The definition of what is considered ideal for body size changes from generation to generation, much like fashion. Historically, those with a little extra padding around their middle were usually considered wealthy, healthy, and blessed; those who could afford to, ate, and ate extravagantly.
This was certainly true during the era of the Georges, from the arrival of the First on England’s shores in August of 1714, to the death of the portly well favored Fourth in 1830. A man’s (and some women’s) castle seemed to be found in his middle.
Victualling Office (noun)
A sound argument could be made that throughout the Georgian era, much sartorial emphasis was placed on the middle of a man’s torso. In point of fact, author Lucinda Brant has an entire Pinterest board devoted to precisely that: The 18th Century Power Paunch. A man’s victualling office was front and center in portrait after portrait, in elaborate waistcoats embellished with lace and myriad fobs. The quintessential “if you’ve got it, flaunt it” poster children.
So how did the well-healed become so paunchy? Glad you asked. Let’s consult the Supersizers as they Go Regency.
- Slang term found in the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.