Obesity was Once Called Beautiful?: The Changes of the Ideal Female Body From Past to Present


As we look at today’s so-called “the ideal female body,” most of us can see women with either a curvy body, slim, or fit body. Although us women would want a perfect body, the past era’s ideal female body was totally different compared to ours. Furthermore,  why has such distortions have occurred and has medicine have to do with anything to influence these changes? Let’s observe at how different the ideal female body was in the past to now through art observations.

First, let’s start at the Palaeolithic era, 20,000-30,000 B.C to the present time to see how women’s body were depicted as. As we can see in the following pictures, the women within those pictures were more of the type of, what today we would call it, obese or overweight.



The total body mass of these women were like over 30, but later into the Renaissance era, the body mass has decreased to 27 to 30.


However, back in those time periods, people would only consider these body types as “healthy,” “fertile,” and it were said that it expresses fecundity. Weird as it seems? Yes, indeed.


This ideal female beauty has continued on till the late of the 20th century, that’s when things had drastically changed since male artists started to despise how “big” the women were in art. So, that’s when commercial art, advertisements, and images of skinnier women started to appear. With those images running in our heads, we believe that’s the type of body women should have. Women started taking anti-conception pills, which had deemphasized their reproductive characteristics. As time goes by, the BMI has decreased immensely, which has caused women to become anorexic, eating disorders, and it also leads them to think about committing suicide.

A young woman is depressed looking in a mirror while the reflection is yelling an pointing at her self in anger.
A young woman is depressed looking in a mirror while the reflection is yelling an pointing at her self in anger.

Ever since the ideal female body has changed to being thin, us women are living in a men’s world, full of their fantasy and sexual desires. Still to this day, women are depicted more differently compared to the past eras. The affects of advertisements of being skinny and/or having birth control pills has impact women’s lives in a negative way.