Tuned in: Lady Gaga, Born This Way
November and December are holiday months in America and other countries when an emphasis is often placed on food. Many delectable and savory dishes are prepared to celebrate a day of thanksgiving and a variety of religious events. However, it’s also a time when men, and especially women, worry about their weight and what and what not to eat. This made me think about how a woman’s body image has changed over time, and the concept of an ideal look.
According to some researchers and experts, the ‘Rubens’ image dominated the ideal up until the 1890’s when women began to be used in advertising. It appears that only after the 1900’s did the ideal of thinness began to creep into the culture. Before then a full-figured ‘voluptuous’ looking woman represented ‘good health and wealth.’
With the turn of the 20th century, women began to become interested in athletics and weight control as a healthy science. An ideal look at this time was a 5’4” 140 pound woman. In the 1920’s the flapper style became the fad. The style pulled away from the sophisticated and feminine and focused on a youthful, boyish look. Flappers bobbed their hair, had small waists and wore dresses that flattened their breasts. By the 1930’s women were moving back toward fuller breasts and a slim waist.
After World War II, women’s magazines began to promote a ‘New Look’ introduced by Christian Dior. In order to maintain this look, women focused on weight control more than ever. Diets supplemented by the aid of corsets and pushup bras were the rage. This look held the stage through the 1940’s and 1950’s until the 1960’s when a model named Twiggy burst onto the fashion scene. Twiggy set a standard that most models found difficult to maintain. She stood 5’6’ tall and weighed 89 pounds. From the 1970’s on, the trend has moved to a bit bigger look for women, but the emphasis on a small waist, slim hips and bigger breasts has taken root. Today younger girls are drawn into the fashion world through advertising and marketing. They are influenced by this ‘ideal body image.’ More women of a variety of ages, races, and economic backgrounds deal with moderate to severe eating disorders because of their desire to maintain this standard. At one time or another, some will experience a negative body image. What is the cause for the dissatisfaction many women feel?
In my opinion, it’s the pressure to maintain this ideal image and to be considered a woman of value, beauty, and one who has a certain control and discipline. Historically speaking, I prefer the look of the past. What happened to the idea of naturally round, full and lush? These attributes once conveyed their own provocative and sensual appeal. Not so much today. Why do some women routinely deny themselves calorically or lead secret lives of binging and purging? Why are younger women, even in their teens, and in their natural bloom paying money to enlarge their breasts? In other countries, including America, if you wear larger than a size 1, 2, or 4 you can’t even shop in certain stores. Let’s end this madness. Let everyone enjoy the holiday foods in moderation and guilt free. We are so much more than a pant or dress size. Humans are miracles of creation, fancies of nature. Let’s really believe in the beauty of our diversities. Any Thoughts?