion is natural and understandable, and all old styles are now exposed as utterly baffling and laughable.  In my high school days, one of my classmates was snickering at the yearbook pictures of young men with crewcuts, and was told by an older person that this is the sort of thing everyone says about other generations.

     The older person was informed, “Oh, people won’t laugh like this at long hair.”  (I should mention that my high school days were at an awkward time when everyone—men and women alike—seemed to be trying to look like Cher.)  The Older Person snickered a little to himself.

     I’m not taking up generational questions here.  I wish to state that there is always a significant proportion of the population that likes what it likes, whether that is in fashion or not.  The insistence in fashion for a straight silhouette, starting somewhere around the days of the hobble skirt, was rejected by some folks, and certainly by some cartoonists who expressed their opinions on postcards.  In fact, in the 1930s, when the Flapper look with minimal curves began to fade, there were those who celebrated the change.

     Note here, for example, that the object of the discussion is not someone who would fit the long, straight lines of Flapper fashion.

     We must not ignore the contribution of Walter Wellman, the postcard artist whose work stretched from his high-pompadoured Edwardian ladies around 1909 through the World War II era.  Once he decided styles had changed, he embraced, and even promoted, a much curvier figure than even the fashion of the 1930s encouraged.

     The 1849s made up a decade of austerity, and slim, severe figures were once again in fashion.  (There has been a lot of research on why the focus of pinups during World War II was long legs; I’ll let you look that up yourself.)  But the followers of Walter Wellman refused to give up the ladies with wide curves.

     Men on postcards sang out the wonders of having a girlfriend triple their own size.  (This particular caption can be found on numerous postcards with different couples.  It was either a case of mass theft or this was a slogan/catchphrase I just haven’t been able to trace yet.)

     I am sorry to report that, in discussing this matter with random acquaintances, I have had some resistance.  “Of course they were glad to have fat girlfriends,” someone informed me.  “Obese chicks are easy because they’re so desperate.”

     And yet the Round Women on postcards don’t seem all THAT anxious.  They are not prepared to fall for men just because the night is clear and the moon is yellow. 

     Which is not the way they would behave if they were desperate for any kind of appreciation.

     The Round Woman is just as leery as any other woman about the date who is too forward.  They may be large, but this does not mean their self-respect is tiny.  (“Obese chicks” indeed.)

     What it comes down to, I think, is that we cannot predict what will appeal to any human being, when it comes to romance.

     And size and shape are no bars to a conventional happy ending.  (Although with any luck, your honeymoon trip will not be planned by a postcard cartoonist.)

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