A while back, someone (I can’t remember who) asked me something about images of Aphrodite, Greek goddess of beauty and love. Weren’t they always thin and conventionally beautiful? Wasn’t that a problem?
Well, I said, sure, images of her are generally conventionally beautiful, but only by the standards of the cultures they come out of. And individual artists have often depicted her as their ideal of beauty, whether the culture they lived in agreed or not. Sure, there aren’t many images of her as OMGDETHFATZ (and those are all modern), but that doesn’t mean she looked like a 21st century supermodel to ancient eyes.
Here’s a quick survey of ancient images of the Goddess of Beauty:
A statue looted from Sicily. NOT SKINNY!
Aphrodite of Knidia (Cnidos), by the famous Praxiteles (Roman copy), who has a belly and dimples in her back
The Lely Venus, with, like, folds and rolls and stuff. And important influences on Rubens.
Image from a calyx krater, attributed to Python. Distinctly plump, with the start of a second chin.
Image from a volute krater, attributed to the Underworld Painter. Aphrodite is on the right, holding the myrtle wreath. Nice hips, Lady!
Imperial Roman mosaic from Phillipopolis. Speaking of hips! The Romans liked pear-shaped women, apparently.
And really, from a Pagan standpoint, gods can look however they want to look, and will often choose shapes tailored to the person to whom they appear. If Aphrodite were to show herself to me, she’d probably be pretty fat.