The Man Who Started The Hourglass Body Shape Ideal

From ubiquitous sketches with fruits to reality shows focused on body measurements, we live in a society obsessed with body shapes. Although the majority of women have apple or pear-shaped bodies, every one of them dreams about the hourglass figure. Beyonce, Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez are praised for their tiny waist, prominent bust and plump derriere.
Have you ever asked yourself how did this frenzy begin in the first place? Who started the then-trend, now beauty standard?


It was actually a man! Charles Dana Gibson was an American illustrator who just… loved his wife. Inspired by her body, Gibson began sketching her in pen and ink horse-riding, reading and exercising her new-found independence in 1900s America. She became the Gibson Girl, an archetype of American style, a standard of beauty later to be recognized globally.
When he imagined her tiny waist, captive in a straight-fronted corset, there was no allusion to sexuality like it is nowadays. Her “perfect” body was depicted as a consequence of athletics and manly pursuits, such as real, paid work.


Camille Clifford, a Belgian stage actress, became the image of the Gibson Girl later. The ideal woman wore often a bodice/blouse and matching skirt. The blouse was decorated with ruffles and bows that accentuated her bosom while the corset pushed her hips backwards, creating an S shape.
While you might recall full forms in Ancient Greece too, this moment in American history that marked the crossing from restrictive clothes, typical to the previous century, to active outerwear, was the trigger for our current perception.
We didn’t have a revelation overnight. Someone told us that an hourglass shape is the ultimate #bodygoal.
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