The first time I stumbled across a reference to Raphael as an angel, I was surprised. I had thought for the first dozen and a half years of my life that Raphael was an artist who sometimes painted angels. Back in the 16th century, Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino began the trend of one-name artists that continues today. And it is still as annoying now as it was then. Lots of people were named “Raphael” in the 16th century, and even more today.
Turns out, Raphael is also an angel whose name may or may not translate into “God’s healing” or some variation thereof.
When I adapted the name, Raphael, into one of my more mystic characters, it is the healing that interested me. That and the paintings that filled several art history classes I enjoyed in my university days.
To me, Raphael will forever be the painter who depicted healthy women and plump babes in his madonna paintings as well as choruses of cherubs looking so thoughtful while often shooting arrows at naked people. I understand the sentiment.
Raphael would not have understood this modern world’s obsession with wraith thin women. Any sign of hips, busts, and buttocks, and we are considered unseemly, unattractive in this space and time. Many women literally torture themselves to keep themselves bone thin. I was one of them. A thing of my youth I do not miss.
A bit of fat in the 16th century was beauty, and good health. Of course, there were no fashion magazines and social media bombarding people with impossible scions to which to aspire.
Raphael would no more have painted me in my anorexic youth than Twiggy. Now in my late middle years, I could be the model for one of his famed madonna pictures. And I really appreciate that about the 16th centuries ideal for beauty. I like cake and still feel crippling guilt whenever I eat it. May the angel, Raphael, cure me of this so that I can feel good about looking more like the woman in a 16th century painting than a photoshopped slender woman on the cover of some supermarket rag.