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The concept of the "perfect" woman's body isn't static, and the aesthetic ideas are just the representation of pop culture. Thus, the fashion we embrace today is often at odds with those from previous generations. Let's look more about the ideal body shapes and the corresponding representatives over the last 100 years.
The Gibson Girl was the ideal beauty of the illustrator Charles Gibson, and he broadcast their body shape on the pages of many fashion magazines. Then, women of the era raced to copy this look: tall and slender, yet with ample bosom, hips, and buttocks.
As Gibson's model, though, Camille Clifford was critical of this body shape. She sang in her vaudeville show, "Wear a blank expression / and a monumental curl / And walk with a bend in your back / Then they will call you a Gibson Girl."
In the new fashion era, the exaggerated curves were gone and replaced with small bust and hips. Nevertheless, the flapper didn't lack sex appeal. The shorter knee-length hemline could expose the flash of a garter while dancing.
As the iconic figure of the flapper, Margaret Gorman was crowned as the first Miss America in 1921. Her flat-chested look was totally different from the ideal female body in the Gibson era.
Unlike the flapper, the media in the 1930s embraced a slightly more curvy body with a natural waist and a small bustline. The popular dresses also became less boxy but more fitted.
The People magazine of its day declared that the actress Dolores del Rio had the "best figure in Hollywood." The article applauded her "warmly curved" and "roundly turned" figure.
Due to World War II, the military shoulders, which were broad, boxy, and aggressive, became more popular. The typical beauty must have a long-limbed, taller, and squarer silhouette.
The appearance of Rosie the Riveter has proved that women played an expanding role in the workforce while men were on the battlefield during WWII. Hence, they needed to look much more powerful and commanding.
After the war, a soft voluptuousness was prized above all else. Thus, the ample bosom and tiny waist went back to the fashion stage, and ads of the time even advised "skinny" women to take weight-gain supplements like Wate-On to fill out their curves.
As one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s, Marilyn Monroe fitted the ideal body shape of an hourglass in all directions and became the dream lover of countless men of the era.
However, in the 1960s, a smaller bust and slim hips were more popular at the time. Here we find the same dramatic swing as we saw from Gibson Girl to the flapper. More and more women dropped their girdle and embraced less constricting dresses.
The model Twiggy represented a new ideal: doll-faced, super slender, and petite. In this era, the fashionable look was fresh-faced, girlish, and androgynously haircut.
This decade was a raging party! In this era, the overall popular look remained lean, especially in the torso, but curves started to come back. Compared with the last decade, the trendy clothes of the time were far more revealing for indicating the body shape.
By following the black pride and "black is beautiful" movements of the 1960s, Beverly Johnson became the first black woman to grace the cover of Vogue. Moreover, her curvy body shape also fitted the taste of the time.
In the 1980s, the supermodels reigned supreme. These tall, leggy women come to represent the new feminine ideal. They greatly influenced pop culture, media, and even the music industry.
The 1980s also ushered in an era of fitness. Thanks to a pioneering Jane Fonda, aerobics and jogging were popular in the period. For the first time, muscles were acceptable and desirable for women.
However, the taste changed again in the 1990s. The petite and thin frame came into the mainstream. But naysayers also dub it "heroin chic" for the worn look associated with Seattle's grunge music scene.
Hollywood also embraced the waif look. A-list 90s actress Winona Ryder was so petite that her costar Ben Stiller exclaimed, "She's like a little figurine for the coffee table!"
Gone is the pale, gaunt, glass-eyed look of the 90s. Now we enter an era of visible abs and airbrushed tans. The sexy and healthy appearance became the new fashion.
Supermodel Gisele Bundchen was credited with ending the era of "heroin chic." Her toned figure and tan skin made Hollywood actresses race to follow.
We can use two words to describe the new trend: booty bonanza. According to The New York Times, "bootylicious" bodies with ample buttocks have gone mainstream.
Nicki Minaj is famous for her almighty buttock. In Anaconda, she holds a workout session while backup dancers wearing shorts that read "Bunz" do squats to the beat.
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