Ideals of beauty have been discussed at great length with 15th and 16th century women being compared to modern idols, but few people notice just how much our ideals have changed in just over a century. It's no longer relevant to compare rubenesque women of the past to modern icons as we now look to screen and magazine icons to dictate our ideals. Take a look at the subtle transformation:
At this point in history, slenderness was becoming more fashionable. The 1900s saw the invention of the bra and women looked to Gibson Girl Camille Clifford, with her hourglass figure and towering hair, as the new ideal.
The 20s saw a post-war revolution where women abandoned the traditional notions of femininity and began binding their breasts to achieve a washboard figure suitable for the flapper dresses. A cropped haircut was the norm and film star Clara Bow was celebrated as an icon of the time.
Taller women came into fashion in the 30s, as opposed to the shorter women of the decade before, and narrow hips were the ideal, as seen here on Greta Garbo. Somewhere between the harsh waistlines and long hemlines of the 1900s and the short skirts of the 20s, the 30s saw a return to a more wholesome looking woman.
Because of wartime restrictions, utilitarian clothing was most common amongst normal women so anyone with even a hint of glamour and femininity was revered. Dior’s new look was introduced and classically beautiful women such as Veronica Lake were idolized.
The post new look ideal was typified by the curvaceous stars of the time such as Marilyn Monroe. This era saw the launch of Playboy magazine and the idolization of the soft, coquettish woman with overt sexuality. In spite of Monroe’s curvy build, her weight and size are often reported to be bigger than she actually was.
In probably the biggest change in ideals in the 20th
After the cinched waists of the 50s and the super-slim models of the 60s, women began to revolt in the 70s. The cinema icon was no more and natural beauty reigned supreme. Farrah Fawcett, with her blown-out waves and natural makeup, demonstrated a mixture of the hippy ideals of beauty and the early disco trends.
The 80s saw women step into the limelight as careerism and power-dressing was rampant. In spite of the harshly manufactured garments, beauty was somewhere between overdone and unkempt. Strong brows and big hair were commonplace but natural makeup was nowhere to be seen. Model Brooke Shields was an icon of the time.
There were two main ideals in the 1990s. On one side there were the glamazon models such as Cindy Crawford, with their athletic, but curvaceous, figures, and waif Kate Moss, who sparked a revolution not only in modeling but also consumer fashion.