I’m quite sure that there’s always been pressure of some sort on women to fit the idealised shape of their time. Whether that was skinnier, plumper, curvier, taller, flatter chested, more petite, or any other combination of qualities, the desire to have the look that is “in” is not new.
Perhaps it was a little easier, though, in times when many women sewed or at least altered their own clothes? When you can make your clothes fit your own shape perfectly, you may feel less keenly the disappointment of not being the shape or size you want.
I’ve been thinking about size lately because I’ve just entered another pinup competition. This particular competition has the theme “pink” for breast cancer awareness, and I myself have been very aware that the only pink dress I own is a half size too small. So with a deadline of just over three weeks, I set out to lose some of the excess abdominal fat that I’ve gained in recent times (I can’t really afford to buy a new dress, so there is no back up plan if I don’t manage to squeeze into this dress).
For myself, I want to lose weight (and in particular, abdominal fat) because I’ve felt frumpy and overly stout lately, and the deadline of fitting into a dress helps by giving me a measurable goal. But I’m aware that my understanding of what shape and weight I’d like to be is at least in part influenced by what I see and read around me.
The pinup/retro world is funny, in a way: it is both wonderfully inclusive of a wide range of sizes and shapes (see the vast array of models working for PUG, for example) and yet at the same time promotes an obviously small-waisted hourglass as a shape to aspire to.
And to tell the truth, that’s exactly the shape I am hoping to achieve – a small waisted hourglass, with my hips and bust about 8 or 9 inches larger than my waist, which requires the whittling down of my bottom, thighs and waist.
Am I somehow shallow for wanting to achieve a particular shape that I find attractive and that I believe will suit my body? Perhaps. But in the end, don’t most of us have a mental image of how we look and feel at our best? At different times, I’ve been both 10kgs heavier and 30kgs lighter, and how I felt about my body didn’t always improve as my weight went down.
What do you think? Do you find yourself influenced by the models and icons of the pinup and rockabilly scenes?