Photo: Instagram @blogilates
The Kardashian family is, arguably, the collective royalty of social media—and the onslaught of butt workouts, waist trainers, and detox teas promising to score you Kim and Khloé's genetic hip-to-waist ratio is proof of just how potent their influence has been. Though curvy figures like theirs are in vogue now, they haven't always been the "to-die-for" body type. In fact, it's easy to forget how much beauty standards have changed over time.
For the last few decades, the "ideal" female body has continuously changed—like fashion trends—to reflect pop culture. And, although chasing this changing beauty standard is totally fruitless, many women still feel like they need to look a certain way to feel beautiful.
To draw attention to just how ridiculous that is, Cassey Ho, the fitness diva behind Blogilates, recently took to Instagram to serve up a reality check. In two photoshopped photos of herself, Ho morphs her body (with the help of some sort of editing app) to fit the ideal body standard of today and that of various times through history. "If I had the 'perfect' body throughout history, this is what I'd look like," she wrote alongside the photos. (Related: See How a Bikini Competition Totally Changed Ho's Approach to Health and Fitness)
If I had the “perfect” body throughout history, this is what I’d look like. . Mid 2010s-2018 - Big butts, wide hips, tiny waists, and full lips are in! There is a huge surge in plastic surgery for butt implants thanks to Instagram models posting “belfies”. Even cosmetic surgery doctors have become IG-famous for reshaping women. Between 2012-2014, butt implants and injections rise by 58%. . Mid 90s-2000s - Big boobs, flat stomachs, and thighs gaps are in. In 2010, breast augmentation is the highest performed cosmetic surgery in the United States. It’s the age of the Victoria’s Secret Angel. She’s tall, thin, and she’s always got long legs and a full chest. . Early 90s - THIN IS IN. Having angular bone structure, looking emaciated, and super skinny is what’s dominating the runways and the magazine covers. There’s even a name for it: “heroin chic”. . 1950s - The hourglass shape is in. Elizabeth Taylor‘s 36-21-36 measurements are the ideal. Marilyn Monroe’s soft voluptuousness is lusted after. Women are advertised weight gaining pills to fill themselves out. Playboy magazine and Barbie are created in this decade. . 1920s - Appearing boyish, androgynous and youthful, with minimal breasts, and a straight figure is in! Unlike the “Gibson Girl” of the Victorian Era, women are choosing to hide their curves, and are doing so by binding their chests with strips of cloth to create that straight figure suitable for flapper dresses. . 1400-1700 The Italian Renaissance - Looking full with a rounded stomach, large hips, and an ample bosom is in. Being well fed is a sign of wealth and status. Only the poor are thin. . Why do we treat our bodies like we treat fashion? “Boobs are out! Butts are in!” Well, the reality is, manufacturing our bodies is a lot more dangerous than manufacturing clothes. Stop throwing your body out like it’s fast fashion. . Please treat your body with love & respect and do not succumb to the beauty standard. Embrace your body because it is YOUR own perfect body. #blogilates #theperfectbody
She continued by breaking down exactly how society's aesthetic ideals have changed over the decades, starting with the 2010s era (aka right now). "Big butts, wide hips, tiny waists, and full lips are in," she wrote. "There is a huge surge in plastic surgery for butt implants thanks to Instagram models posting 'belfies.' Even cosmetic surgery doctors have become Instagram-famous for reshaping women. Between 2012–2014, butt implants and injections rise by 58 percent." (Related: This Habit You Learned Growing Up Can Seriously Mess with Your Body Image)
Take it back a decade (to the mid '90s and 2000s) and, "big boobs, flat stomachs, and thighs gaps" were in, Ho noted. "In 2010, breast augmentation is the highest performed cosmetic surgery in the United States," she wrote.
The '90s, on the other hand, were all about being "thin," and "having angular bone structure," wrote Ho. Hop back a few more decades, and you'll notice the '50s were the age of the hourglass shape. "Elizabeth Taylor's 36-21-36 measurements were the ideal," she wrote. "Women were advertised weight gaining pills to fill themselves out." (See: Why Losing Weight Won't Automatically Make You Happy)
Rewind to the '20s and, "appearing boyish, androgynous and youthful, with minimal breasts, and a straight figure" was the trend. During this time, women were choosing to hide their curves by "binding their chests with strips of cloth to create that straight figure suitable for flapper dresses." Finally, if you go as far back as the Italian Renaissance, Ho points out that, "looking full with a rounded stomach, large hips, and an ample bosom" was the status quo. "Being well fed was a sign of wealth and status," she wrote. "Only the poor were thin." (Related: This Influencer Is Making an Important Point About Why You Shouldn't Trust Everything You See On Social Media)
While what is considered attractive has changed considerably over time, one thing has remained the same: the pressure for women to fit the mold. But by breaking things down, Ho hopes that women will realize that the pressure to conform is often unrealistic, not to mention unhealthy.
Weight. Why do we let our weight control our emotions? Why do we give the scale so much power? There was a time when I would step on the scale...see a number that was higher than I wanted...and completely BREAK. On the contrary, if I stepped on the scale and saw a lower number, I’d feel so good. I had a problem. . It got so bad that I threw away my scale and swore to never step on one again! I didn’t step on a scale for a few years. And honestly, it gave me the space I needed to heal. . However, it didn’t cure the problem. . The problem wasn’t the scale. It never was. It was my FEAR of it. It was the way I let it DICTATE my self worth. And to remove the scale from my life was like ignoring my problem. I just didn’t want to be scared anymore. I wanted to be STRONGER than the scale. I wanted to face it head on. And the only way to battle it was to step on it again. . So...a few months ago I decided to step on the scale again because I wanted to track my fitness progress. And yes, the first time I saw my number, I was devastated. BUT. At least I conquered my fear of stepping on it at all. . The next step was to remove my emotional attachment from the number. How? I kept telling myself “this is just a data point.” That’s it. Just a data point. I’m not prettier or uglier because of it. I just have more information. . What also helped was tracking my body fat percentage and muscle mass too. My overall weight number became less and less important because it wasn’t the only number. It was just one of three. . I’m happy to report to you that the scale no longer controls me as much as it once did. Of course there are days I have my moments...but I catch myself getting emotional, and I repeat to myself “it is just a data point.” And that’s it. Hope that helps any of you going through a messed up scale relationship. #blogilates
This is true, not only in relation to the decade you live in but also where you live. As we've previously reported, the "perfect body" ideal is actually different all around the world. While Chinese women feel pressure to be stick thin, those in Venezuela and Columbia are celebrated for their curves and even prefer a body type that would be in the "overweight" BMI range.
The takeaway: Trying to fit an idealistic aesthetic is a lose-lose situation for women. (Check out these inspiring women who are redefining body standards.)
As Ho puts it: "Why do we treat our bodies like we treat fashion? 'Boobs are out! Butts are in!' Well, the reality is, manufacturing our bodies is a lot more dangerous than manufacturing clothes. Stop throwing your body out like it's fast fashion." (Related: Where the Body-Positivity Movement Stands and Where It Needs to Go)
At the end of the day, regardless of what your body might look like, it's far more important to practice healthy habits and take care of the skin you're in. "Please treat your body with love & respect and do not succumb to the beauty standard," says Ho. "Embrace your body because it is YOUR own perfect body."
No matter the time or place, self-love is always ~in~.