"Ideal" Figure in 1931 Hollywood Revealed by Recovered Article

Photos Courtesy of the Media History Digital Library
While certain movements have committed to promoting healthier body types for women in the media, most of what we still see on the silver screen, the red carpet, and the runways suggests that (and encourages) society’s view of the “perfect woman” is something of a long-legged, rail-thin creature with the kinds of body measurements that only pre-teen girls could possess. But recent findings of a vintage article show what was considered Hollywood’s best figure back in 1931, and you may be shocked at the results.

You may not have heard of her, but back in the day, the late Dolores Del Rio was a stunning Mexican movie star who, with her “warmly curved” silhouette, was considered to have the “best figure in Hollywood” in the 1931 issue of Photoplay. The publication, which ceased in 1980, was the premier film fan magazine of Hollywood from 1911 through the ‘50s. In 1931, it selected 21 women to scrutinize down to their glove and shoe sizes to determine which one had the most ideal body. Ultimately, the 26-year-old Del Rio, who at 5’4 ½ weighed 120 pounds, beat out the likes of well-loved women like Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford due to her “roundly turned” figure.

Even more encouraging is the fact that Broadway producer Earl Carroll served as a judge for the contest, who preferred Del Rio to the Swedish actress Garbo due to the fuller figure of the former. “He feels Greta should weigh more than she does, be closer to the weight she was in Sweden before she reduced to comply with our American picture ideals,” the article states. Ultimately, Earls’s “final four” included Marion Davies, Dolores Del Rio, Clara Bow and Bebe Daniels, the “four girls who weigh the most for their height.”
American artist Earl Christy, who also served on the judging panel, supposedly started his elimination process by promptly waiving off two women for having protruding backbones, and three more because when they stood with their feet together, “daylight was visible between their knees.”

“Backbones should not be social, protruding like clipped wings when low cut evening gowns are worn,” Christy said. “They rob a woman of that lovely, rounded look. They are reminders of the mechanism of the body, of joint fitting into joint,” he continued. “Joints of course are very important, but they function quite as efficiently unseen.”
To this we say, “Cheers.” But what do you think? Charts are included so you can see just how these ladies measured up. How do you think society’s view of women’s body image has changed since 1931? Sound off in the comments box below.

Nicolle Keogh

Nicolle graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX in 2011 with degrees in Journalism and French. Originally from the East Coast, she is a recent San Diego transplant who is trying to take advantage of all that this sunny city has to offer. She was a contributor to her campus newspapers at SMU and was previously the Editor of San Diego-based start-up DailyCrowdsource....(Read More)

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