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Different Body Types

By: Julie Burns - Updated: 13 May 2012 | comments*Discuss
Figure; Fashion; Social; Body; Diet;

Where our figures are concerned, it's often a case of 'the grass is greener on the other side.' The majority of us feel that we're too short/fat/not bosomy or pert bottomed enough. That everything from our careers to love lives would be better if only we looked more 'perfect'. But figure 'perfection' is subject to the vagaries of fashion. From social to cultural change, from cinema to celebrities, many factors have influenced opinions on what makes the best female form. Like the pendulum of fashion itself, the ideal figure type has swung madly back and forth between slim and curvaceous over the past century…

Body Type Taste Through the Ages

The '20s: In the wake of emancipation, the rather androgynous and newly assertive, flapper girl was born. Along with shockingly short bobbed hair, in came the flat-chested, shapeless waif wannabe, first time round. Female ideal: 'It' girl Clara Bow.

The '40s/50s: Hollywood glamour reigned supreme - and proved a glorious technicolour escape to World War II's gloom and deprivation. Fabulous film-star fashion and Dior's 1947 New Look instigated a change in taste to the womanly, hour-glass curves displayed by screen sirens such as Lana Turner, Betty Grable, Sophia Loren, Jayne Mansfield, Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe. The popular exception to the new figure rule was naturally gazelle-like Audrey Hepburn.

The '60s: Like the Roaring '20s, the Swinging '60s signalled major social change for women and an adolescent appearance as initiated by Mary Quant with her girlish mini-skirt designs. To a Beatles and Biba boutique backdrop, models Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton defined the straight look of the era.

The '80s/90s: A health-conscious physique and the cult of the body beautiful developed over these decades, kick-started by Jane Fonda's infamous workout. Street sportswear to Dynasty type dressing meant a new focus on body honing and toning as epitomised by shapely supermodel Cindy Crawford. Global icon throughout, however, was shy Lady Di - later turned a very gym slimmed, Princess of Wales.

The Noughties: A time of extremes. Anorexia's an established illness, yet according to the World Health Organisation, Britain as a nation is fast becoming obese. In fashion magazines Kate Moss and thin chic's still 'in', but then skinny as sexy continues to be contended in the Latin quarter - in the voluptuous shape of stars like Jennifer Lopez.

With ideas on figure ideals so yo-yo in effect, what's the healthy conclusion? Perhaps not a fixation with kilo control but how to safely make the best of what you've got. Whether pear or apple-shaped, short or statuesque, post-childbirth sloppy or plain fed up of feeling everything's heading south, what counts more than how you're built is how you present yourself.

How To Have a Better Body

  • Learn the clever art of 'illusion' dressing - project the positive and your negative bits will look less in comparison. Good bust? Emphasise it. Elegantly. Great legs? The same applies for every key body zone. For more objective help, consult a professional 'makeover' stylist.
  • Good Foundations - Ditch those skimpy g-strings and limp bras - they make wobbly bits worse. Corsetiers to the Queen, Rigby and Peller, say at least 50% of us wear the wrong bra size. In contrast, well-fitting undies give any woman va-voom, controlled curves.
  • Not sure you're the right size for your height? Your doctor can advise you on correct height-weight ratio and some health centres can assess your Body Mass Index (fat ratio). Defining your particular body type such as Ectomorph (tall and lean) to Mesomorph (more rounded) can help you match your diet to your natural build.
  • If you do want to drop a dress size, remember diet alone is not enough. Three times a week exercise on top of a well balanced diet raises the metabolic rate and helps maintain weight loss. In addition, a regular regime gives muscle tone and improves posture and poise - an instant hit slimming trick.
  • On the food front, try starting the day with a bowl of porridge. Made up of complex carbohydrates, it provides a slow energy release, making hunger pangs between meals less likely. Biscuit-bingeing? Swap this instant bad sugar lift for a piece of fruit and get a wholesome fructose lift, instead. Constant cravings? Chromium as a supplement is an effective craving suppressant. Check with your doctor first, if on any other medication.
  • Value who you are as well as what you look like physically. Be happy in your skin and enjoy being a woman whatever shape you're in. Chances are if you give the impression your figure's fabulous, others will think so, too!

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