Art and Body Image of Women Throughout Time Essay

Submitted By Kristina-Klimenov
Words: 1436
Pages: 6

Art and Image of Women
Throughout Time
By: Kristina Klimenov

How Did We Get Here?

The question is how did we go from the portrayal of the female body

From This
To This

Early Portrayal of The Women Body

Artists like Sandro Botticelli, Lucas Cranach The Elder, and Peter Paul Rubens represent women having full figures in their paintings (1500s-1600s).
Artists dealt with societal pressures to constantly be improving their works of art and they would often create unrealistic images of women with their idea of “perfect” body parts
Artists in Europe struggled to find a balance between realism and idealism as they strived to produce the art demanded by their geographical location and era.
Painters like Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino often used their idea of what a beautiful women should look like to produce the ideal woman and would go to the extremes to change the body shape of the woman to fit societies standards St Catherine of Alexandria by
Raphael, 1507

Sandro Botticelli

Born and Died in Florence (1445-1510)
Painted La Primavera and Venus and Mars which both contain his representation of the beauty and grace of women through his lens Shown below is one of Botticelli’s paintings, The Birth of Venus
(1482) that was encouraged by Platonism, to idealize the shapes of the characters
•Botticelli portrays Venus at the center, as the ideal of female beauty. The figure of the woman is considered to be the ideal body shape; notice that her body is neither plump or too thin, it is in the middle with unexaggerated curves.

Peter Paul Rubens

Born on June 28, 1577 in Siegen, Germany and Died on May 30,1640 in Antwerp Belgium
Rubens was one of the most influential and active artists during the Baroque Era as his paintings expressed Religion, mythology, sensuality, and movement. He delighted in women that had larger proportions and was not into painting slender women as seen in his works His paintings of full figured women inspired the term
“Rubensesque” which defines a plump woman with large, round hips as attractive and beautiful.

Famous Works By Rubens

Venus At The Mirror, 1615

The Three Graces, 1635

•It is evident in these paintings that plumper women were portrayed as beautiful and gracious

How Are Women Portrayed Today?

It wasn’t until 1839 when photography was invented that real images of the human body were out in the open to humans
Real women are warped and digitally altered to enhance their image.
Advertisements in magazines billboards, television, and the internet contribute to creating the fantasy of an ideal woman. The image of an ideal women is driven by the media to produce an unrealistic idea of what beauty is
As women are given the message that they are not thin enough through advertisements stressing the importance of being skinny, the diet industry makes billions
Women are portrayed as sexual objects as their bodies are often exposed and dominated by males in advertisements
Example of Sexualization of Women, Dolce &
Gabbana Advertisement

Effects of Photoshop

We can see here that
Brittney’s original picture was altered by slimming her waist and thighs, evening out her skin tone, and airbrushing her face and body.

Image retrieved from

What Are The Facts?

In a study done by the National Heart, Lung and
Blood Institute, 40% of young girls aged 9 and 10 say that they have tried to lose weight
After watching a music video by Britney Spears or a
TV clip from the show “Friends,” 10 year old girls and boys admitted to the researchers that they were unhappy with their bodies
According to study conducted in 1996, the amount of time a teenager spends watching movies and music videos is correlated with the level of dissatisfaction with their bodies and desire to be skinny
53% of American girls are unsatisfied with their bodies and by the time girls reach seventeen, this number grows to 78%