The chubby, white women you see in these paintings kind of prove otherwise. What society finds attractive about women is tied to how well-off they are, socially and economically. And it was the Industrial Revolution that changed everything.
So nowadays, pale skin tends to signify someone who spends too much time indoors playing World of Warcraft. But in earlier times, it was fashionable for women to pile on makeup in order to make themselves as white as humanly possible. Back then, having a tan was a giant fashion faux pas, a sign that you were destitute enough to have to go out and till your own fields. The paler you were, the surer it was that you had enough slaves to do all that for you.
We're sure we've seen these women in The Matrix.
The pale-skin trend didn't really let up until influential women like Coco Chanel started taking extravagant vacations, reinventing bronze skin as a sign of wealth and comfort. A pale complexion became a symptom of spending all your time working indoors.
As for the love handles those girls were sporting, before the Industrial Revolution and the era of easily accessible fatty foods, people who carried a few surplus pounds were those who simply had enough money to afford the extra food. Back then, the women who today adorn the front pages of fashion magazines would have been seen as poverty-stricken charity cases, much more objects of pity than desire.
Now, the dynamic is completely reversed -- being thin requires more wealth and spare time, since an organic vegan diet and a personal trainer are more expensive than a daily diet of fried meat.
So while guys can claim that status doesn't matter when it comes to women, it really does -- just on a subconscious level. And of course, the one thing to take home from all of these fashion trends is that we've always been shallow and superficial. Just for different reasons.
Read more of Yosomono at his headquarters at the GaijinAss Web page or follow him on Twitter @GaijinAss.
For more on fashion, check out 6 Popular Fashion Trends (That Killed People). Or learn about why senors act the way they do in 6 Obnoxious Old People Habits (Explained by Science).
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