The Venus of Willendorf

If you asked me to choose a symbol for fat acceptance and fat admiration (two types of FA), I’d pick the Venus of Willendorf (perhaps better named the Woman of Willendorf). If you’re not familiar with this beauty, first, just take a look:

I’ve read descriptions of her as having “exaggerated” breasts and belly, and that therefore she must be a “fertility symbol”. But she’s not exaggerated; she’s a very realistic figure, apart from the very thin arms and lack of detail on the face. I’ve seen women who look pretty much just like her (heck, I married one). She might represent a fertility goddess. Or, she might represent someone that the sculptor really liked looking at. I suspect the latter.

What does she mean to you?


10 thoughts on “The Venus of Willendorf

  1. She means to me that women like me are beautiful, loved, that we deserve to be here, to be cherished, respected, appreciated. She & other figures like her make me smile & feel happier in my own body. She also reminds me that, contrary to what the fat hater love to claim, fat people are not a new invention.

  2. She means I won an argument. I trotted her out to someone who seemed to think that what he found attractive was the paleolithic, optimal, healthy ideal. He still assumes that fatness means a person has physical and/or emotional problems, but at least I haven’t seen him mention the stone age since.

    The Woman of Willendorf was clearly sculpted from a live model rather than someone’s imagination, but I suspect she’s another example of the same damn scam of making beauty rare. I bet very few women at that time could be that fat– she was “aspirational”.

    • Thanks for your comment, Nancy. You have a good point: in a time of food scarcity, her figure was probably rare. But I can’t fault the sculptor for creating what he/she likes.

  3. I’ve said exactly the same thing as you have about the Venus so many times I’ve lost count! I’ve heard people try to explain her away “oh, she’s an exaggerated portrayal of pregnancy from the pregnant woman’s pov, looking down at her own body”… it’s all crud. She looks like me; her figure is pretty much my figure. It’s clear to me that she was sculpted from a real live fat woman and I agree with Nancy, she was clearly aspirational too.

    I like her because she has many positive messages for me; the worries over weight are a fad, and fads change. Fat women can have the power of being at the top of the social pyramid. And to me she also epitomises the warm, soft, cuddly, mothering, caring part of Woman.

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