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The constant change of body image

Photo via Pixabay under the creative commons license

Photo via Pixabay under the creative commons license

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Over the years, the thought of obtaining a “perfect” body has become more common in society. The women in ads, runways, and the spotlight have been becoming thinner every day it seems. The front pages of magazines all say “Ways to lose 10 pounds in three days” or “Look your thinnest today!” while on the inside, they have articles about looking comfortable in your own skin and how everybody is beautiful no matter what they look like. Whether thin or curvy, women have always had the weight of looking a certain way on their shoulders.

Don’t get me wrong I am all for self-confidence, and I think every woman should feel beautiful; however, I just don’t get why society is confusing us like this!

A Rubenesque figure

 

In the 1800s, the Rubenesque figures were considered beautiful at the time.  They weren’t stick thin, in fact, they would be considered more on the plump side in today’s society.

The Rubenesque figures were painted by Peter Paul Rubens, who captured those beautiful women in his paintings.  He was one of the reasons why that body type was the most popular at the time.

Lillian Russell

Then from the 1890s-1910s the Gibson girls were what women aspired to look like. It started when Lillian Russell, a famous actress and singer, known for having a “big-boned” body type became popular.

Then came the “Gibson girl” – a smooth skinned, supple, and dainty women with a corset defined waist. Charles Dana Gibson was the one who first defined the ideal form for a female: thin waist, rounded shoulders, and smooth neck.

Elvelyn Nesbit-the ideal Gibson girl

The corsets these women were wearing were caused many health problems. The corsets would conform their lungs and ribs to where they couldn’t breathe.  Women who wore these had to take short little breaths, this caused them to not get enough oxygen. Wearing the corsets would also deform their organs, depending on how much they wore them, causing more serious damage to their bodies.

During the 1920s,  Flappers took over as the inspiration for women. Flappers had bob haircuts and lean, slender body types. During this time, Flappers strayed away from the normal feminine behavior; they drank, smoked, drove cars, basically did whatever they want, since by this time women could vote, drive cars, and even be employed for the same jobs as men. In fact, because there was barely a divide between genders, men started to make mustaches more popular because women couldn’t grow them.

A flapper in the 1920s

Then came the 1940s-1950s, the Pin-up girls dominated magazines and newspapers. In this era, Marilyn Monroe made her mark in the world of body image. She had curves, she was thicker than the ideal body type in today’s society and still to this day is considered one of the most beautiful women of all time. Although as we look at the pictures from this time frame we think they look real, right? Actually, this is when photographers and models started touching up

Marilyn Monroe in the 1960s

photos  The pin-up girls would wear certain clothes to hide flaws and photographers would pose the models a certain way so their legs would look longer or their bodies would look a certain way.

Born Lesley Hornby, Twiggy, an English Model, actress, and singer was the center of attention in the spotlight in the 1960s. Another major influence for women during this time was Audrey Hepburn. Hepburn was the peak of the Hollywood Golden Age, she starred in countless films and shows. Twiggy and Hepburn both had their slender stick thin body frame which was one of the factors that helped stray away from the ideal body of the 50s which was of thicker and curvy, to the “In” style of the 60s which was rail-thin and fashionable.

Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”(1961)

During the 1990s was when people started paying attention to body image the most. Kate Moss was the head of this movement. Her famous quote was “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”   In fact, during the 1990s, eating disorders were becoming more and more common. Could that be because of the models on the runway and other influential people were starting to get scary thin?

Kate Moss in the 1990s; people in the media kept getting thinner

Looking back over the past decades, women have strived to be a certain body type…to match an ideal.  However, recently there has been a lot of awareness about this topic saying that we should love ourselves instead of starving, or hating, or even envying people who happen to have the right genes at the right time.

Moving forward into the modern world, I’m glad we have people like Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, and the Kardashian-Jenner clan to show us that it is perfectly okay to be curvy and thick. That your thighs can touch, you CAN have stretch marks, and yes having zits is okay! Over the years media and society has been telling us how we should look, and it’s been getting worse.

If I have one thing to say, it is you were beautiful, you are beautiful, and for years to come, you will always be beautiful.

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