The science behind the ‘perfect body’: Surgeon reveals why our idea of ​​beauty went from the ‘hourglass’ of the 1950s to the tiny waist and puffy lips of today

From the curvy, ultra-feminine silhouettes of the 1950s to today’s influencers with puffed lips and tiny waists, the “perfect” body type has changed decades after decades.

The shifts appear dramatic, leading some to wonder what the force was that drove the transformations.

An expert told DailyMail.com that beauty standards over time have been shaped by a complex mix of cultural, psychological and health issues.

Surgeon Mark Solomos MD explained that things like the post-World War II economic boom, the rise of diet culture in the 1960s, and today’s digital manipulation have shaped the perception of what is considered attractive.

The post-war era focused on hourglass figures such as Marilyn Monroe

“The changes in the ‘perfect’ body reflect broader societal shifts, including changes in fashion, media representation, cultural values ​​and advances in health consciousness,” said Solomos, an international plastic surgeon with A-list clients and who has appeared on TV shows. ’10 years younger’ and ‘Price of perfection’.

‘Psychological factors such as the desire for social acceptance and the impact of media on body image also play an important role.’

The 1950s: boom after the Second World War

The signature “look” of the 1950s was round, with an emphasis on the hourglass figure, which symbolized fertility and femininity, Solomos explained.

In part, this picture is explained by the post-war economic boom (and the ‘baby boom’), which saw women return to traditional gender roles after a conflict in which many women took on traditionally ‘male’ jobs.

In America, three million women quit their jobs and women’s magazines focused on domestic issues and the idea of ​​’the housewife’.

“The perfect example of this was Marilyn Monroe, Bridgitte Bardot and Jayne Mansfield – all seen as the ultimate pin-up,” Solomos said.

‘Their bodies were soft, lacked the tone we see today, were curvy and were stereotypically seen as the ideal in terms of feminine perfection.’

The 1960s: Rise of Diet Culture

Models like Twiggy epitomized the era

Models like Twiggy epitomized the era

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Twiggy made it acceptable to be slim, have small breasts and became the ultimate ‘clothes horse’

The ‘ideal’ woman became slimmer and more youthful, almost androgynous.

Accompanied by a counterculture that rejected many of the ideas of previous generations, the 1960s also saw a boom in the diet industry.

Models like Twiggy epitomized the era, Solomos said, with feminism leading to a growing rejection of the idea of ​​the “housewife” and the post-war Baby Boom, which meant much of the population was teenagers.

“This change was influenced by the rise of youth culture, the feminist movement and the introduction of the contraceptive pill,” Solomos said.

‘The swinging sixties were hedonistic, free love and rock ‘n’ roll.

‘It was acceptable for women to wear tight trousers and still look sexy. Twiggy made it acceptable to be slim and have small breasts and became the ultimate ‘clothes horse’. The fashion of the ’60s was more in line with the boyish build and pixie-style haircuts.’

The 1970s: Rise of Body Positivity

The ideal body became more diverse, reflecting broader societal shifts towards body positivity and acceptance of different shapes and sizes.

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The ideal body became more diverse in the 1970s, reflecting broader societal shifts towards body positivity and acceptance of different shapes and sizes. Farrah Fawcett epitomized the era

Time Magazine declared 1975 the “Year of the Women,” writing, “They have arrived in male America like a new wave of immigrants.

“They may be police officers, judges, military officers, telephone linemen, taxi drivers, pipe fitters, editors, businessmen – or mothers and housewives, but not quite the same subordinate beings as before.”

“This era saw the rise of models like Lauren Hutton and Farrah Fawcett, who represented natural beauty and athleticism,” Solomos said.

‘These women began to take on many masculine roles and wore ‘power suits’ to reflect this. They combined motherhood with work, so they embraced their femininity and curves in wide legs and blouses.”

The 1980s: fitness boom

The 1980s saw both a fitness boom and a shift towards ‘bolder’ looks for women, epitomized by the ‘big shoulders’ in 1980s clothing.

Icons like Jane Fonda and Cindy Crawford popularized the idea of ​​a fit and athletic body.

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Icons like Jane Fonda and Cindy Crawford popularized the idea of ​​a fit and athletic body

‘This was influenced by the fitness craze of the time and the emphasis on health and wellness, Solomos explains.

‘Healthy’ was on most women’s lips and saw diet trends emerge. Women wanted to be slim and still look feminine and feminine.

The 1990s: models became role models

Ironically, the ‘perfect’ female body became thinner and thinner as the World Health Organization sounded the alarm about the world’s obesity epidemic.

‘Waif’ bodies were in and the buzzword was ‘heroin chic’ as models championed a body image that was unattainable for many women.

“The ideal body was characterized by a combination of fitness and thinness, epitomized by models like Kate Moss and Jodie Kidd,” Solomos said.

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The look was epitomized by models like Kate Moss and Jodie Kidd

‘The boyish, flat, wiry limbs dominated the catwalk and this reflected the rise of the supermodel and the influence of the media which promoted slimness as fashionable.

‘Nobody wanted big boobs or a big derriere, the trend was a small flat bottom, small breasts and ultra panty bodies with prominent hipbones and sharp cheekbones.’

The 2000s to the Present: Digital Manipulation

Technology is starting to shape our idea of ​​the ‘ideal’ female body, with looks inspired by airbrushing, filters and an ‘almost AI’ look.

The rise of influencers has shifted society towards a more digital idea of ​​beauty, and competing trends such as body positivity and Ozempic have reshaped our ideas about the female body.

‘Social media and digital manipulation have played a major role in shaping beauty standards, with influencers and celebrities influencing the perception of beauty. When you think of reality stars today, there is a common look, almost AI,” Solomos said.

The choice of big, puffy lips, big eyes, strong eyebrows, small waist, full but not overly large breasts, bigger buttocks seems to be a 'look' that many Generation Z strive for - and that seems to be what Kim Kardashian looks like

The choice of big, puffy lips, big eyes, strong eyebrows, small waist, full but not overly large breasts, bigger buttocks seems to be a ‘look’ that many Generation Z strive for – and that seems to be what Kim Kardashian looks like

‘The choice of big, inflated lips, big eyes, strong eyebrows, small waist, full but not too big breasts and larger buttocks seems to be a ‘look’ that many generation Z strive for, if you add filters, airbrushing and photoshop. , then the appearance is very similar.

‘The ideal body has continued to evolve, with trends towards a more toned and shapely yet slim body – the ideal word being ‘strong’.’

‘What will happen next is difficult to predict definitively, but there is a growing movement towards body positivity, inclusivity and acceptance of diverse body types. There is also an increasing emphasis on health and wellbeing rather than on achieving a specific aesthetic ideal.

“However, social trends and cultural influences will continue to shape perceptions of beauty in complex ways.”