I just love a good flashback montage*, don’t you?

(*Due to the fact I majored in french and creative writing in college, and not filmography, by “montage” I mean “collection of photographs with snarky captions attached” rather than “collection of film clips set to kicky music”.)

For a person who dedicates all her free time to reading and writing about fitness and healthy body image, I find it really interesting to look back at the transformation of body image standards over the last century.

When it comes to beauty pageants, everyone has their own opinion. To slightly misquote Mitch Hedberg and take his joke completely out of context, “you either love them or you hate them. Or you think they’re okay”. But they’ve been a big part of American mainstream culture for the last 100 years and they do a great job of documenting the basic beauty trends and standards of each time period.

So let’s take a look shall we? Beauty and body image throughout the years flashback montage (with commentary made up by me):

To the confusion of her friends, Gladys always swore by her jet black nylons and sweater dress on beach days. Her flair for dressing for winter in 90 degree heat without breaking a noticeable sweat ended up winning her the title.

To the confusion of her friends, Gladys always swore by her jet black nylons and sweater dress on beach days. Her flair for dressing for winter in 90 degree heat without breaking a noticeable sweat ended up winning her the title.

 

Frances wondered if she should have rescheduled her photo shoot for a less humid day. In the end, her confidence in the face of fly-aways won her the hearts of the judges.

Frances wondered if she should have rescheduled her photo shoot for a less humid day. In the end, her confidence in the face of fly-aways won her the hearts of the judges.

 

While Dolores was a natural at lining up, her lack of direction was always most apparent when the photographer would say, "now everyone turn to the right"

While Dolores was a natural at lining up, her lack of direction was always most apparent when the photographer said, “now everyone turn to the right”

 

"See that, Miss Maryland?" Asked Miss Iowa "No," said Miss Maryland without breaking her smile. "I'm blind as a bat, but boys don't make passes at girls who wear glasses"

“See that, Miss Maryland?” Asked Miss Iowa
“No,” said Miss Maryland without breaking her smile. “I’m blind as a bat, but boys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses”

 

Susan and Tammy just smelled it. Donna just dealt it.

Susan and Tammy just smelled it. Donna just dealt it.

 

The group on left were all terribly embarrassed when they all showed up in the same bikini, hair style, facial expression, shade of tan, and body type.

The group on the left were all terribly embarrassed when they all showed up in the same outfit.

 

Ashleighee Neveah Miley Cyrus Heaven Eden Smith was horrified when, at the age of 3 and a half, the judges asked her if she was 27.

Ashleighee Nevaeh Miley Cyrus Heaven Eden Smith was horrified when, at the age of 3 and a half, the judges asked her if she was actually 27.

 

Personally, I would like to see a pageant that doesn’t allow any beauty helpers. I think contestants should be asked to roll out of bed at 6am and march straight down that stage donning both their PJs and a whopping dose of confidence before quickly running home to shower, change and get to work by 8. Now that woman deserves a crown.

Pageants: love ’em? hate ’em? think they’re ok?

Body image: Overall, our definition of beauty has evolved from a softer frame to a more muscular, leaner figure- is this a good, positive change or are we losing sight of the natural roundness of the female form?

Should makeup and spray tans and hair styling be allowed?