Shape Shifting – A Reality Check on What’s sexy (Anka Radakovich)

I stumbled upon a very old magazine article about the history of the perfect female body. And I have decided to share its contents here in this blog. Firts I have to properly credit the people who wrote and published this article.

Shape ShiftingA reality check on What’s sexy by: Anka Radakovich (Grace Woman Magazine: winter 2002)

Throughout History, the “perfect” female body has cycled from skinny to curvy and back again. The “Ideal” shape, like fashion, can change on a whim. What is considered sexy in one era often has nothing to do with the next. One year women are propping their breasts up, the next they are pushing them down. The ideal body shape for men however,, has remained virtually unchanged for centuries.

Every period of History had its own standards of beauty, and body image trends coinciding with the fashion of the times. Western beauty ideal began in Classical Greece. The Greeks believed in balance, harmony and moderation with a shapely body as the idea of classical beauty.

In the late 16th and early 17th century of the Renaissance period, the painter Rubens depicted the round and robust babes of the day. The healthy look continued into the early 19th century with the fleshy ladies representing fertility.

By the 1880s of the Victorian era, women modified their figures with an exaggerated bustle skirt that reached ridiculous proportions¬† and created an S shape that looked like a shelf sitting on a woman’s rear end. (As seen in Seurat paintings.) To make it look even more ridiculous, women padded their tops with handkerchiefs to give the appearance of a hot “mono-bosom.” By the Edwardian era in the early 19th century, women with elaborately girdled corsetry suffered organ damage to get the tiny waist and hourglass figure of the Gibson girl.

The flapper look took over by the 1920s and suddenly being really skinny and having small breasts was considered chic. Cigarette companies like Virginia Slims advertised to women, encouraging them to smoke to stay slim.

Marilyn Monroe

The 1930s introduced the Hollywood Glamour Girl who brought back the curves while the 1940s ushered in the busty “sweater girl” look and shapely pin-up girl. In the 1950s the voluptuous Marilyn Monroe and Jane Mansfield were the epitome of sex appeal.

In 1963, Weight Watchers was founded and by 1966 Twiggy, who weighed in at 90 pounds hit the fashion scene.


IN the 1970s, the natural look was in as women burned their bras.

By 80s body building for women became popular, shoulder pads were everywhere, and a more muscular body was the power body.

80s shoulder pad look

Kate Moss 90s


This was followed by the early 1990s emaciated “heroin chic” look epitomized by Kate Moss.A year later it was the Madonna hard body look. By 1995, breasts became huge with plastic surgeons being asked by their patients to “go bigger”

So where are we now?

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