On Instagram, for instance, selfies taken in exhibitions of Botero’s work and reproductions of his paintings are often captioned with hashtags like #bodyconfidence, #curvyandproud, and #effyourbeautystandards.
Books that have become the body positive movement’s gospel mention Botero, too. In her essay “Fierce Fat Fashion” in The Politics of Size: Perspectives from the Fat Acceptance Movement, Cathy Miller asks: “So, what can help you in the quest to learn to love your body?” Her answer: “Surround yourself with positive images of differently sized large bodies” and “revel in the wonderful, sensual art of Botero.”
Botero, of course, is by no means the only artist to depict shapely subjects.
, whose work inspired Botero and is also mentioned in Miller’s essay, filled his massive 17th-century religious and mythological paintings with the fleshy, curvaceous bodies of goddesses and cherubs—paragons of beauty and virtue.
Notable, too, are the Paleolithic-era Venus figurines. Each of these palm-sized figures, such as Venus of Willendorf, Venus of Lespugue, and Venus of Hohle Fels, depicts a naked women with swelling breasts, protruding thighs, and, under a curve of belly, an exposed vulva. Their original function continues to be the subject of scholarly debate—historians have called them fertility icons, a form of prehistoric porn, or shamanistic talismans—but the general consensus is that these full-bodied figurines were venerated, even idolized.