Home Style Beauty The "Ideal Woman" In 1938 Looked Like This


Photo Credit: Life Magazine

Time Magazine recently took a trip down memory lane, 77 years to be exact, to look at how standards of beauty have changed over time, and one thing's for certain. Intense scrutiny of women's bodies was around way before the invention of Photoshop. 

Time uncovered an old Life Magazine issue from 1938 that detailed the exact measurements women needed to possess in order to be considered attractive. 


Life Magazine proclaimed that 20-year-old model June Cox had the ideal body of the time with a height of 5 ft. 6 3/4 in. and a weight of 124 lbs. Not only did the magazine describe the most attractive body of the time, they also talked about what was wrong with 'ideal' bodies of the past. 

"As the American girl stressed sports, she grew taller and flatter. The boyish form became the vogue. With the recent return of the romantic influence in clothes, the soft, feminine figure is again back in style. Now, though, the ideal figure must have a round, high bosom, a slim, but not too wasp-like waist, and gently rounded hips," the author wrote.


Photo Credit: WomensForum

It's interesting to think about different body types coming in and out of style as if they were fashion trends. One hilarious anecdote from the Life article was the author's commentary on American women's 'problem areas'. 

“Because U.S. women sit down so much—in autos, at bridge tables, at desks and in the mirror—big hips are their most serious problem. On the whole, though, they have the kind of figures that prompted dumpy Elsa Maxwell to say ‘No French woman should be seen on the beach by her lover—all American women should.'” - LIFE

It's easy to ridicule the backwardness of these old articles, yet I would argue that the divisive dialogue surrounding an "ideal body" type continues today as opposed to a more inclusive mindset about women's many shapes and sizes.

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