TIME WARP: 1919 Article Proclaims The Rise Of The ‘Stylish Stout’

Ah, 1919. The year the League of Nations was founded, prohibition was instituted, and women were given the right to vote. Also, apparently, the year obesity came “into its own.”

Prompted by an advertisement with the slogan “Stylish Stouts”, a journalist for The Atlantic proclaimed the dawning of a new era in the February 1919 issue, one in which men and women of a certain girth could in fact be deemed de rigueur. He writes:

Is it possible that the stout woman, poor dear, has at last become stylish? May she at last be frankly fat, emancipated from the frantic remodelings at the hands of corsetière and couturière?

If designers make stylish clothing suited to larger women, he argues, they will finally have the chance to flaunt their fashionable selves:

The corpulent dame now has dresses made to exhibit, not to conceal, her shapeliness; these throng authentic fashion-sheets. She has her own clothes, not the adapted ‘line’ of the lean and lovely sylph. The fat woman is no longer done out of her inheritance by a cruel and carping world. She has become a ‘stylish stout.’

But it was not only women that would get to enjoy the heady freedoms of this new epoch:

No chivalrous woman will be content with her privilege of obesity without wanting men to share it. In due time the fat man, like the fat woman, will be made heroic in fiction and in fashion-plate. The day of the fat lady was long in dawning, but at last her freedom and her fashionableness have arrived.

We shudder to think what this optimistic journalist would have to say about of the not-so-evolved state of today’s fashion industry, with its “plus-size” size 8s and studies calling for bans on too-skinny models.

[The Atlantic]

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