This Is What the Ideal Woman Looked Like in the 1930s

1930s’ ideal woman.

TIME

The “ideal” body type has long been a topic of fascination. Whether we’re focusing on how those standards of beauty have changed over time, how clothing sizes have evolved or what dress size Marilyn Monroe really wore, it’s clear that the subject is less superficial than it may seem. Conversations about beauty are often conversations about the impacts these changing ideals have on the body images of women and girls.

Twenty years before Monroe stood over a subway grate in a billowing white halter dress, LIFE Magazine described the ideal figure American women hoped to attain. The year was 1938, and the model, 20-year-old June Cox, stood 5 ft. 6 3/4 in. and weighed 124 lbs., though life insurance statistics, the magazine said, suggested she should weigh 135 lbs.

The magazine explained that American women’s increasing involvement in sports in recent years had made them taller and flatter…

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