The Hollywood Diet of the 1960s: Starving to be Skinny
In the 1960s, being thin was in. Society idealized a very specific body type: tall, waifish, and bone-thin. To achieve this look, women (and some men) would do whatever it took, even if that meant starving themselves. This radical dieting led to some serious health problems, but that didn’t stop people from pursuing the “ideal” body. Sharon Tate, Audrey Hepburn, and Twiggy were just a few of the many celebrities who epitomized this look. Let’s take a closer look at how they achieved their super-skinny physiques and the damage that was done in the process.
In the late 1960s, Sharon Tate was one of the most famous actresses in Hollywood. She was also one of the thinnest. At just 5’4″, Tate typically weighed around 100 pounds—and sometimes even less than that. To maintain her ultra-thin figure, Tate would severely restrict her caloric intake. She would often go entire days without eating anything at all or would allow herself only a small salad for dinner. Not surprisingly, this dangerous diet took a toll on her health; Tate suffered from fainting spells and chronic fatigue.
Like Sharon Tate, Audrey Hepburn was also dangerously thin. At just over 5′, Hepburn typically weighed around 110 pounds—30 pounds less than what is considered healthy for someone of her height. To stay so skinny, Hepburn would often skip meals or subsist on little more than coffee and cigarettes. She was also known to use ipecac syrup as a weight-loss tool; if she overdid it on calories, she would make herself vomit by taking large doses of the syrup. Unsurprisingly, this led to serious health problems later in life; at age 61, Hepburn died of anorexia nervosa.
Model Leslie Hornby—better known as Twiggy—was one of the first women to popularize the extremely thin body type that came to define the 1960s. Standing at just 5’6″, Twiggy typically weighed around 90 pounds. To stay so skinny, she would eat very little during the day and then compensate for her restricted diet by binging on sugary foods at night. This cycle of bingeing and purging took a toll on her health; Twiggy suffered from anemia and had to take iron supplements to stay healthy.
The “ideal” body type of the 1960s was impossibly thin—so impossibly thin that many women (and men) resorted to dangerous diets and unhealthy behaviors in order to achieve it. Thankfully, society’s definition of beauty has evolved since then and we no longer view extreme skinniness as attractive or desirable. Celebrities like Sharon Tate, Audrey Hepburn, and Twiggy may have been idolized for their waifish figures back in the day but today, we know better than to emulate them. Health is always more important than appearance!
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