The 1910’s was characterized by the Gibson Girl style. It was inspired by the newfound freedom’s that women were enjoying thanks to the suffrage movement. It is characterized by a slender frame with slight curves. The woman was meant to appear fragile but independent. The two most famous of these Gibson Girls were Camille Clifford and Evelyn Nesbitt. The hair style looks almost like an intentionally small top bun, with the hair pulled into a halo around the head.
The 1920s was the age of the infamous Flapper Girl, best emphasized by silent screen stars Olive Thomas and Alice Joyce. This was the time of low economic means, which means most women were skinny without having to diet. Women were to be young and vibrant, very stylish in appearance. Thin frames are the defining aspect of this era.
Next came the siren in the 1930s. The blond bombshell Jean Harlow had made her way to the big screen and she was causing ripples in beauty standards. Women had greater access to food, so figures started to become curvier. A thin waist was still popular though. Female sexuality was also becoming more popular, with women on TV beginning to show more of their bodies.
The 1940’s brought with it a small change that seemed as if to happen overnight. The ideal body shape was now slightly sharper and less shapely. Katharine Hepburn popularized the idea of a woman in charge, and she had strong facial features like defined and cheekbones. Woman started to wear more fitted suits or dresses that they put belts around.
The 1950’s brought back the curves and the idea of a blond bombshell, aka Marilyn Monroe. Instead of dieting, women were trying to gain weight. They even invented a pill to help women achieve the voluptuous ideals of the time. Specifically, women were trying to grow their chests.
The beauty ideals of the 1960’s could not have been more different from the previous decade. Now it was popular to be as skinny and straight as a toothpick. Thigh gaps were so popular, that the mini skirt was invented so that they could be shown off. Audrey Hepburn and Twiggy were iconic during this decade. They also helped lead women into relentless dieting cycles that we still see the effects of today.
The 1970’s brought along the pinup girls with big hair to frame their faces. Their bodies were lean and almost athletic-looking. Hips were supposed to be thinner than shoulders, and curves were typically frowned upon. The defining face of this era was Farah Fawcett and the Fawcett flip, her iconic hairstyle.
The 1980’s was the age of the supermodel. Long legs were seen on posters everywhere. Women were supposed to be tall and thin with abnormally long legs. Elle MacPherson and Linda Evangelista were the icons of the supermodel trend. Looking back through the decades, you can see how this evolved from the thinness of the 1960’s. Beauty standards simply involved women getting taller and just slightly more athletic looking.
The 1990’s was an era all of its own. Kate Moss popularized the grunge look, which looking back at it was almost scary. Women tried to lose their femininity in favor of a more androgynous look. Most of the time this manifested in extreme thinness, dark eyes, and pale skin. The effects of this style is still seen in beauty standards today.
The 2000’s focused more on being tone and fit. Performers like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera helped to popularize this idea. They gained abs and toned arms from their rigorous workout routines, and women everywhere started to emulate them.
Most recently, in the 2010s, beauty standards are kind of all over the place. Social media has allowed people to see others who share their body type, which bolsters their confidence. However, the most prominent ideal is a thin waist and a large butt. References to this ideal can be found in the most popular songs. Who knows what it will be in the 2020s!