The ideal physique of today’s modern man might be all about bulging biceps and rippled six-packs, but as you can see from this fascinating series of images, the perfect male body wasn’t always like this.
They were made by a Pittsburgh-based graphic designer and researcher called Nickolay Lamm, who also makes a range of ‘standard human body proportioned‘ Lammily dolls designed to challenge the unrealistic proportions of Mattel’s Barbie. For this latest project he used 3D computer modelling to show how the ideal male form has changed over the last 150 years. Taking into account several variables such as changes in culture and availability of food, and influenced by various images that Lamm collected from each decade he focused on, the results are often surprisingly different from what you might expect.
In the 1870s for example, wide waists were all the rage because they symbolized wealth and prosperity. There was even a Fat Man’s Club in Connecticut for people who weighted at least 200lbs. However, the club closed down at the turn of the 20th century because public perception about body sizes began to change, especially with the dawn of Hollywood. Actors had to be lean in order to compensate for the fact that the camera would often make them look bigger than they were, and this trend culminated in the 1960s when skinny became the most desirable body shape for men. This all changed again in the 1980s though when the rise in popularity of gyms and health clubs saw the ideal male physique begin to bulk out with muscle. This was also influenced by a growing interest in bodybuilding inspired by actors such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. Scroll down to learn more about how the ideal male body has changed over time and see what it looks like today. Which one do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below.
1870s – The Fat Man’s Club
“Today, obesity is often associated with poor economic status, but before people had easy access to food, plump figures were considered attractive because they suggested upper class status.”
1930s – The Muscular Mesomorph
1960s – The Lean Rocker
“In the 1960s, beautiful bodies hadn’t been very important. Young Americans, and some not-so-young ones, relied on dramatic clothing and masses of hair more than perfect measurements to express individuality and sexuality.” — Lynne Luciano
1980s – The Muscular Man
“In the 1970s, instead of being expressed through political activism and protest as in the 1960s, youthfulness would be projected by the body – a body that was as sexy, fit, and lean as an eighteen-year-old’s.” — Lynne Luciano
1990s to present – The Everyman
“He looks great but he’s not massive. He’s just got really good abs, good arms and an alright chest. And that’s what people want: to be lean, have a six pack…It used to be bodybuilding…but that look’s unattainable — you have to take steroids. With physique training, instead of spending 10 years trying to build mass, you just get really lean.” — Esquire
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