Ideal Body by Time Period

Ideal Men

Political, Economic, & Social Trends

1666-1800’s

Three-piece suit

Inconspicuous consumption: modesty and plainness of dress

Beau Brummel

Great Masculine Renunciation

1600’s: Threat to aristocratic control: criticism of monarchy as decadent and tyrannous

Middle class rejection of aristocratic values and style and embrace of democratic values and style

1890’s

More youthful, athletic and broad-shouldered ideal  

John L. Sullivan


Paul Robeson


First wave of feminism continues

Crisis of masculinity

Closing of the Western frontier

Move from entrepreneurial to corporate capitalism

Popularity of men’s athletics

1907-1950’s

Continuation of the broad-shouldered ideal

Latin lover craze of the early 1900’s

Arrow collar man


Antonio Moreno


Cary Grant


Sidney Poitier


Great depression of 1930’s

Red scare and cold war of 1950’s

1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education marks federal judicial support of integration

1960’s – 1970’s

Peacock Revolution

Rugged masculinity

Afro hairstyles

Marlboro man


Bruce Lee

Second Wave of Feminism

Vietnam War and anti-war protests

Black civil rights movement

1980’s

Return of broad shouldered men and suits

Sylvester Stallone


Tom Hintnaus


Conservative period

Backlash period against women’s rights

Crisis of masculinity

1990’s

Two Ideals:

1.       Large muscular men

2.       Metrosexual ideal

Mark Wahlberg


Tyson Beckford


Increasing gay visibility

Economic prosperity

2000’s - 2010’s

Slim Ideal prevails

Broad shouldered ideal still holds some appeal

Johnny Depp


James Rodriguez


David Agbodji


George Clooney

Increasing legal recognition of gay rights

Increasing transgender visibility

Politically polarized period