A FEATURE LOOKING AT CONTEMPORARY BEAUTY IDEALS
1910’s Gibson Girls
Beautiful, tall and slender, the Gibson girls sported puffed chignons, full lips and an unbelievable hourglass silhouette referred to as the “s-bend” – a beauty ideal achieved only wearing uncomfortably tight corsets. Gibson girl are the first pin-up look that young women aspired to achieve.
1920’s Flapper Girls
In contrast to the tall and romantic looking of the previous decade, Flappers were short, feisty and bold. Taking lead from the practical styles of the First World War, hair was lopped off to create chin grazing bobs rather than the elaborate pompadours. Curves were no longer accentuated, but hidden, in the quest for a simpler line and a more tomboyish silhouette.
1930’s Hollywood Sirens
Woman’s curves of this era were considered sensual and healthy, this time in a slightly more realistic form, away from the intense corsetry of the 1900’s. The Golden Age of Hollywood had taken hold and screen stars such as Greta Garbo and Jean Harlow were the epitome of desirability.
1940’s Utility Women
As the Second World War took hold, women’s fashion and approach to beauty became increasingly utilitarian once again. Silhouettes became padded, hardened and aggressive to obtain a more masculine look suited to factory work. Despite the austere conditions, the 1940’s are credited with being the heyday of the ‘pin-up’ era. Curvaceous ladies were depicted in army dress arranged in various seductive poses and were considered symbols of good luck.
1950’s Hourglass Beauties
The 1950’s was the most prolific decade for fashion and icons. Christian Dior’s “New Look” had been unveiled in 1947, a breath of fresh air after years of fashion repression and fabric rationing, welcoming a whole new era of womanliness, incarnated by sex symbols such as Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot.
1960’s Mod Girls
The 1960’s once again reverted to the boyish form that the 20’s had become so recognisable for: the curvaceous bodies were replaced by the slight and slender frames. Whilst a boyish aesthetic was key to the 60’s look, make-up styles went in a completely opposing direction: fake lashes were a must have to obtain doll like, bigger and stronger eyes.
1970’s Disco Divas
Women of the 1970’s maintained previous decade’s slight frame, but with the reappearance of feminine definition. Oozing confidence and sex appeal in tight fitting jumpsuits, bell bottoms and glittering top, while the hairstyle was big and bouncy.
Athleticism became a key element of the feminine beauty ideals throughout the 80’s. Tall, leggy and with extraordinary bouffant hair, the top models strode off the catwalk to present the new feminine ideal: Glamour Amazons.
1990’s Thin Young Women
The 90’s ushered in a completely different representation of beauty: “Heroin Chic” was born, defined by the petite and gaunt look. Kate Moss, aged 14 when first photographed, was the poster child for this aesthetic. Embracing the boyish androgynous look that had been seen before in the 20’s and 60’s, Moss became the spokesperson for Calvin Klein, wearing oversized jumpers, baggy jeans and very little makeup.
Giselle Bundchen was credited with bringing “sexy back” and ending the era of “heroin chic”. Crowned by Rolling Stone as “the most beautiful girl in the world”, her bronzed athletic form led the way for a new generation of high fashion models. In 2001, the renowned “Victorias Secret Fashion Show” was born, displaying the brands underwear on their spokeswomen or “Angels” as they are referred to.
2010’s Bootylicious Babes
One of the defining words for this decade’s female body ideal has to be “bootylicious’”. From Kim Kardashian and Nicki Minaj to Iggy Azalea – curvaceous bodies have become a nowadays leading feature. Whilst the flowing silhouettes of the 50’s were soft, these modern women’s curves are gym-hardened. Tight clothes show off the voluptuous figures of today’s icons and nearly nude selfies or belfies are taking over the internet.
Like fashion trends, body and beauty ideals come and go, every few decades a past “style” returns and usurps the current norm.