What a Wonderful Word Wednesday: Zaftig

Quick! Come up with five adjectives starting with the letter “z”!

If you’re anything like me, you didn’t get past three: Zany, zealous, and zesty. And I had to think for a WHILE to come up with those! (Got any others? Leave ’em in the comments section! I wonder how many we can round up…) Today I have another to add to our vocabulary arsenals: Zaftig (It may even count as two words, since it has an alternative spelling, zoftig. Bonus!) But what does zaftig mean?

Well, zaftig is an adjective meaning: (of a woman) slightly fat in an attractive way; having a full, rounded figure.


Putting That Wonderful Word to Work!

“Is that really what you want to look like?”

Jana tore her eyes away from the glossy pages under her fingertips. The fashion industry, she supposed, would be appalled by the stranger before her. She was everything society told her that she SHOULDN’T be, but she managed it so splendidly that Jana couldn’t help but stare in admiration. The smooth dark face gleamed without the faintest hint of makeup, adorned only by bright eyes and gleaming teeth. Her hair was a heavenly halo of untamed tiny curls, almost alive, dancing around her head with every word and laugh. Her vibrant, healthy body was beautiful and strong. She was fit and full: hips, arms, breasts and stomach. She filled her space with perfect grace, moved like a dance and laughed like a roaring downpour of joyful rain.

“Why is it,” she continued, “that when we see a workhorse or a dog so thin that its ribs and bones jut out at uneasy angles, we rush to alert The Humane Society, but when we see women in the same state we applaud and try to be exactly like them? Never made one bit of sense to me. It’s like my mama always said, ‘Be active, be happy, and eat real food! Your body shape will be what it was meant to be!’ My mama was a smart woman. She still is! I know a lot of people struggle with body images and food guilt these days but I’ve never been one of them. ‘But the guys won’t find you attractive.’ Is that what you’re thinking? First of all, I’ve never had ANY trouble in the department. Second, I don’t want a guy, I want a man. And third, I don’t need ALL the men to think I’m desirable. Just one. And I’ve got one who is crazy about me. That’s enough for me!”

“Besides, I almost never get sick. I have lots of energy, no cavities, healthy children… and I’ve had easy pregnancies. Those things have got to be a better measure of health than the size of my thighs, right? At least that’s what I think. I could be wrong, but when it comes to my body, I think it’s better to have a little extra money set back in savings than to live dollar-by-dollar, if you know what I mean! Some people tell me I have a beautiful face—we all know what that means—but I have a beautiful body, too. I couldn’t be a size 2; it just wouldn’t be right. It isn’t ME. I’ve got more substance than that, you know? It works for some people, but my frame was made to be full and I love every inch of it! Don’t try to copy other people, dear. Just treat your body well and enjoy life! You are already full of beauty.”

With another laugh, the zaftig beauty was gone, leaving Jana quite speechless.

Huh. Maybe she was right.

Jana looked down at the magazine. The figures were all pale, uniform, almost identical in an odd way. Their hairdos were the same. So were their boney bodies, clothing styles, blank eyes, empty smiles, painted faces and strange stances. Would she even be able to tell them apart if she met them on the street? All identifying features were shaved off, painted over, whittled down, covered up, straightened, operated on or photoshopped away…bye-bye eyebrows, birthmarks, moles, tooth variety, interesting noses and different body shapes. In the eyes of the magazine editor, everyone ought to mimic this mold. But what if fitting meant shrinking, breaking, dumbing down, choosing to be less? Could that really be beauty? The mysterious woman made Jana feel quite certain that her own “imperfections” may just be beauty marks in disguise.


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