Thousands of years ago, sculptures and artworks portrayed curvaceous, thickset silhouettes. More recently, in the late 20th century, thin, waif-like models filled the pages of fashion magazines. Now, shapely backsides are celebrated with "likes" on social media. To mark International Women's Day, we explore how this "ideal" is ever-changing, forming a complex history throughout art and fashion -- with damaging impacts on women who try to conform in each era.
Photos: Perceptions of beauty throughout history.
The Expectation of Beauty
The "Venus of Willendorf" figurine dates to about 25, BC and is considered a masterpiece of the Paleolithic era. Some historians point to the 4-inch statuette as a representation of idealized female beauty at the time. Hide Caption. The marble sculpture "Venus de Milo" dates to about BC. The 6-foot-tall statue is commonly thought to represent Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of sexual love and beauty. The oil painting is an example of how the painter often depicted women with curvy, full-figured bodies.
A photo of Bianca Lyons, circa The actress' curves are emphasized by her corset. The full-length illustration depicts a fashionably dressed flapper with a slender body. Lesley Lawson, known as Twiggy, in She was famous for her lean body type, which became a popular image in fashion magazines during that time..
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Supermodel Naomi Campbell walks the runway in During this era, slender yet strong supermodels became idealized images of beauty. Supermodel Kate Moss, photographed for Calvin Klein in , had a slim body type -- often described as waif-like -- that became popular. Reality star Kim Kardashian, in , who often poses in a way to showcase her posterior. The term " belfie " -- a butt selfie -- was reportedly coined by Kardashian herself.
Body image experts are hopeful that a new era will usher in more such body-positive images and attitudes. In , toy manufacturing company Mattel announced the expansion of its Barbie Fashionistas doll line to include three body types -- tall, curvy and petite -- as well as a variety of skin tones and hair styles.
Some of the earliest known representations of a woman's body are the " Venus figurines ," small statues from 23, to 25, years ago in Europe. The figurines -- including the "Venus of Willendorf," found in at Willendorf, Austria -- portray round, pear-shaped women's bodies , many with large breasts.
Experts have long debated whether the figurines symbolize attractiveness or fertility.
In ancient Greece, Aphrodite, the goddess of sexual love and beauty , was often portrayed with curves. A statue commonly thought to represent Aphrodite, called the Venus de Milo , depicts small breasts but is shaped with a twisted figure and elongated body, characteristic of that time period. Artists continued to portray the "ideal" woman as curvy and voluptuous all the way through to the 17th and 18th centuries.
The 17th century Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens was even the namesake of the term " rubenesque ," meaning plump or rounded, as he often depicted women with curvy body types. Corset training, a celebrity weight loss trend, largely busted. To achieve this in reality, the corset became a popular undergarment among women in the Western world from the late Renaissance into the 20th century.
Expectation Quotes - BrainyQuote
It helped accentuate a woman's curves by holding in her waist and supporting her bosom. As societal views of a woman's body changed over time, so did the shape and construction of the corset, also sometimes referred to as stays. The 18th-century stay mirrored a cone-shaped silhouette, but by the s, shorter stays emerged, resembling proto-brassieres, which complemented the new fashion trend of high-waisted dresses. That's true for skirts as well," McClendon said. In the s, American artist Charles Dana Gibson drew images of tall, slim-waisted yet voluptuous women in illustrations for mainstream magazines, and these depictions of the new feminine ideal were referred to as the " Gibson Girl.
the expectation of beauty
Photos: This expressionist painted the world's most radical nudes -- years ago. Egon Schiele: The Radical Nude , an exhibition at London's Courtauld Gallery, looks at the Austrian Expressionist's technically exquisite and sexually explicit depictions of the human form. Frank, personal and explicit: Egon Schiele's groundbreaking nudes — Standing Nude with Stockings, Though widely lauded by art historians today, Schiele's nudes initially drew intense criticism from traditionalists and the public.
A coy, blushing nude could be a masterpiece, but his challenging figures were considered more pornographic than artistic.
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Unnatural and difficult to hold, they were an obvious departure from the natural, modest ones adopted by nudes until that point. Verizon Media will also provide relevant ads to you on our partners' products.
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