My 2016 book on obesity needed a cover. I chose Peter Paul Rubens’ painting ‘Venus in Front of the Mirror’ (c. 1613/1614). Wanting to promote my free, self-published book on Facebook, I set up a Facebook page. I hit upon a problem.
Prudish Facebook censored my cover and said I needed to replace it with a more acceptable image! I had to redesign the cover by deleting parts of the painting that, according to Facebook’s rules, counted as excessive nudity. Apologies Peter Paul Rubens, but Facebook says your painting from 400 years ago is too rude to publish!
It is said that Peter Paul Rubens presented his ‘Venus in Front of the Mirror’ as an ultimate symbol of beauty. Venus is aware of the viewer in a mirror that frames her face like a portrait.
My theory of obesity includes the hypothesis that the stigma and dissatisfaction that people classed as ‘obese’ feel can produce a vicious ‘circle of discontent’ leading to comfort eating of fatty foods. In wishing to resist these social pressures, my theory advocates anti-stigmatisation and affordable, healthy foods in the supermarket.
Rubens’ painting is in the collection of the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna (oil on panel, height 123 cm, width 98 cm.) The painting featured on a joint stamp by Austria and Liechtenstein issued to mark the new artistic attraction of Austria’s capital.
The joint issue of Liechtenstein and Austria was released simultaneously in both countries on the 3rd of March 2005. Prof. Wolfgang Seidel from St. Martin am Wöllmissberg designed the stamp and has done full justice to Rubens’ artistic mastery in his steel engraving reproduction. (Source: Briefmarken aus dem Fürstentum Liechtenstein, 7. März 2005).
Don’t tell that to Facebook!