How The Ideal Female Body Type Has Changed In The Last 100 Years

Published on 10/26/2020
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Anyone can tell you that fashion trends come and go. There are times when it does not even take a year before something fades into obscurity! Pinterest boards can hardly keep up with the ebb and flow of the fashion industry. But garments are not the only things that seem to fluctuate in terms of popularity. It feels like the female body also goes through trends and fads. Over the years, magazines show us what is considered hot and not. There is often a famous female celebrity who is deemed to be the epitome of beauty in that era. Let us go back in time to see how the “ideal” body type of women has changed over the course of a century.

How The Ideal Female Body Type Has Changed In The Last 100 Years

How The Ideal Female Body Type Has Changed In The Last 100 Years

The Gibson Girl Of The ’10s

In the past, it was too costly to publish photos on the pages of magazines. Back then, companies would hire illustrators to bring their point across. Charles Gibson was a particularly famous women’s magazine illustrator. The artist created the piece that you are looking at! He depicted wealthy women wearing tight corsets that gave them an hourglass figure and a ramrod-straight posture.

The Gibson Girl Of The ’10s

The Gibson Girl Of The ’10s

Camille Clifford Was A Gibson Girl In The Flesh

When it comes to the topic of the Gibson Girl, Camille Clifford was considered the real-life version. She joined a contest that aimed to find someone who looked like a Charles Gibson drawing. In the end, she won! The judges thought that she looked more like the illustrations than any of the other candidates.

Camille Clifford Was A Gibson Girl In The Flesh

Camille Clifford Was A Gibson Girl In The Flesh

The Flapper Of The Roaring ‘20s

The Gibson Girl did not have much in common with the It-girl of the ‘20s. The flapper had short hair and did not wear a corset. There was no longer anything hip about an hourglass figure or a dramatic updo. After the ratification of the 19th Amendment, women finally had the right to vote. This came after almost a century of fighting and protesting for this right! Fashion changed after this political upheaval.

The Flapper Of The Roaring ‘20s

The Flapper Of The Roaring ‘20s

Margaret Gorman Was A Lean Beauty

Margaret Gorman was a beauty queen who was crowned Miss America in 1921. Her fans believed that she had the ideal body type of that decade. As you can see, this was a far cry from the curviness of the Gibson Girls from the previous era. This time around, people admired women with lean bodies!

Margaret Gorman Was A Lean Beauty

Margaret Gorman Was A Lean Beauty

The Soft Siren Of The ‘30s

It was a fun and iconic era, but the Roaring Twenties weren’t around forever. The boxy flapper dresses fell off the radar as the stock market crashed. In the ‘30s, women wore more fitted dresses that hugged the curves of the body better. This would have been a faux pas if it happened a couple of years earlier!

The Soft Siren Of The ‘30s

The Soft Siren Of The ‘30s

Dolores Del Rio Was A Hollywood Stunner

In those days, people looked to Dolores del Rio when it comes to the ideal body. Kids today would have said that she is their body inspo! Photoplay described her body with terms such as “roundly turned” and “warmly curved” as the magazine called the Mexican star the Hollywood actress with the best figure.

Delores Del Rio Was A Hollywood Stunner

Dolores Del Rio Was A Hollywood Stunner

The Star-Spangled Girl Of The ‘40s

The ‘40s brought in a lot of changes. Let us not forget that this was the decade of the Second World War. The global conflict affected just about everything, including the ideal body type. Long limbs and broad shoulders became desirable. The “torpedo” or “bullet” bra was also introduced during this era.

The Star Spangled Girl Of The ‘40s

The Star-Spangled Girl Of The ‘40s

Betty Grable Was The Pin-Up Girl Of The Decade

We are sure that you are familiar with Rosie the Riveter! Even though Betty Grable was not as brawny as the feminist icon, we daresay that she was just as popular. In the ‘40s, she was the most admired pin-up girl! It is hardly a stretch to say that all the men in the military had a photo of her in their foot lockers.

Betty Grable Was The Pin Up Girl Of The Decade

Betty Grable Was The Pin-Up Girl Of The Decade

The Hourglass Figure Of The ‘50s

In the ‘40s, women that were slightly curvaceous were deemed attractive. The ‘50s took it a step further with the rise of the hourglass shape. Gone were the days when a thin physique and strong shoulders were thought to be desirable. As a matter of fact, magazines even started to put ads for weight gainers that claimed to widen the hips!

The Hourglass Figure Of The ‘50s

The Hourglass Figure Of The ‘50s

Marilyn Monroe Had The Ideal Body

We doubt that we have to introduce the lady in this photo. There is not a single doubt in our minds that you know Marilyn Monroe! She has the perfect hourglass figure, after all. We are not sure if it is possible to get any better than this. It is not hard to see why other women were so envious of her in the ‘50s.

Marilyn Monroe Had The Ideal Body

Marilyn Monroe Had The Ideal Body

The Twig Of The ‘60s

This just shows that the ideal female body type goes from one end of the spectrum to the other. After a decade, the hourglass figure was overthrown by the twig. All of a sudden, curves were no longer deemed fashionable. This time around, people were all about thin limbs, small waists, and narrow hips!

The Twig Of The ‘60s

The Twig Of The ‘60s

Twiggy Is A Skinny Legend

As always, a particular celebrity went on to become the symbol of the ideal body type during the ‘60s. In that decade, this would be none other than Lesley “Twiggy” Lawson. It was probably not hard to keep her girlish figure since she started her modeling career at the tender age of 16 back in 1965.

Twiggy Is A Skinny Legend

Twiggy Is A Skinny Legend

The Disco Diva Of The ‘70s

We hope that the pendulum swings in your favor! In the ‘70s, the general public appreciated curves once more. However, it was not exactly the same as in the ‘50s. For one thing, everyone had to fit in certain trends that were a little more out there. Allow us to remind you that this was the disco era!

The Disco Diva Of The ‘70s

The Disco Diva Of The ‘70s

The Stars Of Charlie’s Angels

It is difficult to talk about the women of the ‘70s without mentioning Charlie’s Angels! From left to right, we have Jaclyn Smith, Farrah Fawcett, and Jake Jackson. In those days, they were considered among the most famous actresses. On top of that, people thought that they were the embodiment of sexiness!

The Stars Of Charlie’s Angels

The Stars Of Charlie’s Angels

The Supermodel Of The ‘80s

During the ‘80s, the world was introduced to a new concept called the “supermodel.” This was a title given to women who are taller than average and had long legs. It was difficult to go through an episode of your favorite MTV show without spying any of these gorgeous ladies. They took the world by storm during that period of time.

The Supermodel Of The ‘80s

The Supermodel Of The ‘80s

Rachel Hunter Is Taller Than Most

Just below six feet tall, Rachel Hunter is taller than most men. This is very evident when she stood beside Rod Stewart, her ex. After all, he was only 5’10”! We are sure that you haven’t forgotten her if you were alive in the ‘80s and ‘90s. She was in music videos and the cover page of Sports Illustrated!

Rachel Hunter Is Taller Than Most

Rachel Hunter Is Taller Than Most

Another Icon In The Form Of Elle Macpherson

It does not feel right to talk about the supermodels of the ‘80s without bringing up a certain lady. We are talking about none other than Elle Macpherson! Just so you know, the Australian model is still going strong. As a matter of fact, she was even featured in the 2014 swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated.

Another Icon In The Form Of Elle Macpherson

Another Icon In The Form Of Elle Macpherson

The Waif Of The ‘90s

We are sure that you could not have missed the pattern in the trends. It feels like the following decade would always be a reaction to the one that came before it. In the ‘90s, we saw the rise of the waif. This sort of woman was thin and short with few curves, if any. Other people liked to call this the “heroin chic” look. This was very different from what was popular in the ‘80s.

The Waif Of The ‘90s

The Waif Of The ‘90s

Winona Ryder Is Talented And Gorgeous

Look no further if you were looking for a woman who was going to fit that description! Winona Ryder fits the bill down to a tee. It was clear that this helped her career to a certain extent. Of course, it goes without saying that she is truly a talented actress in her own right at the same time.

Winona Ryder Is Talented And Gorgeous

Winona Ryder Is Talented And Gorgeous

The Buff Beauty Of The 2000s

With the turn of the millennium, we had to deal with the Y2K problem. Aside from this, we bid adieu to the short and skinny girls as well. Once more, we saw taller and more athletic women on the front pages of magazines! There was less emphasis on curves than there was in the ‘50s or ‘80s, but more so than the ‘90s.

The Buff Beauty Of The 2000s

The Buff Beauty Of The 2000s

Gisele Bundchen Is One Of The Most Beautiful Women Alive

In the early ‘00s, a Brazilian supermodel called Gisele Bundchen took the world by storm! Rolling Stone did not call her “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” for no reason. While she is no longer in her prime, she is slaying it by modeling for big clothing companies. On top of that, she is still regularly featured in articles about the “Most Beautiful Women in the World” and “Most Influential People in Fashion.”

Gisele Bundchen Is One Of The Most Beautiful Women Alive

Gisele Bundchen Is One Of The Most Beautiful Women Alive

The Booty Babe Of The 2010s

Like we said, every trend seems to go back into fashion after enough time. This is also true when it comes to the hourglass figure. People are fans of the “bootylicious” look thanks to the likes of Queen B. Curves were back, although there is a bigger emphasis on wide hips and big bums!

The Booty Babe Of The 2010s

The Booty Babe Of The 2010s

Barbadian Beauty

Rihanna has been super prominent in pop culture for many years now and has a figure to die for. The pop-legend has become an iconic figure for her style. She has had several hairdos that many have longed to copy, some classy and cool tattoos; we love her fashion sense too! Just look at the retro-yet-hot vibe she has gone for in the picture below. She has been relevant for so many years and we envisage this will only continue.

Barbadian Beauty

Barbadian Beauty

Back To The Kardashian-Jenners

Naturally we are returning to this iconic family, but this time Kylie Jenner is under the scope! Just like Kim, she found initial fame on reality series Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Kylie has an iconic style and even has her own cosmetic company: Kylie Cosmetics. Forbes announced in 2019 that Kylie’s net worth had risen to $1 Billion, making her the world’s youngest self-made billionaire. Brains, business-sense, style and stunning looks; Kylie has the whole package.

Back To The Kardashian Jenners

Back To The Kardashian Jenners

Wakanda Forever

The release of Black Panther in 2018 took the world by storm and received critical acclaim. She has become one of the most prominent African actors in the film industry and even featured on the cover of vogue! She is stunning and we love her short-hair look. The Kenyan-Mexican star has also featured in critically-acclaimed 12 Years A Slave and more recently in Jordan Peele’s follow up film to successful Get out, Us. We love Lupita and are dying to see her on our screens some more.

Wakanda Forever

Wakanda Forever

From Princess To Prada

Would you believe that Anne Hathaway is 39 years old? The actress/singer has won a variety of awards, including an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a Primetime Emmy. In 2015 she was even announced to be one of the world’s highest paid actresses; her films have grosses over $6.8 Billion worldwide. Kids wanted to be her in the Princess Diaries and maturity only made her even more glamorous! She is stunning, has an incredible figure and awesome fashion sense. Doesn’t she fit this Cat-Woman outfit amazingly?

From Princess To Prada

From Princess To Prada

Cat-Woman Wars

A woman who has certainly given Anne Hathaway a run for her money as the best Cat-Woman; Zoe Kravitz is stunning. She has a unique style and assets that work amazingly for her. She has looks that could kill and will reprise her role as Cat-Woman in 2022’s The Batman. Kravitz is of African American and Ashkenazi Jewish descent and is iconic, stunning. She graced the Met Gala 2021 wearing this daring outfit and she looks great!

Cat Woman Wars

Cat Woman Wars

Her Anaconda Don’t Want None Unless Ya Got Buns, Hun!

Trinidad-born Nicki Minaj has become iconic. Not just for her music and rapping, but for her style and brand. Nicki is known for having some booty, and showcasing it! She actively collaborates with artists such as Doja Cat and has become the face of the Rap/Hip hop world.

Her Anaconda Don't Want None Unless Ya Got Buns, Hun!

Her Anaconda Don’t Want None Unless Ya Got Buns, Hun!

Not So Fast, Nicki

Perhaps one of the only female rappers who could give Nicki a run for her money, Cardi B! The American rapper has become an iconic figure in the public eye, and has a figure to go with it! The “WAP” singer makes us laugh with her antics and has a unique style choice to go with it.

Not So Fast, Nicki

Not So Fast, Nicki

Hunger Games Glam

Does it come as much of a surprise that Jennifer Lawrence was the world’s highest-paid actress in 2015 and 2016? She seems to be in just about anything that is good. She featured in Time’s 100 most influential people in the world list in 2013 as well as Forbes Celebrity 100 list from 2013-2016. The X-Men, Hunger Games star has won numerous awards, but should have been rewarded more for her style! She fit that Hunger Games suit extremely well and has stunning good looks. Throughout the 2010s we just know that every little girl wanted to be just like her.

Hunger Games Glam

Hunger Games Glam

Lara Croft- Tomb Raider

Jolie was one of the most iconic women of the 90s and 00s, for sure. Everyone seemed to know what she was up to, and her relationship with Brad Pitt “Brangelina” was notorious, being a supercouple. It almost seems like the role of Lara Croft was made for her, she looked awesome in the outfit.

Lara Croft Tomb Raider

Lara Croft Tomb Raider

Into The Spider-World

Zendaya has risen in a short space of time to become exceptionally prominent in terms of style and pop culture. The actress has most recently taken to the role of MJ in Tom Holland’s Spider-Man excellently. The Californian beauty is the face of Idôle Eau de Parfum, is a brand ambassador for Tommy Hilfiger and has appeared on the runway at both Paris Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week.

Into The Spider World

Into The Spider World

Kim Kardashian Shows Off Her Assets

Unless you have been leaving under a rock, we are sure that you are familiar with Kim Kardashian. Aside from her reality TV show and husband, she is probably most famous for her “assets.” There is even a particular photo that features a bottle of champagne that really drives the point home.

Kim Kardashian Shows Off Her Assets

Kim Kardashian Shows Off Her Assets

We Did Not Forget About Jennifer Lopez

Even though she is no longer as famous as Kim K, we have not forgotten about Jennifer Lopez! There is no way that would have been possible. It feels right to add J. Lo to the list. After all, she even released a hit called “Booty.” If you ask us, she was made to be featured on lists like this one. Beauty ideals are different across the globe, each country has a different ideal, wait until you see Argentina’s…

We Did Not Forget About Jennifer Lopez

We Did Not Forget About Jennifer Lopez

U.S.A

Body type perceptions and desires are also different depending on the country, people in different places of the world admire different features and want to look a specific way in comparison to many others. From the above, the ideal of beauty in America is tall, curvy, with blue eyes and blonde hair. However, light brown eyes are also adored. America in many ways sets the tone for westernized culture, and celebrities can be seen in all shapes and sizes- thus, this typical ideal is interesting.

U.S.A

U.S.A

China

China has always had their own specific look, and their beauty ideal in regards to women. Their ideals were somewhat different to majority of the diaspora. In China many women aspire to be as skinny as possible. Being very thin and having very pale skin are some of the main aspirations women have, another aspect is nose shape and big eyes. When it comes to makeup women aim to make their skin paler, and they also aim for small waists.

China

China

Egypt

Diversity can be seen amongst the middle east as many people in many of the different countries view beauty differently, for example, Egypt’s view of beauty in women is women who are curvy and have a larger upper body. It is believed that these women are generally found more attractive in Egyptian culture. The overall culture is very conservative and concealed which is different from more western countries. Cleopatra was too envisioned with such a body type.

Egypt

Egypt

Switzerland

The swiss perception of the most desirable woman is described as slim, rather tall, and brown hair is preferred over blonde. The most attractive type of eyesight is regarded as fair eyes. On the contrary, the stereotypical ideal of a Swiss woman is blonde with blue eyes, this is why this is so fascinating. Something must occur in each place for these norms to be created but the next descriptions are truly something else.

Switzerland

Switzerland

Bulgaria

Bulgarian beauty standards or the typical figure of Bulgarian women is a small and thin waist, a large bust and wide hips. However, the ideal is that these women are usually small-boned and have long hands and fingers. Women are usually thin with dark-colored hair, they usually have very fresh and moisture-filled skin which allows them to look glowy- this is due to the weather in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria

Bulgaria

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom have deemed that a bit of shape and curvature is well-desired as well as petite to medium-sized upper body parts. The ideal height for a woman is just under 6ft, f ft 7 is a more accurate estimate of what is the ideal. In every country people have a different opinion and different preference this is just what is most often seen as the ideal of desired beauty and body type. Women in the UK are usually envisioned with defined cheek and collarbones.

United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Philippines

In the Philippines the beaut ideal consists of women with long and dark hair, an angular face and jaw as well as small foreheads. Additionally, women are petite but very busty too. The beauty standard also revolves a lot around skin color and being pale. It is believed that women often scrub a lot, and use products that make their skin lighter, this is a major beauty standard in many Asian countries.

Philippines

Philippines

France

The French embody the supermodel look, after all the two are majorly aligned. French like particularly skinny and tall women. They sum up that these women can even have a tom-boy look or embody the girl next door,  but they are generally tall and petite in all aspects. French women are usually natural and work on accentuating what they have, this meaning plastic surgery and fake aspects are not often seen nor preferred.

France

France

Bangladesh

The Bangladesh beauty ideal includes brown eyes, simply perfect and flawless skin that glows. They are known for their glowing and radiant skin. Long, dark hair are often seen too. Thick eyebrows, a sharp nose, and bigger eyes are also statements within the ideal. Bodywise preference leans to more of a curvy figure, however, the emphasis is on facial features and hair- something we have not seen so much of in other countries.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Chile

Chile’s fashion trends and beauty ideal actually date back to a more natural time, a time where people lived off of the land and dealt in farming. Thus Chilean people view the beauty ideal in females with thinner eyebrows, women who wear little to no makeup. However, the ideal is also to be blonde which is uncommon in Chile. Many women dye their hair blonde and it is widely seen in advertisements across the country.

Chile

Chile

Italy

In Italy, it can be seen that the beauty ideal and standard is somewhat similar to that of France in the sense that the typical body structure is tall and skinny. Italian women often have thin eyebrows and clear skin, makeup is usually preferred with a tad of color on the lips and eyelids. As much as being skinny is desired it is also a look that is somewhat soft and looks pleasing for one to touch.

Italy

Italy

Nigeria

In Nigeria, lighter skin is seen as an association between wealth and higher class work. Skin lightening products are widely sought out as many want to be associated with a higher class. However, thicker and curvy women are the preference in regard to shape- this is due to the ideal of being thin indicating sickness or bad health. Thus, the ideal in Nigeria is to be curvy, thick, and somewhat bigger as a sign of good health.

Nigeria

Nigeria

Romania

Romanian women face heavy pressure to be skinny, which makes smoking and dieting a part of the culture there. Moreover, they are very influenced by western ways, in the sense that plastic surgery is very much done and very available. Women are expected to dress up no matter what their profession be, it is not uncommon to see a teacher in heels. However, there is a fine border between being conservative and revealing- women are condemned for showing to much. Long hair, maintained nails, and a body type that is well built on the bust and trim.

Romania

Romania

Serbia

In Serbia the facial beauty ideal promotes big, blue eyes and big lips too. However, body-wise Serbian women should ideally be long-legged, thin with a bigger bust than average. The ideal is also to be well kept- having one’s nails and hair done. Serbian women account for many of the world’s models, they are truly stunning.

Serbia

Serbia

South Africa

South Africa embodies many different ideals with regards to body shape and beauty ideals. With its many cultures there are many preferences. However, one of the main ideals is to have a small waist, wide hips, and a bigger bottom. South Africa rich in its culture also promotes a want for lighter skin amongst black people but amongst white people a need to be somewhat tanned. With regards to eye color- fair eyes are widely desired.

South Africa

South Africa

Ukraine

In Ukraine as much as we would think blonde hair and blue eyes it is actually the opposite- dark hair and very defined cheekbones are seen as beautiful. The beauty ideal values slim and pale women, however up until the 20th century chubby women were actually admired and valued as the ideal. Ukraine does not value a fake look nor a plastic look, they prefer a natural look and do not expect women to look like models.

Ukraine

Ukraine

Peru

Peru just like Chile value the beauty of their indigenous people but this is not what their ideal is, the western vision of beauty is what is admired and associated with wealth. The beauty ideal values a western look of tall, skinny women with blonde hair and blue eyes. Peru showcases a multitude of cultures and different origins, they dread the idea that their skin may darken and many of those who work outdoors cover up from head to toe in order to prevent any formation of darkening melanin.

Peru

Peru

Netherlands

Dutch women are often wanted in the modeling industry, they are tall, slender, and have elongated features. Dutch women are often very natural looking but they are amongst the tallest in the world on average. Blonde is very much desired but not necessarily a major preference, rather a commonality.

Netherlands

Netherlands

Argentina

In Argentina, a curvy figure is admired- slim waits and wide hips, however, Argentinian women often wear accentuating, makeup with pops of color and drastic lashes. Natural and clear skin but very attention-drawing lips are amongst some of the facial preferences. Big eyes and tight-fitting clothes are other common finds.

Argentia

Argentina

Kenya

Tall foreheads, elongated necks, skinny bodies, and dark skin are just some admirations in Kenya. It is additionally found that bright colors like to be worn not only in clothing but in makeup too, short hair is another trait seen amongst Kenyans and in Kenyan culture.

Kenya

Kenya

What Comes After This

If there is something that we can take away from this, it is the idea that perfection does not really exist. This is even truer when it comes to things like body ideals! People create these unrealistic standards over something that most people can’t control. In the end, the only thing to do is to look in the mirror. If you are happy with what you see, then that is all that matters!

What Comes After This

What Comes After This

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