When it comes to the hourglass figure – many women pursue it, and it seems that men pursue women with it.
Psychologists at the University of Texas (obviously with way too much time on their hands) have reviewed hundreds of years worth of literature and concluded: Men lust after slender-waisted women.
Apparently it all comes down to Waist-to-Hip ratio. A slender waist is seen as “a core feature of feminine beauty that transcends ethnic-morphological differences”.
…waist size was always described as narrow or small; there were 66 romantic descriptions of waist in these three centuries, and every one of them referred to a narrow waist. “They all seemed to like women with a low waist-to-hip ratio.”
Here’s the reality check on the hourglass phenomenon. Only 8.4% of women actually have an hourglass figure (source).
Media’s Love-Hate Relationship with the Hourglass
There is a strange dichotomy in the fashion world. Very lean high-fashion models regularly get called ‘fat’, yet we also laud hourglass figures on the cover of magazines.
Actress Christina Hendricks talks about body shape in New York magazine – in particular how her figure has been discussed more than her acting ability.
Anytime someone talks about your figure constantly, you get nervous, you get really self-conscious. I was working my butt off on the show, and then all anyone was talking about was my body!”
Hendricks was criticized in the NY Times recently for appearing at the Gloden Globes in a “big” dress:
Not pretty Christina Hendricks in Christian Siriano’s exploding ruffle dress. (As one stylist said, “You don’t put a big girl in a big dress. That’s rule number one.”)
Body shapes go in and out of fashion, and they also change – (see a gallery of changing body shape over the 20th Century). A few years ago a survey of body size undertaken in the UK showed that only 8.4% actually have an hourglass figure. Most women are generally a rectangle or spoon shape.
The hourglass figure is indicated where the waist circumference is 9 inches smaller than the bust. Hips and bust are of a similar size (but bust can be up to 1 inch larger than hips). If the bust is larger than this, then you have a triangle figure.
The hourglass figure was more common in earlier times (think Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, Jayne Mansfield).
High fashion will always be about thin women modeling clothes. However actresses are a different story – they tend to reflect the fickle body shape trends of the day.