WOMEN who are terrorized by tape measures and scales know that there is nothing relaxing about this kind of fight. The result is apparent: a race among women to be thinner and considerably younger. You see the price paid in tension, harassment and preoccupation.

If she cannot diet nor exercise, she is lost to fashion. Any woman familiar with clothes in larger sizes knows that if you have to get into these, you might as well give up. They are the shrouds of sex, the sacraments of abdication.

Now this is nonsense. There is no reason why a woman, who is either heavier or broader than an adolescent and falls outside the dimension of a slender girl, cannot be dressed both fashionably and seductively.

Designers and dress manufacturers could see to it—if they wanted to. It would militate against the hacksters of exercise, the slenderizing salons, fat farms and pill producers of the nation. A woman could be attractive without their help.

You can whittle her down to a certain size and let the dictates of fashion take her pocketbook and peace of mind. For this dubious praise, “you’re losing weight, dear!,“ she sacrifices one of the greatest pleasures of life: eating good food.

To anyone who appreciates this delight, it is pathetic to see the sight of a woman declining a fine cream sauce, a baked potato or crème brûlée. It is more displeasing than admirable—if not insulting to the cook! I am sure that a man’s pleasure in asking a woman to dinner is diminished by this self-serving abstinence. He might, if given a chance, settle for a few more pounds and a little more gusto, unless he is the kind of man who prefers mannequins over women. In which case, he isn’t worth bothering about in the first place.

As they say, the men talk of gain (money), while the women talk of loss (weight). I do not know which is more boring.

The first thing a woman looks at in another woman is her waistline. “You’re a little thinner, dear, aren’t you?” is the ultimate compliment. The ultimate insult: “Have you been putting on a little weight, dearie?” For me, I consider both in bad taste, since they are not the business of the speakers.

A woman’s shape and size are entirely her affairs. If she’s happy and hippy, she should be left alone. Some of art’s greatest nudes have been fleshy, wide and beautiful. And based on experience, their radiance was the reflection of masculine appreciation. It is only fairly recently that men are supposed to prefer the bony splendor of the pelvis cradle.

I am not defending obesity nor doubting the beauty of a slim young body. I do not take issue with the same prevailing conviction that there is only one acceptable feminine outline for all ages of her life. If you like the grotesque mammalian exaggeration from certain film stars, then basically no beauty of face, excitement of the mind or warmth of spirit can excuse or nullify the “sin” of widened posterior.

Have fun, eat well and be kind to your fellow. And the next time a woman makes a remark on your weight, tell her what she can do with it!

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