Sports have grown popularity among women through centuries. The first traces of women doing sports dates back to 776 B.C. No girls were allowed at the first Olympics. However, footraces for women were held every four years during the Games of Hera.
Through centuries, women have thrived and enjoyed the sports scene. From more robust and masculine sports like horseback riding, shooting competitions, and bullfighting, games done by women have shifted in the early 19th century and became more toned down.
Hence, a more lightweight sport such as tennis and golf became more popular since these sports are more acceptable for women to engage.
Women in the early 19th century had to face a double standard of women’s modesty being idealized. The double standard caused society to frown upon sports due to the threat it imposes on women’s fertility.
During this period, women are ruled by their reproductive systems. Experts declared they have a limited amount of energy in their bodies which would affect their performance if they were to join in active sports. From toning down the types of sportswomen were allowed to play, it neared to almost banning women from playing games in general.
Hence, this phenomenon was a result of another double standard that women should only focus on being ‘ladylike’ and being prim and proper.
At present, women defy double standards. Women are more empowered to do the things that they want, including sports. Although modern women’s mindsets have changed, most men and some women remain to be backward thinkers.
One of the most popular stigmas that should be dispelled is the prejudice against women who have muscular physiques. Due to the increasing popularity of advertisements and shows, the double standards for women have spread like wildfire.
Women’s roles were dictated by the advertisements on posters and the commercials and shows on TV. The ‘perfect’ woman is depicted as a homemaker who can defy the natural processes of aging while rearing children and not gaining any weight. But, no double standard is more emphasized than the pressure on women to have the ‘perfect figure.’
The most prominent and most influential industry that has the most substantial impact on how we see women today is the fashion industry. We see fashion in print media, television, and even hear about it on the radio.
Fashion plays a significant role in shaping our standards of what a ‘perfect figure’ should be. Through centuries, the ‘ideal’ body type that a woman should have has changed through the course of time.
Different countries have various standards due to the differences in their cultures and beliefs. However, due to globalization, technology, and mainstream media, the whole world has picked up most of the beauty standards from the west.
The search for the ‘ideal body’ of a woman has been a continuous journey of change. Each era in time has a corresponding type that marks history and reflects the mindset and the state of economies and societies.
In ancient Greece, the ideal body that a woman should have is a voluptuous body with a lot of curves which symbolized fertility and beauty. It wasn’t until the Renaissance period when women started wanting more defined curves and introduced the corset.
As time went by, skinnier women became more attractive. The beginning of the modern ‘skinny trend’ started in the 1960s with a slender and tall model named Twiggy. From then on, the fashion industry found its ideal body type and has been setting it as a definite standard in the world of fashion.
Fashion is always connected with high society. The first iconic fashion model was Empress Elisabeth of Austria in the 1860s. Elisabeth was anorexic and became a huge style icon.
Fashion experts explain that they choose skinny women to model clothes because extreme thinness neutralizes the distraction of the female body and lets the audience focus more on the aesthetic of the clothing.
Scientists have also emphasized that extreme thinness should not be the ‘ideal’ body of women. In fact, more toned and voluptuous bodies are preferred. Since more women are engaging in a wide array of active sports, women with more muscle are now the ideal in the society.
Muscles are meant to be strong. Both women and men have muscles, and it should not be a basis for femininity or masculinity.