December 3, 2015

It occurred to me that the ‘desirable’ form for women’s bodies has changed. “Of course,” you say, “we know that.” The ideal form has changed dramatically over hundreds of years: think back to the voluptuous bodies depicted by 14th-16th century Renaissance artists, and compare that to 19th century Victorian-era waistless-ness. Dramatically different, I think you’d agree.

The interesting thing is that this change took place over the course of some 300 years. What about a more contemporary example?

The super-model era of the mid 1990’s saw the influence of fashion and the ‘ideal’ woman as long and very lean. Many models were skinny. Media publicity exploded and the emerging art of photo-shopping saw women everywhere being subconsciously pressured to be super-thin, with perfect hair, skin, teeth, and clothes. This ideal was doomed to fail, of course, as super-models are genetically designed to look the way they do, but for we mere mortals it was an impossible dream.

Not even 20 years later we see a different ‘ideal’. This time around it’s desirable to be stronger, with a little muscle definition (but not too much, of course, lest we look too masculine!) and definitely with a shapely bottom. None of the pancake-butt of the ‘90’s; now a booty is the place to be.

While we can’t argue with the idea that a strong body is functionally better – and more achievable – than a skinny one for the majority of the female population, it’s a worry that there has to even be a ‘desirable’ size or shape.

What would be wrong with being tall and lean, or short and stocky, or carrying a little bit of extra body fat, or having big breasts or small breasts or round butt or wide one or any other physical feature you can imagine?


Nothing is wrong with the way we look. Problems arise, of course, if we’re carrying too much extra body weight and it’s causing health concerns, but in general we should accept that we all look different just as we all walk and talk and eat and love differently to everyone else. And it’s all OK.

The beauty about getting older is that you care less about what the media and society tell you is good. If you’re a woman of mature years, compare your attitudes with those of the teenaged you. Chances are that these attitudes are vastly different. Hopefully as we get older we become more accepting of our natural attributes, and less critical of perceived flaws.

Have a look at Dove’s Real Woman campaign or at the athletes sponsored by a new range of athletic clothing, Grrrl to see how ‘desirable’ might be changing.

We can all be part of the change. We can start by loving our own bodies, or at least working towards developing a love for them: what they look like, what they can do, how they function, and how they’re uniquely different to every other woman’s body.

Enjoy, appreciate and celebrate.