Ideal Female Bodies (iv)


Swinging Sixties (c. 1960s)

Women in the 1960s benefited from a liberation movement that saw more women in the workplace, gave them access to birth control pills, and gave rise to feminism. “Swinging London” had a profound influence throughout the western world during the 1960s, and it helped usher miniskirts and A-line shapes into fashion.

Supermodel Era (c. 1980s)

Jane Fonda created an aerobics fad in the 1980s, which made women want to be fit. Supermodels like Cindy Crawford typified the ideal body of the era: tall, slim, athletic, but still buxom. This era also saw an uptick in anorexia, which some experts thought might have been tied to the sudden emphasis on exercise.

“I’m no model lady. A model’s just an imitation of the real thing.” ― Mae West

Heroin Chic (c. 1990s)

After the materialism and overexertion of the 1980s, fashion swung the other way. Thin, withdrawn, and pale, Kate Moss typified the heroin chic look in the 1990s. Heroin use actually rose during this time, causing President Clinton to comment on the trend in 1997.

Postmodern Beauty (c. 2000s – Today)

Women in the 2000s have been bombarded with so many different requirements of attractiveness. Women should be skinny, but healthy; they should have large breasts and a large butt, but a flat stomach.

To achieve all this, women have increasingly been turning to plastic surgery. Studies have shown that butt augmentation procedures, patients under the age of 30, and patients citing selfies as a reason for plastic surgery have all increased in recent years.

See other: Ideal Female Body Types Throughout History

Psychology and Materialism


We know from research that materialism tends to be associated with treating others in more competitive, manipulative and selfish ways, as well as with being less empathetic […].

[M]aterialism is associated with lower levels of well-being, less pro-social interpersonal behaviour, more ecologically destructive behaviour, and worse academic outcomes. It also is associated with more spending problems and debt […].

We found that the more highly people endorsed materialistic values, the more they experienced unpleasant emotions, depression and anxiety, the more they reported physical health problems, such as stomachaches and headaches, and the less they experienced pleasant emotions and felt satisfied with their lives.


This article is based on excerpts from an interview with Tim Kasser, published December 16, 2014 on apa.org. Tim Kasser, PhD, is a professor of psychology at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, specializing in materialism and well-being. Special thanks to vox.com.