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THE

EVOLUTION OF THE
IDEAL FEMALE BODY IMAGE
1900 - 2014
Danielle Muntyan
FOREWORD 01 - 02
1900 - 19 03 - 24
1920 - 29 25 - 36
1930 - 39 37 - 48
1940 - 49 49 - 60
1950 - 59 61 - 74
1960 - 69 75 - 86
1970 - 79 87 - 100
1980 - 89 101 - 114
1990 - 99 115 - 126
2000 - 14 127 - 144
INDEX 145 - 150
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In the past century alone, the female body has changed from decade
to decade depending on the sociocultural and fashion issues which
have arisen throughout the eras.
A combination of key elements such as status, class, celebrities,
media, Hollywood, in-season clothes, courting, dieting, exercise fads
and trends, have all shaped and contributed to how females percieve
their bodies.
The evolution of the ideal female body image, looks at bodily changes
from as early as 1900 to 2014. This book highlights the ideal look,
figure and icon of each year, allowing a timeline of beauties to fall in
line.
For the first time in history, over 100 photographs have been carefully
chosen, documented and collated, showcasing evident and apparent
change of the female body overtime.
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The early 1900s, and the previous decades, held an almost unknown
ideal body image in comparison to present day.
This era was known for The Gibson Girls and the ideal image
representing the natural beauty, echoing freedom and the celebration
of self-expression.
Curvaceous, tall females with soft lines, contours and voluptuous
breasts were seen as the ideal beauty of the time.
Curves meant wealth, social status, class and power. Being well fed
and well dressed were signifiers of doing well in life and celebrating
ones apparent good taste.
In the 1910s the corsetry trend which was prominent through
Edwardian and Victorian times came back into fashion allowing
females to take on an hourglass figure.
It was common for these to be made from whale bone, and be fitted so
tight, overtime wearing the corset itself could cause internal damage
and breathing problems.
It was at this point in time where women began to suffer to become the
perfect shape, size and weight.
Following WWI this idealised image slowly gave way, and tranformed
into an informal, less prim and proper flapper girl visage.
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A 20-year-period spanning from the late 19th
century to the early 20th century, boasted The Gibson
Girls, whose ideal image was a synthesis of prevailing
beauty ideals at the turn of the century, as illustrated
by Charles Dana Gibson.
This represented thousands of Amercian girls,
demonstrated by models such as Camille Clifford and
Evelyn Nesbit.
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Sofia Papazoc celebrates the early Flapper Girl image,
rejecting traditional Victorian Style. The styles echo a
disagreement with the Prohibition movement of the
time.
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WWI was in full swing, and women were dressing
more conservatively, using layering and drapery, to
add shape and movement, whilst enhancing their
figures also.
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The roaring twenties saw a dramatic change in the ideal body image,
which celebrated loose fitting clothes draped over a boyish frame.
Compared to previous years of tight fitted corsetry and voluptuous
breasts, the 20s boasted bare arms, minimal breasts and short hair,
which at the time, represented the freedom of expression.
There was a great surge of androgynous youth and gender blending
through fashion and personal interpretation.
The 20s were known for the flappers and their envied style, taste and
class.
Dresses were beaded to add weight and movement to the fabric. Side
slits, low waist lines and daring cuts, allowed for flashing ankles, knees
and accentuated legs, hinting at sexuality.
This freewheeling lifestyle came to an abrupt end with the onset of the
great depression in the early 1930s.
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Photography by Edward Steichen for Vogue US.
Traditional Flapper dresses were worn to show off
the legs and thighs whilst dancing adding daring and
glamourous sexuality at the time.
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The 1930s saw both the great depression and the onset of WWII.
Without most not realising at the time, the fashions and bodily changes
were influenced by these social, cultural and political changes.
The era allowed curves to naturally come back into fashion, and style
became more traditional.
Swimwear came to a peak as women became much more confident
in themselves.
Hemlines dropped adding femininity to outfits, whilst florals and colour
were used to define men from women.
Skirts became longer showing and highlighting a natural waistline.
The celebrity ideal in this era was hard to reach due to the average US
BMI being a healthy, yet high figure of 23.6.
Celebrities and women alike envied and aspired to look icons such as
Barbara Stanswick with a BMI of 18.5, and Lena Horne with a BMI of
20.3.
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1932 (Opposite Page)
Photography by Edward Steichen for Vogue US. July.
The first ever photographic cover of Vogue Magazine.
Cond Nast began replacing fashion drawings on
covers with photo illustrations, which was seen as an
innovative move for the time.
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1934 (Opposite Page)
Cover by Bruehl-Bourges, Vogue US June.
Tennis season arrives, allowing sportwear to be worn,
subsequently showing off the female physique more.
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Ascot season ran throughout the month of July, and
allowed for women to be and feel both sexy, and
glamourous.
Dresses worn were often figure hugging to emphasise
ideal, petitie, curvaceous figures.
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Test Shoot Photograph.
As the flapper season wore off, and the novelty of
being thin disintergrated, allowing advertisers to jump
in, and encourage women to be more voluptuous
and to avoid being seen as too thin.
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The 40s allowed women to become sexualised and in full glory. The
ideal body image throughout the decade was seen as sexy, curvy and
large breasted, with a full figured, hourglass shape.
Pin-up girls and playboy magazine were seen and promoted
everywhere, adding a sense of perfection to the ideal body image
which most aspired to look like, or as a male, be with.
Newly introduced beauty products such as Max Factor pancake
foundation, liquid silk stockings and pillar-box red lipstick were
launched, adding a flirtacious, and sexy vibe to the era. All of these
products are seen in present day to day life, international beauty
trends and fashion magazines.
Women often aspired and worked towards looking like Marilyn
Monroe and Grace Kelly. Both of these were seen as the beauty
ideals of the decade due to the increased popularity of hollywood and
its subsequent enticing visage.
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Women were becoming more confident with their
bodies, expressing themselves in a new light with the
introduction of cosmetics and curves being regarded
as an equal beauty.
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Rita Hayworth, Vogue US.
Female icons of the time such as Rita Hayworth
were being spotted and photographed in two-piece
swimwear, in a lightly sexual manner, encouraging
others to be confident in themselves also.
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The 50s saw an exaggeration of the 1940s ideal female body image
with an over emphasised waist, perfect hair and flawless make-up.
The glamourous ideal yet again stemmed from famous hollywood icons
and film stars at the time. Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren and Marilyn
Monroe were popular aspirations of beauty. Monroes BMI (Body Mass
Index) throughout the decade averaged at a low 20, with the average
being 23.6 causing a surge of major body insecurities and
comparisons.
In addition to this Shirley Maclaine had a BMI of 18.8, further adding
to the pressure from the media to look a particular way.
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To all the girls that think youre fat
because youre not a size zero, youre
the beautiful one; its society whos
ugly
MARILYN MONROE
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1951 (Opposite Page)
Marilyn Monroe.
Monroe was seen as the ideal women by many around
the world and adored for her sexy, full-bodied figure.
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1954 (Opposite Page)
Marilyn Monroe, Playboy US.
Further to being adored by her film and modelling
fans, she had a large male audience and made it as a
worldwide sex-symbol, as well as into Playboy.
1955
Margie Harrison, Playboy US.
Margie Harrison also made it as a Playboy model,
showcasing a curvy figure, with large breasts,
keeping in-line with the sex-object in fashion.
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The 1960s was nicknamed the Swinging Sixties and the height of the
Sexual Revolution, being reflected by the polar opposite of fashions
and the idealised body image of the 1950s.
The contrast between the 50s and 60s in terms of body size and
image is considered one of the biggest, most noticeable, visible
changes in history, when considering the constant ever-changing
ideal.
Fashion, music, art and surrounding sociocultural issues of the era,
changed the shape of the decade.
Rather than high-end glamour and curves, a skinny, pre-pubescent
look took over the hype surrounding body image.
The ideal was very slight, slim framed, petite and boyish, often with
short pixie-crop hair and lavish eye make-up to further express their
individual personality and style.
For the first time since the 20s women and models wanted to
become slim. Twiggy has been noted as the sterotypical ideal of the
60s in terms of both fashion and body image. The famous model
whose weight averaged at 112lbs, had a dangerously low BMI of 15,
almost invisible breasts, slight frame, short, cropped hair and a fresh,
boyish charm.
The average US BMI had risen from 23.6 to 25.2, whilst ideals such
as Soledad Miranda and Jessica Lange, had BMIs of 17.6 and 20.4,
being almost impossible to both obtain and maintain naturally.
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The early 1960s saw a drastic drop in weight which
became instantly noticable in the media, with
celebrities of the time and of the general public.
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Audrey Hepburn.
Hepburn remained a solid icon of beauty and of the
movie screens, with a naturally slender figure many
envied.
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The slender ideal of the 60s continued on through the 70s. Towards
the end of the decade, women were encouraged to dress with more
freedom allowing experimental dress. Garments tested were those
such as maxi skirts, allowing parts of the body to be covered.
An unkept, tousled look visage was common and idealised at times by
many, whilst female sexuality continued to soar.
In order to keep up with the changes in body image, diet pill sales rose
drastically overtime along with the increase in aerobic activies and
group exercise.
At the same time, singer Karen Carpenter was diagnosed with
Anorexia Nervosa, highlighting to the public for the first time since
1945 with the case of Ellen West, how eating disorders can be
influenced by both aspirations and ones environment.
The average US BMI dropped slightly to 24.9, with ideal beauties such
as Morgan Fairchild and Joni Mitchell boasting average BMIs of 18
and 20.5.
Even with the average BMI at at a lower figure, the ideal figure or
weight one ideally would want to reach is still almost impossible when
comparing oneself to the celebrity statistics, with or without excessive
dieting, exercise or disorded eating habits.
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Twiggy, Vogue UK.
First appearing in the 60s, Twiggy
remained an icon in terms of her style, and her figure.
Some claimed she was too thin, and had an eating
disorder whilst others have argued that Twiggy was
naturally blessed with a perfect body.
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1972 (Opposite Page)
Photograph by Helmet Newton
Women continued to smoke to reduce their appetites
in order to maintain their slim figures.
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By the late 70s, sexuality was in full-swing, and women
were proud to freely show off their assets and sexualise
themselves.
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In the 80s the ideal celebrated legs in high-cut swimwear as well as
shoulder pads towards the end of the decade, being used as symbol
of female power.
60% of playboy models throughout the decade weighed 15% less
than average for their height.
Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer were idealised
throughout the decade, even though crawford had a low and unhealthy
US BMI of 19.
The average us bmi had risen slightly once again to 25, with ideal
beauties such as Cheryl Tiegs and Bo Derek having a BMI of 17.6 and
20.4, making the ideal yet again difficult to achieve.
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Photograph by Guy Bourdin.
Photoshoot promoting Chanel Cosmetics for a
Chanel Calendar in association with Pentax.
This particular image advertisies their signature red.
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Nastassja Kinski and the Serpent, 14 June 1981 for
Vogue US. Photographed by Richard Avedon.
This photoshoot reflected natural beauty, and
seduction. Nastassja was heavily pregnant reflecting a
different type of ideal body image.
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Bonnie Berman for Vogue US.
The cover reflected the ideal sporty look, and healthy
body image which was both prominent and heavily
promoted throughout the 80s.
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Elle Macpherson and the Skyscraper.
Elle was known as the ideal young beauty of the time,
recently being noticed as a supermodel.
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Cordula Reyer, Vogue UK.
A modern day take on Victorian corsetry in an overtly
sexualised manner.
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Women in the 90s took a turn for a healthier physique. Toned
muscles and slender bodies were classed as the ideal shape, with
women of all ages beginning to take exercise and health very seriously
for the first time. Sharing a gym with males, also provoked the thought
of wanting to appeal to the opposite sex more, and sparked the need
and desire to work for it.
At the same time, women wanted to appear understated and less try
hard, aspiring to be the girl next door character, showcasing a fresh
and natural appearance.
Kate moss became an icon of the 90s, claiming the covers of fashion
magazines such as Vogue and Harpers Bazaar showcasing the waif
look which became reminiscent of the decade.
Moss had an average BMI at the time of 16, promoting a very
unhealthy image to her fans and fashion culture as a whole.
This was also the lowest BMI those aspired to achieve in recorded
history. In medical terms, this is considered as Anorexic and
extremely unhealthy.
Impossible to maintain ideal statistics continue to drop, whilst the
average US BMI in the 90s rose to 26.3. Idealised and promoted
figures such as Tara Reid and Penelope Cruz ranged from 17.5 and
19.6.
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Kate Moss, photography by Corrine Day. Vogue
UK.
One of Kate Moss earlier photographs showcasing
her slender, youthful, boyish and androygenous
figure which would become heavily sought after
for years to come.
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Clueless the movie was now a cult film, and lead to
groups of girls for the first time shopping, styling,
eating, dieting and living together, causing rivalry and
competition.
The introduction of the mean girls was apparent
allowing for bullying and torment in regards to weight
at school and college to begin.
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Charlize Theron.
Modern day film stars were taking to modelling for
magazines and other publications more and more,
adding a further realm of body shapes and sizes to
identify as the ideal one.
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The naughty noughties showcased an array of issues and debates
regarding body image and the ideal.
The size 0 trend continued to grow epidemically, whilst others argued
plus size models should be used more for magazine shoots to balance
the press and the impression on the reader.
Super skinny models were seen on the catwalks and many aspired to
be as thin as possible in response to the change.
In 2014, sexuality is at its highest in regards to females, even though
body shape has changed drastically from sexy to stick thin.
Media, magazines and press bombard readers with diets, fitness
regimes, celebrities and the skinny ideal.
Issues regarding weight and size continue to rise, with organisations
such as B-eat stepping in to prevent, treat and raise awareness of
eating disorders and natural body image.
The average us bmi is 27.5 In 2014, is the highest in history showing
a continued battle in regards of weight and image.
In comparison to those idealised, Kiera Knightly boasts a low bmi of
17.2, Whilst Natalie Portman comes in just healthy at 19.2.
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Photograph by Mario Testino.
This photograph shows the modern day bikini body
women are becoming more accustomed to aspiring
to, and considering as the ideal of the 21st century.
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2008 (Opposite Page)
This photograph epitimises the Size 0 trend which
became an epidemic, causing women to be almost
emaciated, with a 22inch waist. That of a 7 year old.
2009
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
The supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
promoted a super-slim, and almost unrealistic figure
in her early photoshoots.
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With the amount of people who are suffering with an
eating disorder is rising yearly, yet models seem to be
getting thinner and thinner over time regardless of
statistics and proven medical facts.
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Nothing tastes
as good as skinny
feels.
KATE MOSS
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YEAR P. MODEL/PHOTGRAPHER SOURCE
1900 05 A Gibson Girl Web Archive
01 06 Charles Dana Gibson Web Archive
02 07 Unknown The Theatre Company
03 08 Unknown Web Archive
04 09 Redfern Web Archive
05 10 Unknown Web Archive
06 11 Germain DeLage Web Archive
07 12 Lily Elsie Web Archive
08 13 Le Corset Thylsa Fashion Advertisment
09 14 Unknown Fashion Advertisment
10 15 An Edwardian Lady Mori Mento
11 16 Unknown Fashion Advertisment
12 17 Sofia Papazoc Web Archive
13 18 Unknown Web Archive
14 19 Unknown Web Archive
15 20 Unknown Web Archive
16 21 Unknown Vogue Fashion
17 22 Irene Castle Vogue Fashion
18 23 Padre Art Web Archive
19 24 Unknown Web Archive
20 27 Unknown Vogue US
21 28 Unknown Vogue US
22 29 Unknown Web Archive
23 30 Bebe Daniels Vogue US
24 31 Madame Chanel Web Archive
25 32 Edward Steichen Vogue UK
26 33 Edward Steichen Vogue US
27 34 Unknown Web Archive
28 35 Unknown Vogue Paris
29 36 Unknown Vogue Paris
30 39 Unknown Vogue UK
31 40 Unknown Vogue US
32 41 Unknown Vogue US
33 42 Unknown Web Archive
34 43 Unknown Vogue US
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YEAR P. MODEL/PHOTGRAPHER SOURCE
35 44 Unknown Web Archive
36 45 Carole Lombard The Everett
37 46 Unknown Vogue US
38 47 Unknown Lawson
39 48 Unknown Vogue UK
40 51 Unknown Web Archive
41 52 Edward Steichen Vogue Covers
42 53 Store Mannequins Web Archive
43 54 Anton Bruehl Vogue Covers
44 55 Unknown Web Archive
45 56 Rita Hayworth Web Archive
46 57 Anton Bruehl Vogue Covers
47 58 Rita Hayworth Vogue US
48 59 Unknown Vogue UK
49 60 Unknown Web Archive
50 65 Edward Steichen Vogue Covers
51 66 Marilyn Monroe Web Archive
52 67 Marilyn Monroe Web Archive
53 68 Unknown Vogue US
54 69 Marilyn Monroe Playboy US
55 70 Margie Harrison Playboy US
56 71 Unknown Swimwear Advertisment
57 72 Unknown Web Archive
58 73 Leombruno Bodi Vogue US
59 74 Unknown Vogue Covers
60 77 Unknown Vogue Patterns
61 78 Jean Patchett Vogue US
62 79 Joan Holloway Playboy US
63 80 Jean Shrimpton Vogue US
64 81 Audrey Hepburn Web Archive
65 82 Unknown Web Archive
66 83 Veruschka/H. Clarke Web Archive
67 84 Unknown Web Archive
68 85 Unknown Web Archive
69 86 Marisa Berenson Vogue US
YEAR P. MODEL/PHOTGRAPHER SOURCE
70 90 Twiggy Vogue UK
71 92 Veruschka/R. Avedon Web Archive
72 93 Helmet Newton Harpers Bazarr
73 94 Guy Bourdin Vogue Italy
74 95 Arthur Elgort Vogue US
75 96 Unknown Web Archive
76 97 Unknown Vogue US
77 98 Scanvill Vogue US
78 99 Unknown Web Archive
79 100 Unknown Web Archive
80 104 Guy Bourdin Chanel
81 106 Nastassja/R. Avedon Vogue US
82 107 Madonna Web Archive
83 108 Bonnie Berman Vogue Covers
84 109 Elle Macpherson Web Archive
85 110 Elle Macpherson Web Archive
86 111 Cindy Crawford Vogue US
87 112 Cindy Crawford Vogue US
88 113 Christie Turlington Vogue US
89 114 Cordula Reyer Vogue UK
90 117 Naomi Campbell Web Archive
91 118 Madonna/S. Meisel Vogue Italy
92 119 Cindy Crawford Web Archive
93 120 Kate Moss Vogue UK
94 121 Unknown Vogue US
95 122 Kate Moss Vogue Covers
96 123 Jean-Baptiste Mondino Vogue Covers
97 124 Charlize Theron Web Archive
98 125 M. Audrey/R. Marney Versace Advertisment
99 126 Unknown Web Archive
2000 129 Britney Spears Web Archive
01 130 Demarchelier Vogue UK
02 131 Caroline Murphy Web Archive
03 132 Angela Lindrall Vogue US
04 133 Mario Testinto Vogue US
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YEAR P. MODEL/PHOTGRAPHER SOURCE
05 134 Unknown Web Archive
06 135 Bianca Balti Playboy France
07 136 Karen Elson Vogue Canada
08 137 Unknown Vogue France
09 138 Rosie Huntington-Whiteley Web Archive
10 139 Unknown Stella McCartney
11 140 Daria Werbowy Vogue Paris
12 141 Coco Rocha Web Archive
13 142 Tilda Lindstam Vogue Italy
14 143 Kate Moss Playboy UK
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