Friday, 16 December 2011

The ideal body

I have talked about the ideal body when it comes to the ideal movie stars, but how about the ordinary woman? Well, slim is pretty much the ideal now and it was the ideal back then too. However, it didn’t mean exactly the same thing as it does today. The thin athletic body that we see on fashion spreads today is not the same as the slim, but still rather curvaceous ideal of the 1940’s.

I have no doubt that women back then were concerned about their looks and their weights, but I think the difference between a model and what was considered a normal woman was much smaller than it is today. We are constantly told that people in the Western world are constantly getting bigger, but the models only get thinner. The ideal body 70 years ago was probably much easier to achieve than it is today.

Ideal weight and body measurements for a woman of my height, 1.70 centimeters according to my beauty books was:

Wight: 60-65 kilos
Chest: 88-89 cm
Waist: 67-70 cm
Upper hips: 87-89cm
Lower hips: 92-95 cm

This actually is pretty much the numbers for Myrna Loy, who also was 170 cm tall:
Weight: 62.5 kilos
Chest: 86 cm
Waist: 67 cm
Lower hips: 92 cm

Then consider that the ideal measurements for the same height that model agencies and fitness experts today are:
Chest: 86 cm
Waist: 60 cm
Hips: 86 cm

If you consider that 1 cm difference on the waist measurement generally means one kilos difference, then the ideal weight in the 1940’s were 7-10 kilos more than today… Just because I’m curious, I went back in my sewing journal and checked out my body measurements when my weight was 65 kilos:
Chest: 102 cm
Waist: 72 cm
Hips: 98 cm

Definitely more than the forties ideal, but then I have always had a very hour-glassed shape. And way, way more than the model ideal of today.

So, what advice to my book gives me as to maintain the ideal body?

A) Make sure you maintain a good blood circulation with the help of exercise walks and massage.
B) Eat food in proper proportions, of good and varied quality.
C) Make sure you sleep and rest as much as your body need!

But, even if the book advices against too much fat in the body, it also strongly advice against too little too! If you are too skinny, then you can cure that with eating many small delicious meals during the day to stimulate the appetite! Sweets, cream and lots of bread are excellent ways to make sure you don’t get too slim!

Last, here are some of the 1940’s problem areas, according to a magazine in 1940.

(Picture sources:


Lauren said...

Fascinating post! I much prefer the 1940's ideal. Women looked more like mature women, and less like teens. I'm sure everyone had their image problems then as well, of course. I'm thankful for the uprise of blogs. I get most of my fashion/style inspiration from those, of real women posting about their style, than from the magazines :)

Isis said...

Lauren: Glad you enjoyed it! I was thinking the same visavi blogs recently when I bought a Vogue. I see more inpirational picture in blogs than in that glossy magazine and they are modeled by woman who are "ordinary". I'm very grateful to be able to see all these beautiful women of ALL shape and sizes.

Yadira said...

This is super interesting, I love to see how the ideals evolve through the time. Have a nice day!

Vivian said...

That is actually very interesting, not only because of fashion industry. Women these days look different than in the past, I have lot of pics of my grandmother, taken in 40s/50s and none of her friends were skinny, but you were right, because they were also not too tall. But what amaze me, is how fashion industry evolved since that time. As youre saying, women used to care more about the whole image, perfect hair, make up, outfit, and same with models - good looking ladies, pretty face, good proportion. These days models need to be super skinny and tall, flat chest, no make up, very symetric face. Thats why Im happy to see pin up models, they look like normal healthy women, they dont need to look like tall boys lol! I posed for pin up pictures myself and I really enjoyed that, in the "real" fashion industry I wouldnt have any chance for that, because Im only 156cm tall, I am naturally skinny, but I dont have perfect face.. and I am too old lol! But pin up doesnt judge :) Thanks for posting this, I was actually thinking about it myself lately, how everything has changed since 40s, 50s, not necessarly for better.

Isis said...

Yadira: Yes, I think that is very interesting too!

Vivian: I agree. And we are getting bigger, not just fatter, but taller too. And I so much more enjoy alternative models, like pin ups, because theior looks vary so much more!

Rowenna said...

I recall reading an article in a 40s issue of Vogue about, of all things, making sure your calves stayed slender--that is, not too muscular. It completely drove home the point for me about different eras having different ideals and body woes! I suppose as a modern woman I've been overly concerned about my hips...but never my calves :)

Isis said...

Rowenna: LOL! Yes, I must confess that I have never thought much about the shape of my legs...

Tia said...

I think the slim, curvaceous body types of the '40s are much more attractive than the emaciated models you see nowadays.

By the way, your blog is AMAZING! Can't wait to read more posts!!!

Isis said...

Tia: I agree with you!

Thank you! I hope you will enjoy reading more!

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