Yesterday, Jezebel linked to an article about a really interesting study: apparently, women today aspire to have a "tubular" silhouette, rather than the hourglass silhouette of the 50s. Here's a choice quote: “The increase in ideal waist size and decrease in ideal hip size reflects a change in the ideal female figure from the hourglass figure coveted in the 1950s to today’s tubular, more androgynous ideal, with little differentiation between the waist and hips.” Isn't that fascinating? (I must say, I can't imagine wanting to have my figure described as "tubular.")
It seems very possible that this shift in desired silhouette is simply a natural cycle in fashion's fickle concept of the ideal body type. The above image shows the difference in silhouette between the first decade of the 1910s and the 1920s. As you can see, the desired shape changes radically from the "S-curve" of the 1910s: the bust is flattened and the waist is wider, creating what is essentially a "tubular" effect.
Which all begs the question: are we currently in a twenties renaissance? I'm not sure. Personally, I would describe the current fashion silhouette as an inverted cone. Mad Men may be all the rage on tv, but the Lohan look still rules on the street. Flowing, billowy tunics on top, skinny jeans or leggings on the bottom, all culminating in diminutive flats on the feet (demonstrated below by two celebrities with very different figures). While this silhouette may not be exactly tubular, it's certainly more androgynous and a definite foil to the hourglass.
While it's easy to brush all this off as a harmless whim of fashion, it seems that the preferred silhouette of an era and body image are intertwined. According to the study, "In 1954, the women on average aspired to lose just under 3lbs, while today’s woman wanted to shed more than 10lbs. 1950s women aspired to ideal hips measuring just over 35 inches, while modern women wanted hips of less than 31 inches but larger waists than the 1950s women."
Do tubular silhouettes inspire poor body image? Like so many things, I'm sure this is specific to the woman. I've tried on exactly one pair of skinny jeans in my life, and it was traumatic. I can't say that I've ever felt worse about my body. On the other end of the spectrum, I feel at my most confident in hourglass silhouettes. So, I personally opt to eschew the current "inverted cone" trend. I think this is easy to do when you're 30 years old, comfortable in your style, and not as swayed by trends. But if I were in high school and everyone around me were sporting skinny jeans, I think I would have a harder time treading my own path. And lord knows, high school is hard enough as it is.
What do you think? Do you agree that women today aspire to a more androgynous silhouette? And how do you think that relates to body image?