Vintage/ Victorian: Beauty and Size

Laurie says:

I saw these improve-your-body ads on Feministing from Retronaut and got thinking about the many, many historical nudes I looked at when I was making Women En Large. The reality is that post-millennial thinness, except for the Victorian dying women paintings (which were very popular), is historically rare.


Miriam, posting on Feministing: It’s a good reminder that our current beauty standards, which promote weight loss and thinness, are actually pretty recent. It wasn’t so long ago that skinny was a considered a bad thing, and gaining weight to be curvier was what was being marketed to women.



Thought I’d add these 19th century paintings by Frederick Leighton to the mix. They were among the more famous fine art “pin-ups” of their time.


Flaming June


Summer Moon


On the other hand, the mid-20th-Century women look like they have enough energy to get out of bed.

One thought on “Vintage/ Victorian: Beauty and Size

  1. At last year’s Ashland Shakespeare Festival I saw a play version of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. For the most part it was delightful, but one of the few jarring notes was the way Miss de Bourgh was portrayed.

    Jane Austen:

    “The other is Miss De Bourgh. Only look at her. She is quite a little creature. Who would have thought she could be so thin and small!” …

    “I like her appearance,” said Elizabeth, struck with other ideas. “She looks sickly and cross. — Yes, she will do for him very well. She will make him a very proper wife.”

    In the Ashland production, Miss de Bourgh was short, yes, but fat. This is the era of never too rich or too thin.

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