No Such Thing as ‘Perfect’: Experts Name The 7 Icons Who Changed the Female Form

Study of the ‘ideal’ female look since 1950 shows the evolution of fashion – and how we’re now more confident in our skins than ever

A recent study by beauty experts MYA has revealed how fickle the notion of an ‘ideal’ female look really is – and has put a spotlight on how the trends of yesteryear evolved into the focus on healthy shapes we have today. Over the years, we’ve seen aspirational trends change with our icons, so the team over at MYA have taken a deep dive into the history of beauty and created the ultimate timeline of our female idols throughout the ages, showing how they changed fashion forever.

1950s – Marilyn Monroe Defined the Pin-Up Figure

Think of a 1950s pin-up, and it’s fairly likely that Marilyn Monroe won’t be far from your mind! One of the most enduring idols of modern times, she launched a global lust for hourglass figures, as women cinched their waists to emulate bigger breasts and wider hips. Shorter hairstyles, especially pin curls and stylish up-dos proved popular, while women rocked a Marilyn red lip (still popular today), finished off with matte skin and cat eyeliner.

1960s – Twiggy Launched the Long Legs Trend

The arrival of flower power and feminism saw women all over the world throw off the shackles of cinched and tucked styles, to be replaced with long hair and more ‘fun’ make-up looks. Bouffant and back-combed beehives became all the rage, with women growing their hair out past their shoulders. False lashes also went mainstream for the first time, another trend that has continued into the modern day, while blues, greys and whites were worn in matte colour blocks on the lips. Meanwhile, 1960s icon Twiggy made long, slim legs the most desired body part in the world.

1970s – Farrah Fawcett made Fitness Fashionable

Farrah Fawcett’s flicky, feathered ‘do was top of everyone’s wish‑lists, while being toned and athletic became more popular than curves – the forerunner of the emphasis on health we see today. To further emulate Farrah, women dusted bronzer everywhere to give themselves a tanned, ‘outdoorsy’ glow, while just a little bit of shimmer shadow was enough for a minimal ‘70s look.

1980s- Cindy Crawford Cemented the Supermodel Body

Bigger was better in the ‘supermodel era’, which saw us either perm or backcomb our hair for a strong, ‘off-to-smash-the-glass-ceiling’ look! Heavy foundation acted as base for bright pink and plum blushers, with bright colours (often pink) also used on the eyes and lips. Cindy Crawford ruled the roost, pioneering a slim, toned and strong body shape.

1990s – Kate Moss Took Skinny To Extremes

The ‘90s saw the birth of two prevailing trends – grunge and Kate Moss. Although the term ‘heroin chic’ may seem a little strong, the media and catwalks promoted the slimmest, most androgynous bodies yet. Over-lined lips, over-plucked eyebrows and glittery butterfly clips are just three more trends that should stay firmly in history. However, the decade also brought us the smoky eye and a trend for a dark, matte lip – which are still just right for some sexy sophistication after dark.

2000s – Britney Topped the Tan Charts

The 2000s belonged to Princess of Pop Britney Spears – and her cute aesthetic encouraged women everywhere to have fun with fashion once again. Nude, glossy lips, colourful eye shadow and rosy cheeks made getting ready fun, while tans and athleticism became fashionable once again. Hair was worn with a fringe, and either straightened, or even crimped!

2010s – Kim K Kalled for Body Konfidence

In recent years, the Kardashians have brought us full circle back to a healthy yet curvy look, where being healthy & comfortable in your body is everyone’s top priority. Hair is dip-dyed and worn in a variety of half-updos and fun styles, while contouring and smoky eyes are used to highlight natural features.

John Ryan, Chairman of MYA Cosmetic Surgery Ltd. commented, “Body confidence has an intrinsic effect on how a woman sees and carries herself. We wanted to uncover what external trends have influenced women’s bodies and styles across time and, in particular, how modern women have been looking to boost their confidence in recent years, as reflected in their internet searches for evolving body trends. However, the most important thing remains that all women should be confident in their appearance, whatever method they harness to get there.”

You can find MYA’s full timeline here. As well as a look-back at our favourite decades, there’s also an even deeper dive into the top trends of the last decade, the Google searches they generated, and the celebs that inspired them.

Charlotte Giver

Charlotte is the founder and editor-in-chief at Your Coffee Break magazine. With a background in PR working in Los Angeles and Barcelona, Charlotte has been running Your Coffee Break from the YCB HQ in London’s Covent Garden for the past 6 years.

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