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A beautiful -- or "grotesque"? -- 35,000-year-old woman

Posted by Christopher Shea  May 19, 2009 10:48 AM

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Beauty: in the eye of the headline writer

Melissa McEwan, of Shakesville, was scanning headlines online when she came across coverage of the 35,000-year-old ivory carving of a female form that may turn out to be oldest works of representational art yet found. Given the form's zaftig proportions, McEwan thought the sculpture offered a nice counterexample to our own culture's obsession with hyper-fit female bodies.

McEwan counts herself among the plus-sized who are either erased or mocked in pop culture. "Look like anyone you know?" she typed as she forwarded a photo of the carving to her partner.

She thought the carving might awaken people who pondered its social meaning to the realization that three-percent body fat has not always, in the history of homo sapiens, been a non-negotiable requirement for female pulchritude.

Then she saw the headline the BBC had placed on its story: "Ancient Man Sculpts a Grotesque Vision of the Human Form."

Grotesque? By all accounts, the sculpture was intended as a celebration of the female body. The BBC, to its credit, did wind up changing the headline to something more neutral.

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1 comments so far...
  1. Thank you so much for covering this. Melissa McEwan is a phenomenal writer, and it was such a treat to see her work presented in the Globe.

    Posted by ladoctorita May 30, 09 09:26 PM
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