The silhouette of the ‘perfect lady’ evolves all the time, and it’s a fad, just like everything else in the culture. It has altered several times over the previous century, owing primarily to new celebrities and fashions that have come into favor. So, while we may wish we looked like someone else at times, remember that styles come and go, and nothing beats confidence in your own skin. Bright Side has compiled a list of how the ‘ideal’ body has evolved over time to demonstrate that all styles evolve and to urge you to appreciate your body as it is, whatever it looks like.
1910 — The Gibson Girl
Charles Gibson designed this outfit, which had a long neck, sloping shoulders, huge curly hair, and a tightly laced corset. Because of the tight corset, the feminine form resembled a figure eight. ‘The Gibson Girl was not dainty…she was black, royal in demeanor, [and] fairly tall,’ noted Linda M Scott.
1920 — the flapper
Curves were out and tiny busts and hips were in. The ideal lady was typically considerably shorter than the towering 1910s appearance, and the look is sleek and tiny. As the hemlines of flapper dresses became shorter, the emphasis shifted to women’s legs. As the bob became popular, women’s long hair was chopped to shoulder length.
1930 — the soft siren
Longer hemlines, yet a more fitting clothing style, characterize this decade. The urge for a waist and a somewhat curvier body reappeared. There is now a focus on a powerful waistline, as well as a need for stronger shoulders, busts, and hips. Women were expected to have a more ‘feminine’ figure, as fashion stressed a more romantic appearance.
1940 — the star-spangled girl
This is the period of big, boxy shoulders. The goal in this age was to appear taller and more authoritative. This was in line with the angular fashion trends and sought a longer-limbed and squarer body form. Fashion grew more functional and less concerned with glitz.
1950 — the hourglass
The 1950s were a time when voluptuous, hourglass forms were praised. In this age, the “ideal” shape was all curves, with a tiny waist and a huge bust and hips. Women were also urged to use weight-gain pills in order to augment their curves!
1960 — the twig
The curves of the 1950s were suddenly out in the 1960s. We were now returning to a more androgynous, tiny, slim appearance. A fresh-faced, youthful, girlish appearance was desired. Narrow hips, a thin waist, and a diminutive bust were all back in style, and they were complemented by the shrunken shift dresses that were popular at the time.
1970 — the disco diva
To wear the disco styles of the 1970s, the party lady of the era was driven to maintain a slim-hipped, flat tummy physique. The synthetic materials used in 1970s apparel were also more exposed than in the past, allowing more of the figure to be seen. There was a modest return to curves, with a slender torso, but the return of a larger breast was a perfect style. This was also the era of tanning and long, natural hair.
1980 — the supermodel
The 1980s’ new feminine ideal was influenced by the era’s supermodels. Tall, thin, and long legs were deemed the ‘ideal’ female physical type. This was also the start of exercise crazes such as running and aerobics, thus for the first time, the body trend embraced women with muscles and being strong, fit, and toned.
1990 — the waif
The athletic supermodels of the 1980s are, once again, the polar opposite of the 1990s. The emaciated, waif-like appearance appeared in this season. The new period of smaller models and actresses influenced this decade’s desire for women to be exceptionally thin, androgynous, and pale.
2000 — the buff beauty
The ‘ideal’ physique evolved once again in the 2000s. Now, the athletic appearance was back, with a demand for flat tummies and ‘thigh gaps’ — inspired once again by the models of the day. In this age, the female form was all about seeming long and slim.
2010s — the booty
The decade of the 2010s heralded the arrival of a new body ideal: the curvaceous form, particularly with a more prominent rear. As diversity became more important, and plus-size models entered the mainstream, the emphasis shifted back to a more hourglass and voluptuous body.
The social media era of the 2020s
According to polls, many people’s perceptions of the ‘ideal’ female figure are still slender and petite. This, however, does not correspond to the typical female size. With the growth of the Body Positivity and Body Neutrality movements, we are seeing a shift away from the idea of a singular ‘ideal’ body. More varied bodies are being shown in the media, and we are being exposed to more ‘average’ women as a result of social media.
Finally, we are letting go of the notion that women must look a certain way in order to be beautiful. Women are proud of who they are. This is starting to send a clearer message that we should not strive to appear like others.