Body ideals throughout the 20th century in particular have always seemed somewhat unattainable. Whether it was the stick-straight figures of the ’20s, or the long-legged, tightly sculpted bods of the ’80s, there was always something absurd about the image of “perfection.”
However, today, I think we may have finally gone too far. 2015’s ideal body type is almost a Frankenstein-like combination of all the ideal body types from the previous decades. With celebs like Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian at the forefront of beauty, today’s “standards” have become almost mythic in their absurdity.
Yes, I know Beyoncé and Kim are real, flesh and blood women, but they’re also insanely wealthy women who can afford to get countless expensive procedures to keep up their “ideal” bodies. Moreover, they spend a significant portion of their lives training and dieting — something which most normal women can’t take the time to do. As a result, these large-breasted, tiny wasted, large butt-ed, thigh-gapped glamazons are making us feel as far from the “ideal” as the original Disney princesses.
One Cosmo writer notes that this path toward the unattainable started back in the ’80s with Jane Fonda’s workout tapes, which made women think if they did them, they’d look just as fit as her. While I agree the fitness craze definitely catapulted beauty standards into the stratosphere, the obsession started long before the turn of the 20th century.
After hoop skirts came the corset/bustle look, which is essentially what Kim Kardashian is doing today, only she’s using her God-given glutes instead of a metal cage. While corsets may have been dangerous shapewear — breaking ribs and encouraging anorexia — I don’t think it’s any more dangerous than posting pictures of the #BellyButtonChallenge everywhere. Today, we simply have more ways of showing people what “standards” they’re not meeting, and offering absurd diets and fitness regimes as remedies. At least back then you had legitimate tools to help you achieve them. Today, either your body has it or it doesn’t.
As a result of this truly impossible body ideal, people are turning more and more to plastic surgery — or what I like to call the medical corset. Dr. Stephen J. Greenberg, a top plastic surgeon currently starring on Bravo’s Secrets and Wives, told Cosmo, “Women are asking for larger, but more natural-looking breasts as well as enhanced buttocks, rounder hips, and slimmer thighs.” Simply put, they want Kim Kardashian’s body, but they want it to look like they achieved it without surgical help.
Dr. Greenberg says the requests for fat removal from one area only to add it back to another are higher than ever — if they were using fat from other women, it would literally be Frankenstein-esque. These types of surgeries could wreak havoc on your body. Plastic surgeon Dr. David Hidalgo told Cosmo, “There are potentially damaging physiologic consequences, including restricted breathing from interference with normal movement of the diaphragm, pooling of blood in the legs which could encourage clots to form, and interference with function of the gastrointestinal tract.” Sounds a lot like the effects of the constricting methods from 100 years ago, doesn’t it?
It’s already been proven that cartoon characters like Ariel and Jessica Rabbit wouldn’t be able to stand upright if they were real on account of their tiny waists and large breasts and hips. So why are we heading further and further down that road?