Looking Back in Time: Ideal Female Body Types Throughout HistoryApr 12, 17
Most women do not naturally possess a curvy figure which resembles an hourglass or a celebrity like Scarlet Johansson which our modern times covet. Instead, there are many other body types that women possess like pear shape (bottom heavy), inverted triangle shape (top heavy), rectangular (minimum curves) or apple shape (round).
Throughout the human history, different types of women’s bodies have been idolized and different beauty tools have been adopted to achieve that desired look of the era. The changing look of the female body desired at different periods is proof that beauty is indeed subjective to the socio-cultural times and the evolution in tastes that the society goes through.
Ancient Egypt (around 1100 BC): The ideal female body type in this era was slender with narrow shoulders and a high waist. A slender symmetrical face was considered the most beautiful. Another interesting thing about this culture was its female independence and sex positivity where pre-marital sex was accepted and women could divorce their husbands without any shame.
Greek civilization (500-300 BC): In ancient Greece, women’s plump and full bodies were considered beautiful with ample bosoms, big backs and thick thighs and arms. Light skin was considered beautiful and contrary to most periods it was the male form that had to be perfect and sculpted.
Italian Renaissance (1400-1700 AD): Women in this period were considered beautiful when they had light skin and light colored hair along with chubby bodies which had rounded features. In that age, aristocratic women reflected their wealth in their outward appearances where light and rounded bodies were considered signs of superiority.
Victorian England/Edwardian Era (1837-1901): Plump and hourglass shapes with a big chest and cinched in waist were regarded as desirable. Women wore waist training corsets and other tight fitting undergarments to create the perception of the hourglass shape and gradually work on the waist. Queen Victoria was considered the most significant female personality of the time and this era lasted until the end of her reign in England.
Twenties era (1920s): This era saw a 360 turn where women’s desired body shape was not plump anymore. In this period, a boyish figure was admired with the chest downplayed with different bra styles and curves hidden through clothing. A short bob haircut was a signature of the time’s beauty to complete the androgynous look and break the long hair stereotype.
Hollywood era (1930s-1950s): This era was the peak of the hourglass figurehourglass figure where accentuated curves, big breasts and a slim waist were made popular and sexy by women like Marilyn Monroe who slashed out the boyish figure trend.
Sixties (1960s): Popular culture and Hollywood once again brought back a thin petite figured trend where women with less accentuated curves and thin delicate bodies with long legs were shown as beautiful.
Eighties’ fitness model look (1980s): A shift was seen again in the desirable female body as sporty and curvy looks became the epitome of the era’s beauty. Tall, toned but healthy was considered the hot body type. The time period also brought with it the workout craze where the thin and fit look was encouraged. But this time also saw a spike in anorexia which the experts thought was the result of the exercise rage.
Nineties waifish look (1990s): Very thin, a little androgynous and a frail appearance was the look of the decade with models like Kate Moss iconizing it. Grunge style hobo chic was the coolest look that all women adopted.
2000s beauty: The beauty standard for today is not just the highest than all the other era’s but also quite unrealistic, resulting in an unprecedented spike in plastic surgeries, implants and other desperate measures by women to achieve a very curvy look with large breasts and butt, small waist and thin body. Kim Kardashian is one of the examples of this perfect hourglass body. The reality TV star also popularized waist training which she claims has helped her with her famous curvy body and big rear.
Waist trainers are modern versions of corsets made with a much more streamlined design that serves its purpose more efficiently than the Edwardian corsets. Waist trainers are much safer to use than many other surgical procedures that are out there today while being easy on the pocket, which is why they have become the choice of countless women who want to achieve the modern hourglass figure.