Saturday, March 6, 2010

zaftig


\ZAHF-tig\

adjective

: having a full rounded figure : pleasingly plump

it really amazes me how the aesthetics of physical beauty transform over time (not to mention across cultures, but i don't want to spread myself too thin here). the etymology of this word suggests it derives from the yiddish word "zaftik," which translates to "juicy" or "succulent." in modern terms, i want to say: voluptuous.

as i was growing up, and growing into my body, my mother used to tell me that all the women in our family had "hourglass figures" (she loves to make sweeping statements like this; she also once said, "all of my children have nice noses," as if it were a prerequisite of some sort). "hourglass figure" just meant big boobs and big hips. i was most definitely a member of this club and i hated it. i wanted to be boyish like all the other girls in the eighth grade. i didn't want the breasts of a pin-up model when i was thirteen; they were of no use to me. in fact, by boobs never stopped growing, and i ended up having a breast reduction a year later.

hourglass figures may have been coveted in my mother's generation, but this was hardly the case at amity high school in the nineties. the girls that were considered sexy were svelte and athletic—not curvy. even after my breast reduction (which brought me from the larger side of a 36DD down to a 36C), i was still curvy and carried a little more chunk than the athletic girls. i was never overweight, but i was by no means slight or slim. somewhere in the middle: ZAFTIG.

one time, in my early twenties, i passed by a magazine geared toward plus size girls. the headline on the front read: Sexy at 12, 14, 16. i was a size twelve and could not believe that's what american culture considered plus size. sizing is a really fucked up phenomenon. right now, by contemporary american standard, i am a size four. when i happen to shop for vintage clothes, this size increases to six or eight, which means sizes are dropping. i'm assuming this is to boost people's egos. it amazes me when i walk into a store and i see a size 0. what does that mean? you don't exist? i once saw a size 00. this must mean you really don't exist.

i feel like the voluptuous, ZAFTIG woman is considered sexy, but she is almost always relegated to the world of porn stars or pin-up girls or strippers, as if her body type somehow robs her of a certain amount of respect, or that she must exude sex in order to be considered sexy.

sometimes i feel like i sold out by losing weight. perhaps i should have tried harder to appreciate my voluptuousness, and then i could have been one of those sexy, hourglass girls that didn't have to be a porn star. the idea of sexy, to me, translates mostly in self-confidence, of which i had none until i lost weight. i suppose i totally failed at being a successful ZAFTIG. but i encourage other girls to succeed where i could not.

3 comments:

  1. Oh, the perils of your mother's "potluck" gene pool.

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  2. you surely learn something new every day. <3 you!

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