Big, beautiful eyes, a pixie haircut, 5’6” tall and stick thin — at the age of 16 Leslie Lawson turned into the world's most famous model of the times and earned her professional name of Twiggy.
Prior to this time, the ideal woman was a size 12. However, their waist size was a full 6 inches smaller than women of today. Voluptuous and womanly was sexy. Marylin Monroe was a size 16. Zsa Zsa Gabor and Sophia Loren were size 10. All were considered to be the most attractive and sexiest women of their time.
With the advent of Twiggy, the entire opinion of what makes a woman desirable changed. Skinny was in, curvy was out. This has gone on for decades long after most young girls have a clue who Twiggy was — being thin is simply what one is supposed to do and how you are supposed to be.
Dieting, drug cocktails, anorexia/bulimia, and low self-esteem have gone on for decades. Women have died to look like the ideal female. As famously stated in the movie, The Devil Wears Prada, “I’m one stomach flu away from my goal weight”.
Karen Carpenter died from heart failure related to her attempts to lose weight. Margaux Hemmingway suffered from bulimia at the time of her death, and now Lisa Marie Presley has passed away from her efforts to look good for an awards ceremony.
If you are of millennial age, your body image assumptions will have in some way been influenced by your mother, just like hers were determined by the generation before her. If you want to fit into society, you need to mold your body to fit within the attractive spectrum at all costs.
Will Gen Z change for the healthier? They are more open, educated, progressive and diverse than those before them. They are also the TikTok generation where “how much I eat in a day” and airbrushing of photos and reels is a common thing. “I want to look like you” is a common comment aimed at those who appear to have the desired body shape.
Let’s celebrate those who are positive role models for healthy bodies. Adele, Oprah Winfrey, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, Melissa McCarthy, Demi Lovato, and Serena Williams are all beautiful women. They harken back to the voluptuousness of old, while remaining progressive and healthy in their body image and the confidence they show the world.
Be who you are. Stay healthy, get a bit of exercise, eat your veggies, and love your body just the way it is.
There are a lot of cycles to change and chains to break, let’s make this one of them.