The “ideal” body type for women has changed throughout cultures and centuries, and until people stop putting a somewhat obsessive interest in the way they look (though this seems unlikely), it will continue to change as our societies evolve.
From having a round stomach and full hips to being waifish and narrow shouldered, the “ideal” body type for women seems to take on a life of its own as it expands and retracts over the centuries.
The video, which looks pretty similar to how a yo-yo dieter’s body would transform over time, shows around 3,000 years of women’s ideal body types, as determined by their respective society’s standard of beauty.
Ancient Egypt – 1292 B.C. to 1069 B.C.
Art from ancient Egypt tells us that long, braided hair was an important aspect of female beauty. Braids framed a symmetrical face, and women wore thick black kohl around their eyes. Women are shown as slender, with high waists and slim shoulders.
Ancient Greece – 500 B.C. to 300 B.C.
Nudity was a common part of ancient Greek society, but sculptures and paintings of nude women were often covered. It’s thought that the first important female nude sculpture in classical Greece was Aphrodite of Cnidus, who showed that beauty in ancient Greece meant plump and full-figured bodies.
Han Dynasty – 206 B.C. to 220 A.D.
During the Han Dynasty period of Chinese history, feminine beauty meant delicate, slim bodies with a radiating inner glow. Women were expected to have pale skin, long black hair, red lips, white teeth, and a graceful walk with small feet. Small feet were an aspect of Chinese beauty that would continue for hundreds of years.
Italian Renaissance – 1400 A.D. to 1700 A.D.
Beauty in Renaissance Italy meant a rounded body, including full hips and large breasts. Pale skin, strawberry blonde hair, and high foreheads were all thought of as the height of physical beauty.
Victorian Era – 1937 A.D. to 1901 A.D.
The style of Victorian England reflected women’s motherly position in society. Women wore corsets to cinch their waists as tightly as possible, creating an hourglass figure. These corsets physically restrained women’s range of motion, flaunting their separation from physical labor. Women also wore their hair long as a symbol of femininity.
Roaring Twenties – 1920–29 A.D.
Women in the United States were given the right to vote in 1920, and it set the tone for the decade. Females favored an androgynous look, downplaying their waists and wearing bras that flattened their breasts. Beauty in the 1920s was a curveless, boyish body.
Golden Age Of Hollywood – 1930–1959
The Golden Age of Hollywood lasted from the 1930s through 1950s. During that time, the Hays Code was in effect, establishing moral parameters regarding what could or couldn’t be said, shown, or implied in film. The code limited the types of roles available to women, creating an idealized version of women that, for the first time, was spread around the world. Movie stars at the time, like Marilyn Monroe, flaunted curvier bodies with slim waists.
Swinging Sixties – 1960–69
“Swinging London” had a profound influence throughout the western world during the 1960s, and it helped usher miniskirts and A-line shapes into fashion. These fashions were best modeled by Twiggy, whose slender frame changed the ideal body type from curvy to tall and thin.
Supermodel Era – 1980–89
Jane Fonda created an aerobics fad in the 1980s, which made women want to be fit. Supermodels like Cindy Crawford typified the ideal body of the era: tall, slim, athletic, but still buxom. This era also saw an uptick in anorexia, which some experts thought might’ve been tied to the sudden emphasis on exercise.
Heroin Chic – 1990–99
After the materialism and overexertion of the 1980s, fashion swung the other way. Thin, withdrawn, and pale, Kate Moss typified the heroin chic look in the 1990s. Heroin use actually rose during this time, causing President Clinton to comment on the trend in 1997.
Postmodern Beauty – 2000–Today
Women in the 2000s have been bombarded with so many different requirements of attractiveness. Women should be skinny, but healthy; they should have a flat stomach, but have large breasts and a big butt. And sadly, in order to achieve all this, women have increasingly been turning to plastic surgery to fit this beauty mold.
Before, a little black kohl under the eye, or a corset cinching the waist, was how beauty standards were maintained. But now, going under the knife has become almost commonplace for some women to achieve the “desired” look.
What are your thoughts on the seemingly never-ending beauty standards of women?
[Image via Buzzfeed]