A Look into 100 years of “Ideal Bodies”
A few days back, I came across how the “ideal body” has changed in the last 100 years. And I realized that ideal body types are quite similar to a pair of jeans; when we finally decide to try out wide-legged ones, they go out of style. Better to enjoy and love the body (and jeans) we have, right?
Here are the kinds of bodies that have been declared “ideal” and “perfect” over the years.
The 1400s to 1700s
The Italian Renaissance valued pleasure and fertility. The ideal body type had fuller breasts and hips, a round stomach, and light skin. A body that could give birth was considered perfect. Such a body type was also believed to have been made by men for men.
Between the 1830s and 1900s
There wasn’t much of a change in the Victorian Era. Think of it as a continuation of the Italian Renaissance, now paired with weak, fragile, and pale features. The ideal body was still plump and fuller, but with a cinched corset to achieve an hourglass shape. However, what came after was a revolution.
After what might be called a man’s dream, came an “ideal” body type dictated by women. For a decade, the “perfect” body was defined by flat-chested clothes, a bob haircut, and concealed curves. It is believed that this body type was their way of expressing strength. However, even this didn’t last long.
The 1930s through 1950s
It’s the Hollywood era, ladies! The hourglass figure and full breasts were back, and this time they were accompanied by slim waists. And while it sounds like this standard would’ve continued to haunt women, it took a different turn yet again.
Unlike in the Hollywood era, ideal beauty for women in the 1960s was mellow. Delicate, petite, and slim were the standards set for that year. And as women stepped into 1970, there was even more pressure to maintain narrower hips and flat stomachs.
This year was when the whole “skinny but also fit” idea got famous. The “ideal” body looked tall, athletic, curvy, and toned. Even muscles (for the first time) became “acceptable” and desirable for women in the 1980s.
The androgynous look came back, but with a hint of neglection and fragility. This year, women ditched their fitted pants in favour of slouchy ones and found comfort in oversized sweaters.
From the 2000s to the present
I don’t want to list the current beauty standards or the ideal body type because now, we know better than to succumb our minds and bodies to ideals that will change anyway. Let 2021 and forward be the years of no ideals.