Female Nudity Throughout History; The Ideal Naked Body
“Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.”
- Dorothy Parker
Her name is Venus of Willendorf, this masterpiece of the Paleolithic era is considered as the most accurate representation of idealized female nudity at the time. The saggy breast and big belly showed she had multiple pregnancies and her wide hips signified childbirth on her body was easy and fast.
She is Venus de Milo, a 2-meter-tall marble sculpture portraying Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of sexuallity, love and beauty. Her figure was androgynous, the breast were round, small and perky while the hips and belly corpulent.
In this era, the smaller the breast and the nipples, the more beautiful the lady was; she was expected to maintain a heavy yet healthy weight, along with a fleshy waist for childbearing (a moderate protruding belly was considered as a very attractive feature… Also, an interesting fact: the ankles and wrists were seen as the most beautiful parts of a woman’s body.)
The Three Graces is an oil painting by artist Peter Paul Rubens which exposes the archetype of the perfect female body; curvy, portly arms, full-figured and pale.
The Victorian Era brought with a more contemporary beauty standard. Statues and photographs depict women with bare or, mostly, carefully trimmed nether regions. The desired silhouette of the time was, above all, a rigidly narrow waist, medium sized breast with flat yet large and voluminous nipples, and as few defined muscles as possible.
The full-length photograph above depicts a fashionable 1920’s slender body. In an attempt to leave the mildly voluptuous woman ideal of the Gibson Girl, girls and women aspired for the boy-girl look that was in vogue (bust flatteners - some kind of breast corset - were a best-seller intimate garment).
This era was all about surreal curves and exceedingly pointy nipples. The waist cinchers which were abandoned in the 1920’s came back to fashion and women such as Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren were held by the masses as the quintessence of allure.
Audrey Hepburn and Twiggy quickly popularized the female physical archetype in fashion and nudity of the time which, very much like in the 1920’s, portrayed a slender androgynous figure.
The 1970’s were perhaps the loosest of times for female beauty. The bodies represented in erotic films and art were natural, hairy and - in many cases - tenuously flaccid.
This decade was divided by two bodies: the muscular and defined one of Naomi Campbell, and the remarkably busty one of Pamela Anderson. It was all about embracing their sexuality and sculpting their bodies in the gym. Women began to undergo breast surgeries at an unprecedented rate, asking for massive implants which doctors, in many cases, struggled to provide.
Like in the 1970’s, a dark and very furry genitalia was in fashion.
In the early 90’s Kate Moss brought back the 1920’s and 1960’s waif-like body type, which stayed a trend for nearly two decades.
In the year 2017 under 23 million women submitted to plastic surgery to achieve the curvaceous ideal in growing trend. Breast, buttocks, hips and lip silicone and saline implants are on the top of the inventory of procedures requested to doctors. The general standard is hour-glass and fit.