Title: Curvology; Author:
It may seem only a preoccupation of curious adolescents or a subject of adult male titillation, but the obsession over the female body is present throughout any modern society - magazine covers and advertisements are a good indication. But is a particular female form - curvy is the customary popular term - a random tural occurrence, or does it have a deeper objective? And what makes for the keen interest?
Surprisingly the answers don’t lie in ture’s whimsies, or lust or a sort of voyeurism, but in the human body’s mysterious workings, the subtle but logical processes of human evolution and the key human instinct for the propagation and survival of the species. And to prove his contention, David Bainbridge marshals many convincing arguments and considerable research, both scientific and social.
A reproductive biologist and clinical veteriry atomist at Cambridge University, he trained as a veteriry surgeon but has studied various facets of human life, including pregncy, the genetic underpinnings of sex, the teege period, middle age - all which he has presented in a series of popular science books.
On his motivation, Bainbridge says there were “two simple observations which spurred me to study the female body shape” - first the fact that humans are the “only species in existence with curvy females, and this bizarre uniqueness demands an explation”, and then “that women think about their bodies more, and in fundamentally more complex ways, than men think about theirs”. And he sets out to “discover where all this came from..”
Divided into three parts, the first concentrates on the “bodily biology of womanliness”, where he explains how they ended with their “unusual shape”, how each young woman becomes that way, the “dramatic variations” and the body shape’s effect of health and fertility, and the second how the body affect the mind - of what it means to ‘inhabit’ or desire one, and how “modern women negotiate the conflicting pressures of food, mood and shape”.
Thirdly, he takes up the body’s relationship with the outside world or “how different cultures and social environments judge, modify, conceal, celebrate and condemn the female body”, for a “combined physical-mental-societal” understanding makes it possible to explain the obsession - and its implications.
Even reaching out for this book, let being seen reading it publicly, can seem a potentially embarrassing, or liable to invite trouble from feminists or moralists. But like Bainbridge, take the risk of being deemed a “biased voyeur” rather than a “dispassiote observer” and let yourself amazed by the process and paths of human life, and how it adapts to the conditions of the millieu it inhabits. (IANS)