Taking off of American Duchess's post about vintage body shapes
, I was curious to see how my families general body shape has changed over the last 140 or so years. I'm fortunate that my mothers side of the family were enthusiastic about having pictures taken, and saving them. We always said that the female genetics on her side of the family were extremely strong (I look a great deal like my mother, who greatly resembles her mother, etc and my cousins all attest to the "Rothenberger booty" as we called it in highschool). Genetically, my ancestors all seem to carry their weight in their hips. I never thought much of it until I started gaining gradual weight since college; all in my hips. But, it would be even more so the case if I wore a girdle or corset. Honestly, a lot of the women in the pictures I have seem to have very similar body shapes and if it weren't for the corset/girdle/fashion style would probably be considered "fat" by modern standards. I prefer the term "fleshy" myself (I always picture Marilyn Monroe in Some Like it Hot with that term).
Addendum: I changed the two questionable photographs. I talked with my mother about them and she recognized a few things that meant it was actually my Grandmother's family (which we all thought we had no
photographs of!). I still desperately wish I had a picture of my Great-great-grandmother from that side. Turns out she was a gold-digger who married 5 times, divorced three of them!
Jennie (Carter) Heavilon [b. 1856]. My Great-great-grandmothers youngest sister.
Hannah (Carter) Zaring [b. 1837] and her two daughters Lucy [b. 1857] and Daisy [b. 1872]. My Great-great-grandmothers oldest sister and nieces.
Linnie Inez (Carter) Rothenberger [b. 1854]. My Great-great-grandmother. 11 children definitely means wide hips!
Sarah (Beisel) Ruch [b. 1858]. My Great-great-grandmother.
Edith Pearl (Rothenberger) Burkhalter [b. 1883] and Eva Henrietta (Ruch) Rothenberger [b. 1884]. My Great-grandfathers sister and my Great-grandmother. Eva married into the family in 1903, so I'm guessing the picture is just after that.
Edith Pearl (Rothenberger) Burkhalter [b.1883]. Same person as above, just a few years and fashion change later.
Katie (Spencer) Keller [b. 1894]. My great-Grandmother holding my Grandmother.
Katie (Spencer) Keller again with my Grandmother and her sister Edith [b. 1902].
Katie (Spencer) Keller [b. 1894]. My Great-grandmother.
Maxine (Keller) Rothenberger. My Grandmother [b.1918].
Irene (Rothenberger) Frazier [b. 1909] on left. My Great-aunt.
Ruch/Roscoe family event. My Grandmother (Maxine) on right.
While some of these ladies could be considered "skinny" by modern standards without their foundations, all of those pictures place them at pre-child ages. After that they all have more significant curves. Oh, and note the feet of the lady on the left in the picture just above. Those don't look tiny to me. My mother said the Rothenberger/Ruch side always had big feet (I get my narrow feet from the Kellers and Shalkowskis). My Grandmother has small feet, but she's always worn too small of shoes. They were poor when she was little and she had to wear her buttoned up boots far longer than she should have. Now, she's just accustomed to having tight shoes.
This just emphasizes why having the proper undergarments for the time AND for your body shape is so important. You may not easily be able to train your waist and posture in to that lovely 1900s S-shape above, but that dress would look awfully baggy and wrinkly without a smooth corset. As for body shape I have a 27" waist and a girdle from What Katie Did that I love to death. It smoothes out that little bulge we all suck in in front with no effort and almost no discomfort. I can't imagine a 1930s bias cut gown without it!