Ideal Body by Time Period

Ideal Men

Political, Economic, & Social Trends


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


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


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


Return of broad shouldered men and suits

Sylvester Stallone

Tom Hintnaus

Conservative period

Backlash period against women’s rights

Crisis of masculinity


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