The following recent question has attracted some very unpleasant (and unfair to my judgement) comments regarding the issue it is about ('curvy' referring to women) and the Curvy Convention link whose content was said to be more appropriate for one of those sites rather than ELU. To avoid futher comments and asking myself if I had in any possible way offended anybody's sensibility, I decided to remove it.

I'd like to understand from a wider audience of users if the subject treated may be offensive or appear obscene to anyone. Is the question poorly framed as to induce any 'ambiguous' consideration? Should similar subjects (that touch on sex or sensuality) be avoided in this site?

When and why did women become "curvy"?

A term that has been recently spreading also outside the English speaking world, especially, but not only, in the field of fashion is curvy. E.g. Curvy Convention 2015, Models on the Catwalk.

Curvy is an adjective that means 'full of curves' whose usage dates back to the beginning of the 20th century (1902), according to Etymonline.

Later in the century, apparently around the 60's (see Ngram) the term started to be used to refer to women with the meaning:

  • (informal) of a woman’s figure, shapely and voluptuous. (ODO)


When was the term first introduced and in what context (Hollywood movies, TV shows , politics)?

Was it initially used as a more 'neutral' and 'politically correct' alternative to terms like 'voluptuous' or to more common but less nice terms like 'fatty' for instance?

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    I liked this question, and would like to see it restored. I don't see anything pornographic or even risqué about it.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 9:52
  • Can you give a link to the deleted question (I missed it before, but would like to see it to judge better)
    – Mitch
    Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 13:01
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    I thought it was a good question and did not feel that the term is sexual or profane in nature. There was a time when the word "belly" was seen as almost obscene, along with any other explicit reference to overweightness. Nowadays one can refer to a man simply as being fat (instead of rotund/corpulent) and not expect to shock people. I think the evolution of these terms is both interesting and deserving of a question. Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 13:48
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    Hmm, whatever objectionable comments had originally appeared on that question, it seems they've been deleted. It's no longer clear who objected to the question originally, or why. Maybe that person had a change of heart. I say re-open!
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 13:50
  • 5
    The question is totally appropriate. It can also certainly be interpreted as tendentious but I think you've been careful to word it right. Like profanity or sex, we should be able to discuss the words rationally as long as the interest isn't simply prurient (we can't wash away all the prurience, just try not to humor it). I've voted to undelete.
    – Mitch
    Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 15:16
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    A better title: Etymology of curvy to describe the feminine figure and the reason behind it? As it stands, it's easy for the reader to insert words and assume nefarious intentions of the poster. Start with the word etymology and all the knee-jerk kiddies will completely ignore the post. Another way someone might read your title: When did all women become so damn fat? - Houston, we have a problem.
    – Mazura
    Commented Sep 28, 2015 at 2:44
  • @Mazura - I guess you are making a good point. I changed it.
    – user66974
    Commented Sep 28, 2015 at 6:26
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    It's downright alluring in red italics. Prepare for HNQ injection... That's the good part of a full length article I wrote; yours upon request.
    – Mazura
    Commented Sep 28, 2015 at 6:39
  • @Mazura LOL :) Good suggestion for the title BTW
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Sep 28, 2015 at 8:56

2 Answers 2


I'm an older woman. I was a bra-burning, dyed-in-the-wool, Betty-Freidan/Gloria-Steinem-quoting feminist applying to medical school when my interviewers would ask outright, "Why should we let you in (yes, using those words) when you're probably going to take time off to raise a family? A man will practice 20 years longer than you will."

All that to say that if something about women might be offensive, I'd snap like the lash of a whip.

Gotta say, I can't find any hint of blood boiling within me at your question. To me, that question is about as insulting to women as is commenting on the weather.

  • 3
    Just ask someone what their favorite season is. Then you'll see how judgmental people can be. What kind of crazy person would like that kind of weather?
    – Mitch
    Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 2:24

Good heavens, I had to reread the question twice as I found it bewildering. I find it hard to imagine that anyone might find the question offensive. I'm a middle aged programmer, but I like to think I'm pretty sensitive to women's issues -- at least my wife would say that I am. I frequently have to chastise my blatantly sexist colleagues, so I'd even say I care about such things.

Side note, I found Mazura's tile suggestion a real improvement.

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