Nymphets In The Jufa

A funny thing happened to me one day in Austria. Having hiked up to a hütte that turned out not to be open for overnighting, and being too tired to reach the next one, I was driven by friendly locals to what they called a “youth hostel” down in the valley. This turned out to be not the traditional youth hostel at all, but a Jufa (acronym for Jugend und Familie), some hybrid of cheap spa and holiday camp, dominated by an indoor swimming pool, outdoor paddling pools and water slides. I was the only guest who was neither very young nor part of a family or school party, and so felt quite odd. A handful of adults were in charge of a horde of children and young teenagers running around and playing in the water. This was a sight to which I am not normally exposed, and so occasioned some observation and reflection.

Namely, that the various pubescent girls of presumably the same age appeared to belong to two quite separate species. Some were fat and awkward, while others were svelte and graceful, and at least two of these dressed and acted like miniature sex goddesses. (I doubt that the undulations and the semi-nudity in the restaurant were for my benefit, and there were no older teenage boys for them to dazzle, so I expect it was, so to speak, a purely abstract form of keeping in practice.) This reinforced my belief that regarding the concept of beauty as some sort of socially-constructed tyranny is simply insane; for the truth is that anatomy is destiny, but not in the original sense of that tag – the division between the beautiful and the ugly trumps the gender divide, begins in childhood and is pretty much unbridgeable. It all reminded me a bit of Picnic at Hanging Rock, though without the lace, the ignorance and the sublimation.

My elderly eyesight occasioned a further reflection. We are accustomed to being dogmatically informed that men fancy petite women because they really fancy children, see the critique of Sheridan Prasso above, but I wonder whether it is not instead the other way round, that the fancying of children is an accidental by-product of a taste for petite women. I would sometimes see a figure that I hoped was one of the supervising adults in a bikini, but who, on coming closer, was revealed as merely a child. This was a disappointment, not a pleasure. I can tell the difference – but only at less than a hundred metres.

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