Should we stop blaming the media, Part II: A historical confrontation of modern body image issues
By Allison Bolt.
Part two of a three-part series. Read part one here.
Florence Lawrence was the first person to be considered a movie star in the early 1900s. As a silent film star, she was in 250 films. Suddenly, there was a larger-than-life “perfect woman” on the screen. Everyone wanted to look like her, be like her or marry her. Thus, Hollywood began having an impact on everyday society.
This impact continued as Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe made their appearances on the big screen. The main difference between these women? Their measurements. The main similarity between these women? Their impact as the ideal female image of their time. These three women are just a few of the countless recognizable names in a list of famous female movie stars. Yet these three stand out because they are still widely idealized today.
Let’s begin by taking a look at Elizabeth Taylor. Taylor was well known for her performances in countless movies, but was most famous for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.” So, what made Elizabeth Taylor the woman everyone wanted to look like? The answer: her dark hair, sun-kissed skin, violet eyes, pretty figure and her love for fine jewelry. Ask anyone, even in present day, about Elizabeth Taylor and they will associate her with beauty and diamonds.
In contrast, Audrey Hepburn is considered the epitome of the classy woman. Her roles in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “Funny Face” are just two examples of the countless classic movies she appeared in. Hepburn was known for her petite frame, dark hair, high cheekbones and her signature winged eyeliner.
Finally, Marilyn Monroe may be the most iconic woman from the big screen, starring in movies such as “Niagara” and “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” A small town girl named Norma Jeane Mortenson moved to Hollywood and transformed into Marilyn Monroe, whose films would earn over two hundred million dollars. She was, and still is, considered America’s ideal woman and sex symbol.
How do these women compare? They were all considered to be the ideal female body of their time, despite the vast differences in measurements. An alarming fact about our society is the ability to easily access the body measurements of celebrities on the internet. According to Glamamor, Elizabeth Taylor weighed 120 pounds with a 22-inch waist and a 32-inch bust. Audrey Hepburn weighed 103 pounds with a 20-inch waist and a 34-inch bust. Marilyn Monroe weighed 150 pounds with a 23-inch waist and a 37-inch bust. Why can I look up these celebrity’s measurements in a matter of seconds? Because this is an age of instant access to knowledge in a world of internet and iPhones. Women can easily research the measurements of the latest ideal woman while standing in the mirror with a measuring tape to compare themselves. This cannot be healthy for our society.
As you can see from these far too easily accessible measurements. These women had vastly differing body types. In the final installment, we will compare them to the ideal body type in 2017.