How has the average woman changed since the 60’s?
If we consider what beauty ideals and standards were back in the 1950s, the blonde bombshell that was Marilyn Monroe takes centre stage. During the height of cinema in the decade, she was widely regarded the most famous movie star in the world, and her penchant for fashion, lingerie, and Chanel no 5 made her figure one of the most covetable. Yet, apart from her incredibly tiny 22-inch waist, her body type and measurements were much more similar to the average size of women today. Standing at 5'5 with a 36D bust, she was widely different to the average woman of 1957, as discovered in a report by Bluebella.
In the last 60 years, the quintessential British woman has grown 3 inches, gained a stone and has increased her bra size from a 34B to a 36DD. Although many runway models and advertisements might suggest that the average woman is a small size 8, in reality, the report found that Ms. Average in the UK is actually a size 16. She also lives a much healthier lifestyle; she is likely to exercise at least twice a week and will consume 2,300 calories a day compared to the 1,800 calories consumed on average 60 years ago. Modern culture's emphasis on health and fitness, as well as women having the freedom to live their lives however they please, means we're looking much more like Kim Kardashian in 2017, arguably the Marilyn of our time.
Speaking to Emily Bendell, Bluebella's chief executive, it seems the dramatic shift in size, shape, and lifestyle of the average woman has had an effect on the fashion industry, "she has changed from being quite petite to [having] a much more fuller figured silhouette which has presented real challenges for designers and lingerie brands."
But our bodies are not the only things that have caused the fashion industry to grow; the invention of the washing machine as well as women entering the workforce and having their own disposable income has altered spending habits on clothes and fashion. Compared to an average £10 weekly wage in 1957, an average wage nowadays would be placed at around £530, and she will devote 30% more of her income to her wardrobe as a result. "This is reflected in the size of her lingerie collection, which is twice the size of a 1950s woman,” Emily says, “she now has an average of 12 bras compared to just six in the 1950s.”
“Today's women see lingerie and nightwear as fashion crossover pieces, a trend not seen back in the 1950s,” continues Emily. “At Bluebella we are creating lingerie and nightwear collections to reflect this changing body shape from stylishly chic everyday pieces to show-stopping provocative items designed to inspire and empower.”
So we're taller, healthier and apparently much bustier, but how else have our bodies changed? According to the report, whilst Marilyn Monroe was the biggest movie star of her time, and Jennifer Lawrence is notably ours, brunette beauty Natalie Wood was a lot closer to the national average. In 1957, the average-sized British woman was 5ft 2ins tall, weighed 9stone 10lbs, had size 3 feet and wore a dress size 12, with a slim waist of 28 inches. Her life expectancy was also capped at 68, while luckily women these days now grace 83 on average. We're also sporting much larger feet at size 6 (to balance out our new found height) and our waist is at a 34 to match a size 16 average.
Natalie Wood in 1957 Kim Kardashian
So from Marilyn Monroe to Jennifer Lawrence and Kim Kardashian, the extraordinary ways our bodies have changed encompass a wide range of sizes and shapes that are all undeniably sexy. Bluebella has adapted to the changing shape of modern women by creating MORE by Bluebella for the fuller busted woman, bringing its design ethos to the DD-G cup market.
How we lived in 19571 Just 33% of households had a washing machine
2 Only 10% of homes had a telephone
3 Average wage was £10 a week
4 Life expectancy was just 68 years for men and 71 for women
5 Biggest female movie star in the world was Marilyn Monroe
How we live in 20171 78% of us have smartphones
2 Average wage is £530
3 Life expectancy for men is 79 years and 83 years for women
4 Biggest movie star in the world is Jennifer Lawrence
5 98% of homes have a washing machine