Hollywood can't decide what the ideal body looks like

Hollywood Can't Decide What the Ideal Bod Looks Like

Ahead of the Miss Teen USA Pageant, AOL.com is looking at contemporary views of beauty and how they are shaping the next generation of Americans.

Tall and skinny. Or curvy with a big bum. If you take a look at celebrities, those seem to be the ideal body types right now.

After all, these are the Hollywood and beauty icons who star in the movies and television shows we watch, sing our favorite songs and grace the covers of magazines.

SEE MORE: Helping or hurting: How beauty pageants in America affect women's body positivity

But these standards of beauty weren't always the norm. In fact, Hollywood's perception of beauty has been in constant flux over the past century.

See how female beauty icons have changed through the years:

Beauty icons through the years
See Gallery
Hollywood can't decide what the ideal body looks like
Actress Marilyn Monroe poses for a portrait in circa 1952. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
1925: Louise Brooks ( 1906-1987 ), American actress of cinema. (Photo by Gaston Paris/Roger Viollet/Getty Images)
American film actress and original 'It Girl', Clara Bow (1905 - 1965), 1926. (Photo by Eugene Robert Richee/John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images)
American actress Jean Harlow (1911 - 1937) wearing a diaphanous evening gown. (Photo by W. A. Fraker/John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images)
Actress Ginger Rogers (Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank)
Actress Lauren Bacall, in a promotional headshot for Warner Bros. Studios, 1944. (Photo via John Engstead/John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images)
Rita Hayworth posing in publicity portrait for the film 'Gilda', 1946. (Photo by Columbia Pictures/Getty Images)
Katharine Hepburn in a publicity portrait, circa 1944. (Photo by Getty Images)
American film actress Marilyn Monroe (1926 - 1962). (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Actress Brigitte Bardot(Photo by Reinhard-Archiv/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
Actress and model Twiggy in a scene from the movie 'The Boyfriend', 1971. (Photo by Stanley Bielecki Movie Collection/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Eartha Kitt Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Actress Jane Fonda promotes her new exercise video 'Jane Fonda's Lean Routine' on October 2, 1990 at Jane Fonda's Workout Gym in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Cindy Crawford (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
Tyra Banks (Photo by Jim Smeal/WireImage)
Jennifer Lopez during The 75th Annual Academy Awards - Deadline Room at The Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by J. Vespa/WireImage)
Model Kate Upton on September 20, 2013 (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Singer Beyonce performs on stage during a concert in the Rock in Rio Festival on September 13, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

A "boyish figure" was favored in the 1920s. Women at the time wore undergarments that helped achieve this androgynous look by flattening the butt, chest and hips — think Hollywood "It Girls" at the time, Clara Bow and Louise Brooks.

That enviable boxy look was shunned for a slightly more fitted one and a return to the natural waistline in the 1930s. Standard bra cup sizes were created during this time, allowing stars like Jean Harlow and Ginger Rogers to show off their curvier figures.

Actresses like Lauren Bacall, Rita Hayworth and Katharine Hepburn were idolized for their statuesque, long-legged looks throughout the '40s.

The 1950s were all about that coveted sex-symbol vibe, known mostly for a busty hourglass figure, like those of Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot.

Throughout the 1960s and '70s, thin was in. Probably the most recognizable face for this body image ideal was Twiggy, a British supermodel and singer.

But trying to emulate these body ideals has become harder and harder. Even as the average woman's body mass index has gotten larger, the "ideal" body has gotten smaller.

During the 1970s, the eating disorder anorexia nervosa began to get widespread attention, especially after singer Karen Carpenter died from it in 1983.

Jane Fonda and her famous aerobics workouts can be partially credited for the more athletic, skinny build that was popular in the '80s. This new look made the quest for the perfect figure even harder.

It was during this decade and into the '90s, the coveted body mass index of celebs really dropped. An article on Rehabs.com, a website about behavioral addictions, says at the time, "Cindy Crawford had a BMI of 19, while Kate Moss' BMI was only 16."

Comparing that to the women of today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the average adult woman has a BMI of 26.5. But we're not necessarily seeing this average size reflected in Hollywood or in the media.

Plus Model Magazine reports 20 years ago, the average American fashion model "weighed 8 percent less than the average woman." Today, models weigh 23 percent less than the norm.

Even the size guidelines to be a plus-size model have gotten smaller. If a model wears a size 6, she can now be considered plus-size in the industry.

A change that caused outrage when a so-called plus-size model, who's a size 10, was hired by Calvin Klein for an underwear campaign.

Just taking a look back through history shows that what's popular when it comes to body image is always evolving. And it's only a matter of time before what's enviable now changes.

WATCH: See how the 'ideal' woman's body type has changed throughout history:
Women's Ideal Body Types Throughout History

Read Full Story

Sign up for Entertainment Insider by AOL to get the hottest pop culture news delivered straight to your inbox!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.