Unfortunately, everything changes. And we mean everything. Whether it’s language, politics, fashion or body shape… it all changes. And body shape changes in two ways. One – it changes genetically. Duh, you grow up. Your body changes, you grow, you may put on weight, you may lose weight, it’s kind of genetic. Secondly – people’s perception of body shape changes. One year, having big hips may be in. The next year, being stick thin may be the new craze. Sometimes, it’s hard to keep up with the perfect body shape. Which begs the question… is there really a perfect body shape? Take a look at how the ‘perfect body’ has changed over the centuries…
The Renaissance Era
Between the 1400s and the 1600s, the in-look was the curvy and motherly body figure. Back (way back) in the day, these curvy and voluptuous bodies were considered the most beautiful because they appeared motherly, maternal and fertile… which is what the men wanted from their women. The best part was – you got to eat what you wanted. The Renaissance era specialized in their pies, stews, roasts and hearty goodness. And you could eat it all, because you were allowed to be voluptuous. Score.
The Victorian Era
The Victorian Era stemmed from 1837 to the early 1900s, and the hourglass figure was all the rage. Victorian men and women loved extreme proportions, and made sure their bodily proportions were exact. You wanted a teeny tiny waist, to accentuate your fuller figure in your buttocks and breasts. Yes, this look was really possible. It might not have been comfortable or breathable, but it was possible. The corset became a staple in everyday wardrobes, and cinched in the woman’s waist so that it became desirably tiny. If you really wanted the perfect body, your ideal waist would be 20-21 inches. Ouch.
The 1920s was one of the most comfortable eras in terms of body image. It was the time of the Flappers, and the masculinity. Women in the ’20s wanted to be just like their men – carefree and bold, so they embraced their masculine ways. Whether it was a pantsuit or a Flapper dress, the aim was to show a straight and curve-less figure, being careful not to show any breast or buttocks. In fact, women wanted to make their chests as flat as possible, so they wound bandages around them to make them look even more flat! But these women were still carefree, so showing a bit of leg and arms were a must.
The 1930s ditched the Flapper, masculine look and opted for a more feminine and glamorous look, inspired by 1930s Hollywood. In 1938, Life magazine described the perfect, ideal body shape. They said, “The perfect 1938 figure must have curves but it differs from the perfect figure of past decades in relationship of curves to straight lines… Now, though, the ideal figure must have a round, high bosom, a slim but not wasp-like waist, and gently rounded hips.” So not too much to ask for, then.