When it comes to fashion, things go in and out of style from decade to decade. The same can be said for the idealize female body. Looking back over the last century, what has been considered attractive has changed drastically. While some of the changes have been more subtle and some have been more dramatic, it’s crazy to see how much everything has shifted over time. The ideal body type for woman often reflects how society views women in general, and that will influence who becomes a celebrity. Here is how the idealize female body type has changed in the past century.
The Gibson Girl Of The 1910s
In the 1910’s, publishing photographs was a lot more expensive than it is today. That’s why at the time, illustrators were hired by companies to create ads for their products. One of the best known illustrators was Charles Dana Gibson, whose illustrations of women in corsets and dresses gave them the signature hourglass figure and a straight posture that became known as the Gibson Girls.
Camille Clifford was a model and actress who was one of the most well known Gibson Girls illustrations of the time. She was known for her wasp waist that measured at just 18 inches and was achieved by using a very tight corset beneath her long gown.
The Flapper Of The Roaring ‘20s
The 1920’s ushered in the era of the Flappers, which was a huge departure from the Gibson Girls of the previous decade. Flappers wore loose dresses, had short hair, and accessorized with hats. The 19th Amendment was ratified at this time, finally allowing women to vote and changing every aspect of life..
In 1921, Margaret Gorman was crowned Miss America. She was the embodiment of the ideal woman of the time, which was long, lean, and boyish. This marked a complete shift from the exaggerate hourglass figure of the 1910s.
The Soft Siren Of The ‘30s
After the Roaring Twenties came to an end, the 1930s saw another shift is body type. After the stock market crashed, woman went back to wear form fitting dresses that followed a more classically feminine style as opposed to the flappers’ boxy dresses.
Dolores Del Rio
Dolores Del Rio was the epitome of old Hollywood glamour and the ideal body type of the decade. Photoplay magazine called her “roundly turned,” and “warmly curved.” The Mexican starlet was considered to be the Hollywood star with the best figure at the time.
The Star-Spangled Girl Of The ‘40s
After WWII, everything change once again, as is expected in a post-war world. The 1940s saw a huge change in Americans’ lives, and that impacted fashion as well. Long limbs and broad shoulders became the most desirable and the torpedo/bullet bra was quite popular at the time.
Betty Grable represented everything that was the ideal woman of the 1940s. She was also one of the most popular pinup girls of the time, and her photo was very commonly seen inside military men’s footlockers.
The Hourglass Figure Of The ‘50s
While curves were in style during the 1940s, the 1950s saw a more exaggerated body type that is reminiscent of the Gibson Girls’ waists. The hourglass shape was fully back, and shtrong shoulders and straight hips were out once again. Magazines would even advertise weight gainers for wider hips.
Marilyn Monroe is the first woman to come to mind when it comes to the ideal female body type of the 50’s. She embodied this so much that her name has become synonymous with the phrase “sex symbol,” and she continues to be relevant to this day.
The Twig Of The ‘60s
After the decade that celebrated fuller curvy figures, the 1960’s once again took things in the opposite direction. Once lauded, the hourglass once again fell out of favor and now long, thing body types were the style. Narrow hips, small waists, and long figures were now what was most desired.
Lesley Lawson, better known as “Twiggy” is a model that changed everything when she came onto the scene. Her rail thin body type became the new most coveted body type, changing the landscape of fashion for decades to come.
The Disco Diva Of The ‘70s
Although the rail-thin style of the 60’s was not out of style, another style became more prominent in the 70’s. The curvier body types were not as extreme as the ones in the 50s, but here we see a more balanced out body. The disco divas accentuated their curves with amazing disco outfits.
Some of the most famous ladies of the 1970’s are the actresses of Charlie’s Angels. Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson, and Jaclyn Smith all had the ideal body type of long, lean, and curvaceous of the decade and went on to become some of the most famous women of the time.
The Supermodel Of The ‘80s
After the 1970’s ended, the 1980’s became the era of the “supermodel,” which was a titled reserved for models with long legs that made them taller than average. You could not turn on MTV during this time without seeing this body type all over the place.
Standing at just under 6 feet tall, Rachel Hunter is a supermodel that towers over most other people, including her ex Rod Stewart. Those who were around in this decade will recall Hunter on the cover of Sports Illustrated and many others. She was also in several music videos.
Elle Macpherson is one of the top models of the 1980’s. Her body type was the epitome of the 80’s, so that she was even referred by Time magazine to as “The Body” in 1989. Years later, Macpherson is still one of the top performing models in the industry, even appearing on the 2014 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition looking as stunning as ever.
The Waif Of The ‘90s
In the 1990’s, we saw another dramatic shift in body type, away from curves and back to hyper-thin body types. The 90’s favorited the waif-like thin bodies with minimal curves, a look that was referred to as “heroin chic.” This look was the complete opposite from the supermodels of the 80’s.
Kate Moss is the poster child of the waif body type of the decade. She became a star after her work with Calvin Klein was published. When people wonder about how the size-0 trend began, many will point to her success. In 2012, she was the second highest earning model, earning $9.2 million just that year.
Another symbol of the waifish body type is Winona Ryder, who was at the height of fame during this decade. Funnily enough, both Kate Moss and Winona Ryder were linked to actor Johnny Depp at the time, so it seems like this body type was his ideal as well.
The Buff Beauty Of The 2000s
The new millennium brought in a new body type, and now the rail thin body type was no longer the top body. Now, the athletic body type was welcomed, and we saw celebrities on magazine covers with chiseled abs and curvier bodies than those of the 1990’s.
Gisele Bundchen created a brand new supermodel body type: long legs, tall, and athletic. The Brazilian beauty was the highest paid model in the world for years. She has been called one of the “most influential people in fashion,” as well as one of the “most beautiful women in the world.”
The Booty Babe Of The 2010s
As the 2010s arrived, the time of the curvaceous booties began. Beyonce helped made this body type popular and it makes sense considering one of Destiny’s Child’s most popular songs is “Bootylicious.” The curves of earlier years came back but with an emphasis on booties and hips.
Barbadian singer and businesswoman Rihanna is one of the most successful artists of all time. She’s known for amazing voice, incredible body, and killer style. In addition to all of that, she has became a self-made billionaire thanks to her wildly successful fashion and makeup company.
Of course, when it comes to this body type, Kim Kardashian is often credited with helping make the booty as popular as it is. Now, many women will have cosmetic procedures in order to achieve the Kardashian booty.
Jennifer Lopez has a song called “Booty,” since she is also known for her incredible curves. Jenny from the block is known for strong body even years into her career.
Nicki Minaj is one of the most successful rappers of all time and has become an icon in her own right. Not only is she known for her rap skills, she’s also known for her daring style that accentuates her curves.
These days, it’s less common for women to all want to conform to just one body type that has been deemed the ideal of the time. Maybe the decline of magazines and rise of the internet has contributed to this, but it doesn’t seem like just one body type is reigning supreme nowadays.
The increased popularity of the idea of body positivity has also created a shift in the way people perceive women’s bodies. The concept encourages women of all sizes, shapes, colors, and background to feel confident and beautiful without having to struggle to fit one ideal type that has been determined by someone else.
A lot of companies have changed their marketing style to shift towards more body positive messaging. Companies like Aerie have chosen to forgo photoshop and showcase models of diverse looks in their ads. They don’t retouch them and they keep their “imperfections” that make them human in a campaign called #AerieREAL.
Photoshop Vs. Reality
Perhaps a more natural look came into style because of the massive amount of photoshopped images we were exposed to throughout the 2000s. You can see how much magazines altered celebrities’ faces in order to try to sell more magazines. In the meantime, they were also selling unrealistic expectations for women around the globe.
Instagram Vs. Reality
Social media platforms like Instagram have endless options of filters to add to photos in order to change the way we look. A lot of images make us look unrecognizable, and contribute to body dysmorphia and helping perpetuate unrealistic beauty ideals that run rampant in the world.
Dramatic filters are not the only way that our images can be changed online. Many people make subtle changes and tweaks to their faces with apps like FaceTune, and while these are not as dramatic, they do give the idea that people’s real faces are still not good enough.
Makeup Vs. No Makeup
One popular social media trend is to post photos with and without makeup to show just how much makeup can change your look as well as to help promote self-acceptance.
Beyond makeup, many people choose to alter their faces and bodies through cosmetic procedures, many times changing their look completely. Now, it is also very common for younger people to begin getting injections and fillers.
Cosmetic procedures are nothing new, as people have been altering the way they look for years. In China, the ancient tradition of foot binding saw young girls forcing their feet into tiny shoes that would change the shape and size of their feet in order to make them smaller, pointier, and more doll-like.
Double Eyelid Surgery
Many Asian countries try to adhere to Western beauty ideals, which means that a lot of intervention is needed to do this. A common procure that is performed often in countries like South Korea is the double eyelid surgery, which makes people’s natural eye-shape look more like Western people’s eyes.
French Beauty Ideals
In France, one of the beauty ideals used to include the “three white things” that are: having white teeth, white hands, and white skin. There are also the “three black things” referring to eyelashes and eyebrows. Now, the beauty ideal is less focused on physical appearance and more on a person’s personal style.
A lot of non-Western countries look towards the West to determine was is considered to be beautiful. This causes a lot of people to want to whiten their skin, with a lot of creams, serums, and even cosmetic procedures becoming popular in order to lighten skin.
Future Beauty Ideals
We can’t know what the future will bring in terms of beauty ideals, but we can infer that some styles will inevitably come back into style, as they have so many times throughout history. Which trends do you wish to see return, and which do you think should be retired forever?