100 Years of Body Image

100 Years of Body Image

March 13, 2015

I found this pin on Pinterest recently, highlighting the past 100 years of body image for women in the US.  It’s an incredible progression of the definition of beautiful, from skinny waists to no curves to big breasts to long legs.  Every decade has a signature look that is most idealized. While many of us (myself included!) would like to believe we take an independent approach to defining beauty, it is hard to argue against the impact that society has on this definition.  Through models, music, movies, and magazines, media has a strong hold on letting us know what is or is not acceptable when it comes to positive body image.  It’s engrained into most everything we interact with.

What I notice as I look through the 100 year review is a pendulum pattern.  Decades where curves are beautiful are soon followed by a period in which petite and delicate figures are the ones to strive for.  Interestingly, it seems these patterns are based on characteristics that are not in an individuals control to achieve, or at least not easily.  Broad shoulders will be broad shoulders no matter what I do.  Should perception of my own beauty be placed so heavily on things I have limited control over? The ideal answer is no, but so much pressure is placed on having these ever changing body types, that it is hard not to feel defeated at times.

I hope to see a decade soon where the “ideal” body type isn’t just one, but is a variety of shapes, sizes, and features.  Where body image isn’t tied to a look, but is promoted as a mindset of appreciating the body you’ve been given instead of striving for someone else’s.  This will require work on each of our parts to recognize our biases, our points of vulnerability, and our willingness to let our concept of beauty be defined by ourselves instead of others.  I think it’s possible and hope you can join in this important shift in thought!

Do you have a part of your body you need to learn to love instead of strive to change? How can you promote positive body thought for yourself and those around you?

We look forward to hearing your thoughts!