'Barbie'; 22.000 BC
‘Barbie’; 22.000 BC. (Venus of Willendorf: not really pink)

Blaming Barbie, model, celeb or simply modern society for your own insecurity? Lets blame the primitive part of our brain that made us evolve. Without it we wouldn’t have been here, wondering about Kardashian butts (wuds?).

This blog-post is about the origin of aesthetic ideals. About it being a thing we created ourselves, to survive and to evolve.

We shouldn’t blame Barbie, porn, magazines, commercial adds and whoever is famous for being beautiful or simply having a hot-bod for our own insecurities or worse: being unhappy. 

30.000 years ago we had a stone carving to blame/look up to. It tells me it’s just a primitive and rooted inbuilt reaction we have to…  motivate us to evolve. As human kind, but also personally, for ourselves. 

As I stated in my other post about Body Image, “Standards of ‘the ideal body’ existed since we existed. We’ve always been creating this superficial body image to adore (even worship).” 

I said that with the ‘Venus* of Willendorf’ in mind. It’s one of the oldest 3 dimensional images we know of: a short female figure with big thighs, bum, huge breasts and…. the face didn’t seem to matter (‘butterface’). This 12 cm figure is estimated to be made 22.000-24.000 BC (think about it. Cleopatra lived 69 BC. The time between us and miss Cleo is 2100 years. The time between Cleopatra and this little figurine is at least 20.000 years). This little statue is small because we were nomads; we had to carry everything we owned.

Venus of Dolni Vestonic, 29.000-24.000BC ; the oldest excavated 'Venus'
Venus of Dolni Vestonic, 29.000-24.000BC ; the oldest excavated ‘Venus’

So many similar ‘big’ female figurines have been found, dated between 20.000-29.000 BC, of different types of stone (the type of stone shows us in what region it was made), that its safe to say this little paleolithic Venus was a common image for thousands of years, in nearly all places where we Neanderthals traveled.



There are many theories about the function of these figurines; some even think it was for children to play with, because a child’s fingerprint has been discovered in the surface of the oldest: the ‘Venus of Dolci Vestonic’. Was she the first Paleolithic Barbie?

To me it’s obvious this figurine has more to do with sex (and fertility). That fingerprint? –I rather like the idea of a cave-kid having secretly stolen it from dad, like many boys used to do with dads ‘adult magazines’ in our era ; ) .

The most common and accepted theory of the function of this Venus is, not surprisingly, it indeed being an amulet (taliswoman) symbolizing sex, fertility and success.

That tells us that the imagery of unrealistic body-forms being the ideal, has been the status quo ever since we could talk, even before we knew what a ‘home’ was; we did know what sex and fertility was and found a commonly recognized image to symbolize it.



Unrealistic body image

Hips, belly and breasts have always been directly connected to fertility and therefore sex (the connection between all is pretty obvious). The bigger, the more, the better (in fact it still is in a lot of non-western cultures). But there’s more to it: being ‘big’ in prehistoric times would mean you were living on safe and fertile grounds; conditions that were very hard to find in prehistoric times.

A woman with proportional sizes we find in the talis(wo)man statuettes wouldn’t have survived for very long;

  • How can anyone get so fat eating only berries and the occasional meat our men could hunt down?
  • We were nomads. No sheltered safe homes. No-way a big woman could’ve kept up with walking miles and miles searching for fertile ground or be running for danger.

It was impossible to get that ‘big’. And even if you did, you wouldn’t have survived for very long.


Hence, it is logical to assume this ‘famous’, longterm- and widely-known image of this big woman was not an image of the average woman living back then. A huge proportioned woman would have been worshiped (by both men AND women), for she was endowed in the best way to bare and survive having many children and would’ve lived in a paradise (safe, warm, green, with a lot of lame Mammoths to easily hunt down). These were circumstances of which an average Neanderthal could only dream of.  A lot of women would probably have loved to look like a ‘Venus of Willendorf’ (it would’ve attracted even the highest-ranked men in the pack ; ) ). 



ANYWAY;  no, the ‘ideal unrealistic body-image’ isn’t a new thing and it’s not a reason to blame modern society for unrealistic or unhealthy aesthetic ideals. It’s just us. We created them right after we learnt to walk and talk. However we don’t consciously realize it, they are symbols for the things we actually need, want or dream of (not how we are supposed to BE at that moment in time; we make them up to be able to dream and go forth). It’s how we were able to evolve! Commerce has found a way to use that basic principle. But that isn’t a new thing either. More about that another time.

I feel it’s important to understand these things, when feeling troubled or insecure about your body and comparing yourself too much with the unrealistic (fake) world around you (in commercials and other media). There are many reasons for it existing. Call it ‘a higher purpose’ we created ourselves, to survive and evolve. We have always used these things as a motivation to reach higher goals, also personally. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you set the goals to a level you can reach within your lifetime (not 24.000 years ). Just saying: stay realistic, get the best out of yourself.  Do a little evolving in your own life without wanting to be a superficial creation once made of stone. Cause that wasn’t the point in the first place.

Enjoy life. Knowing what influences it and why, helps us understand who we are and why. It helps us understand we are not insecure because of outside influences, but just want to improve our life because of an inside driven factor we’ve always had. It’s how we got where we are, now, 30.000 years after making our first sculpture.