Friday, March 18, 2011

Which figure? Betty Grable or Kate Moss?

After Evangeline's  comments  yesterday, I started looking at other Hollywood starlets vitals from the Golden Age of Hollywood, and came across a very interesting article in the Daily Mail from 2009. Basically it was comparing the average women's physique in 1949 when the pin up was Betty Grable (5' 4" 36-24-35), Diana Dors ( 38DD-26-36) to the 2009 woman when the model of the day was Kate Moss (5' 7" 32-21-32) or perhaps Victoria Beckham (5' 34-23-33). The 1949 woman was on average 5' 2" and  37B-27-37. The 2009 average woman (5' 4" 38C-34-40). Shoe size has also increased  from a 3 to a 6. 
On the face of it seems obvious. The silhouette in 1949 must have been easier for the average 1949 woman  (or indeed today's woman) to obtain, particularly in regards to bust size.I can understand that for designers, it is easier to design pencil shapes, sacks and clothes that good on hangers -- particularly for the mass market. When you start putting in tucks, stays and pleats, fitting becomes difficult. Busts and their different shapes make life difficult.
But is it really?
The size of the waist has increased dramatically for the average woman but not for the unattainables. Victoria Beckham's waist is not as small as Marilyn Monroe's for example. But given the difference in heights etc, are we comparing apples to oranges?

First  look at the difference in bust to waist ratio (ie waist divided by bust -- and here I am using the straight bust measurement, not adding the cup size). For example Betty Grable had a 0.66 ratio while Kate Moss has 0.71. Marilyn Monroe had a 0.62. Victoria Beckham has a 0.68. The average 1949 woman had 0.73, and 2009 had 0.89. So the difference in bust to waist ratio was 0.07 for the 1949 woman using Betty Grable as an unattainable. And the 2009 version comparing the average 2009 woman to Kate Moss shows a difference of 0.18. So yes, there is a disconnect but more because the average woman's bust to waist ratio has increased, rather than the unattainable changing significantly.  Because bust to waist proportions have increased for the unattainables, it should in theory be easier to get that 2009 figure.
And the hip to waist ratio has increased for average woman. The average woman 2009 was 0.95 and 1949 was 0.73
For the unattainables, if you will, it has remained at about a constant 0.7, although Marilyn Monroe was an amazing 0.63. She had a tiny waist -- rather than large hips to her bust. In fact her hip to bust is about the same, as is Kate Moss's. As indeed was Miss Average 1949. Those stacked starlets such as Diana Dors (38 DD to 36) Jane Russell (38 D to 36) tended to be around the 1.05 range. Victoria Beckham is in the 1.03 range. Whereas Miss Average 2009 was 0.95 -- becoming more pear shaped.
So what I have learnt (other than it is fun to procrastinate as I have to put loads of emotion in my current scene?) -- basically if you want to look like you have a good figure, make sure your waist is about 0.7 of your hips and bust measurement. If your hips are slightly smaller than your bust, you looked stacked.
Also it is not your clothing size that matters, it is the ratio of your bust to your waist and waist to hips plus bust to hips. Start with your bust size and work to that.
A  waist larger than 32" means you are more likely to have undiagonosed diabetes type II. There are reasons why focusing on your waist size makes sense.
Doing ab firming exercises does help to reduce your waist size. It is not easy though.
Obtaining a perfect figure is always harder than it look.
And I should have been a lot more appreciative of my figure in my early twenties, rather thar than focusing on losing that extra ten pounds or trying to fit into a smaller size.


Carol said...

Really interesting post Michelle. I think the 1950s shape is the most attractive. We are in danger of losing waists altogether either through being too thin or the other.

Deb said...

Let's face it, what our culture considers "beautiful" wouldn't be that way if everyone could achieve it; the unattainable is the unattainable, depending on the culture and social forces in play. So, today, with plenty of food and lots of sedentary work, to be ultra-thin is the goal. But going back to a time when food was always difficult to come by and periodic famines wiped out everything, having ample proportions was the goal. (I read somewhere that Rubens married his second wife because of her rose-pink skin and 62-inch hips. Wow, I was born too late!)

Anyway, to chase that always-changing goal is exhausting and detracts our focus (not to mention our money) from other things. I say, stay in shape to be healthy and live longer, but give up pursuing the Kate Moss/Posh Spice look. It's simply unachievable for most of us--and that's the point.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, as a fan, I would like to point out that Kate Moss is more like 5' 6" and 34-26-35. AND Kate is beautiful; wrinkles, cellulite and all!