From Botticelli’s Italian figures, to stick thin models like Kate Moss, definitions of beauty have changed drastically over the years.
But right now we live in a time when very thin women are seen as the ideal, a trend that some Indonesian women are railing against.
From Jakarta, Randyka Wijaya finds out more.
If slim women can do it, then so can I, Saktie Nugrahaning Widhi told herself.
“Initially the reason I took modeling is because this field was not for plus-size women. But some people are big. I thought, nothing is impossible. If slim women can model, so can we,” stated Saktie.
At 120 kilograms, Saktie is not the type of woman you would normally see on the catwalk. She started at first, because her friends would often ask her to model their products. Later she started to think seriously about modeling as a career.
“Initially people asked me to do photo shoots for plus-size products. And then more and more people started selling clothes for plus-size women,” Satkie explained.
Together with her two friends, Indrayati Silen and Meyta Dian Ward, they set up an agency called Big Beauty Model Management, an agency that provides plus-size models.
Since then, Saktie, 32, has also worked internationally, including modeling for an Australian brand called My Size.
Ririe Bogar, is the founder of the Xtra-Large Community, it’s a group that aims to improve the confidence of plus size women. Ririe saw this first hand when she ran a clothing boutique in South Jakarta. Instead of buying clothes, women would instead come and share their body image problems.
“They would think about how to get slim so people would like them,” recalls Ririe.
“They wanted to be slim so much, they forgot to be happy. Actually beauty has nothing to do with weight. I mean when we able to be ourselves, when we love ourselves, automatically our inner beauty comes through,” she said.
Ririe’s community started with about 10 people. Now, almost a decade later, there are 10 000 members.
The community holds fashion shows, talk shows and charity events to raise funds for the victims of natural disasters.
The group has also started networking with similar communities in other parts of the world, from the United States and Canada, who are members of The Fuller Woman International Network.
Standards of women’s beauty have changed drastically over time. In the 50s, it was the curves of Marilyn Monroe that women aspired to have.
These days the super skinny supermodel is the dominant body on the catwalks.
But Ririe says measuring women’s beauty by the size of their waist - reinforced by images from the multi-billion dollar cosmetic and fashion industry - is ridiculous.
“The industry and public perception are self reinforcing. Because the industry is also seeing what women like. And eventually the public mindset is formed by the industry. Women forget that they are already beautiful,” Ririe reflected.
In Indonesia the ideal woman is also seen as slim, with long hair and light skin. But in the future Ririe hopes there will be more plus size women walking on the catwalk.
“Now and abroad, they are already using large-sized models. So it may take time. But then there will be a moment when being beautiful will be seen not just a physical issue. The people who should change that are the activists who believe that beauty is not about size. We should fight this together,” said Ririe.
For Saktie, beauty is about something else entirely.
“If a woman is confident in herself, knows herself, knows what makes her happy, then she will be happy. A happy person is definitely a beautiful person,” Saktie concluded.