We’re living at a weird
time. There’s 24-hour gyms, personal trainers, millions of various fitness
classes available not only in nearby fitness studios but also online. There are
video games that are aimed at making you exercise more. But there are also more
snacks and fast food places and convenient food deliveries available than ever
before. We keep hearing in the media about obesity rates skyrocketing but we’re
also all obsessed with looking fit. But what is fit? What’s a healthy body? Is
there one ideal for all? Let’s take a walk down memory lane and see what was
considered healthy throughout history.

Strong
Is Healthy

During the Middle Ages
being strong and muscular was definitely a bonus for both men and women. Most
people had hard physical jobs be it working in the field, chopping down trees
or doing household chores. There were no electrical appliances so everything
was done using human strength. Interestingly people were shorter on average
than they are now. And that was healthy then.

Dental
Hygiene

We think of dental
hygiene as something relatively new yet it’s a part of our everyday regime to
stay healthy. We want good teeth and use lots of products to keep them strong
and white and shiny. Everyone wants a Hollywood smile. So owning a bunch of dental
hygiene products and spending hundreds of dollars on whitening your teeth is
considered healthy. In ancient Rome, dental hygiene wasn’t exactly something
they fussed about too much, yet according to historians, archaeologists and
recent excavations from Pompei, Romans used to have very healthy teeth and no
cavities. How did they do that without flossing and whitening? They ate a
healthy diet that had almost no sugar in it. There’s more than one way of
having healthy teeth as you see.

Posture

Most of us have bad
posture because we keep sitting at our computer or staring at our phones all
the time. In the 18th century, Victorian women wore corsets to correct their
posture or just to encourage their bodies to get accustomed to good posture.
Another reason for wearing corsets back then was to keep your organs in the
correct places and therefore have a healthy body. Today we find the idea of
corsets to be ridiculous, but then it was healthy.

The
Gibson Girl

From the beginning of
the 20th century, the meaning of “a healthy body” shifted and became more about
beauty standards than actual health. It’s something we still do even in the
modern-day. We associate beauty with health. Back then the picture of health
was a Gibson Girl – tall, poised and with a perfect hourglass figure.

Roaring
20s

In the 1920s the ideal
body shape was slim. Women didn’t really care about having hourglass figures.
If anything, a more androgynous look was favourited. Women wore undergarments
that flatten their curves and dresses with dropped waists that didn’t
accentuate their hips.

The
Great Depression

On the other hand,
during the great depression, everyone was warned against getting too skinny, it
wasn’t desirable anymore. Women were encouraged to eat enough and have a more
voluptuous figure, even though everyone was struggling to get enough food
because of the dire economic situation.

Vegetarian
60s

In the 60s being healthy
was all about your diet. Vegetarianism was beginning to become popular and
people considered a meatless diet to be healthier for their body. And sure it
worked if you ate lots of legumes, fruits and veggies. But lots of people took
the easy option and just ate lots of vegetarian comfort foods like pasta and
cakes.

Low-Fat
70s and 80s

During the 70s and 80s, a
‘healthy’ diet for women meant eating as little fat as possible and restricting
your calorie intake. Aerobics was huge too. And being tan also was considered
healthy. These days it just sounds like an unsustainable, restrictive diet that
lacks in much-needed fats and micronutrients with a side of exhaustion and
sunburn. Yet just 40 years ago that was ‘healthy’.

Low
Carb 90s

In the 90s and ’00s
suddenly fats were fine but carbs were evil. Carbs were actually considered to
be unhealthy and if you wanted to have a healthy body you would avoid carbs
like the plague. Which again, now sounds insane. Because we know that we need all
the food groups.

Clean
Eating

Right now we’re in a clean eating craze. We’re encouraged to read labels, eat fresh veggies bought from farmers markets. It’s all about free-range eggs and organic produce. You can be vegan, vegetarian or just eat clean but also make sure you’re moving around and not just sitting at a desk. It sounds like a good mix. It seems like we’ve logically gotten to a point where we know that we need everything in moderation. But that’s what we think now and there’s no way of knowing what will be considered healthy 10 or 20 years into the future. If there’s one thing we learned from this is that “healthy body” standards change with the times so it’s best not to get hung up on trends.

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