The ‘ideal’ woman
Every day we are confronted with pictures of people with perfect bodies. The men in adverts have dreamy eyes and large muscles. The women in magazines are slender women with curves in all the right places. These images are shown as beautiful; the bodies are perfect and ideal. These photographs can often trigger the question ‘why can’t I look like that?’ or declarations of ‘she’s so lucky!’
It seems, however, that the women lucky enough to have the ‘ideal’ body change endlessly. The most desired body type is different depending on which country you look at and in what year. The Ancient Greeks thought women should be plump and full-bodied but the people of the Hans Dynasty thought the most appealing females had slim waists.
In many eras and cultures, it was considered beautiful to have pale or fair skin. This was true in the Hans Dynasty, in Renaissance Italy and in Victorian England. In Victorian England, pale skin was a sign of wealth and belonging to a high social class whereas darker skin suggested you had to work outside. Today, different cultures have different opinions on fair skin. It is still preferred in some countries, such as Japan. A lot of people in Japan regard fair skin as beautiful and there is even a market for skin whitening cosmetics. In modern England, however, many women use sun beds or fake tan in order to have tanned, golden skin. They believe it makes them look healthier.
Throughout the 21st century, the ‘ideal’ body has been very changeable. During the roaring 1920s, the ideal woman was flat chested and had an almost boyish physique. In the following decades, during the golden age of Hollywood, Marilyn Monroe set the standard. The dream woman was curvy with an hourglass figure.
Today, magazines show us photos of people with ‘the perfect body’. According to history, this doesn’t exist. Every body type was considered perfect and the ideal in some culture at some time. Despite what we see in magazines, we have thousands of years of different ideals to show us that, really, no body type is better than any other. Each and every body is beautiful.