Want To Know What The Ideal Body Shape Is?

Think you know what the ideal body shape for a woman looks like? Prepare for some surprises, and the urge to pack your bags and relocate…

When your entire job focuses around beauty, you tend to get a firsthand insight into the body battles women face every day, most of which stem from the perpetual pursuit of an unattainable (at least for most of us) social ideal of the perfect physique.

But what if we told you that same standard not only doesn’t hold true in other parts of the world, but that in many places around the globe, the so-called ‘bulge’ many of your clients are attempting to fight off is in fact considered to be the upmost standard of beauty?

In the following set of eye-opening images, you’ll see just what an ideal body looks like around the world, thanks to an experiment by UK group, Superdrug Online Doctors, who gave female graphic designers in 18 countries an image of a woman with the brief to Photoshop her into the ideal woman. The results are not only surprising, but a reminder of the innate fact that women are beautiful in every shape and size; something your clients might find refreshing to learn…

Source: superdrug.com
Source: superdrug.com

Above is the original, completely un-touched image the designers were given to work with. As you’ll see in the images below, their alterations range from minimal to extensive, reflecting the dramatic variations in social images of beauty around the world and the surprising truth that there is no such thing as a universally ideal woman…

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1. Argentina

Argentina is well-known for its obsession with plastic surgery in pursuit of the attainment of a Barbie-like image, so a well-endowed bust, slim waist and long-defined legs reign king in the attractiveness stakes.

Source: superdrug.com
Source: superdrug.com

2. South Africa

Considering South Africans enjoy warm weather for more than half of the year and subsequently spend a significant amount of time outdoors, it’s not altogether shocking the representation of the ideal South African body type is long, lean and tanned.

Source: superdrug.com
Source: superdrug.com

3. Venezuela

For a country notorious for it’s cosmetic surgery centred beauty pageants, the ideal Miss Venezuela looks surprisingly voluptuous and un-enhanced.

Source: superdrug.com
Source: superdrug.com

4. Spain

In a country where food-centred activities are central to conveying love, the ideal Spanish body type – also the fullest figured of the bunch – represents a culture non-fixated on restrictive eating with a healthy attitude toward body image and an enduring fascination with soft, womanly curves.

Source: superdrug.com
Source: superdrug.com

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5. USA

America has a lot of mixed messages when it comes to healthy living, with an abundance of fast food and a conflicting obsession with calorie restriction, eight-minute abs and those notorious thigh gaps, so it’s not altogether shocking the image of the ideal body here is one few women would ever be able to attain.

Source: superdrug.com
Source: superdrug.com

6. China

By far the most dramatic of all the submissions, China’s depiction of the ideal woman appears eerily distorted and anime-like, with exaggerated eyes, a tiny waist and an elongated head; she’s a far cry from the original image, with proportions that would give her a BMI around 17, below the anorexic threshold.

Source: superdrug.com
Source: superdrug.com

7. Colombia

Colombia may have suddenly gone up a few notches on many women’s travel lists, with the ideal woman’s physique representing a far more achievable look for most of us. She’s also indicative of the strong self-confidence and healthy body image Colombian women are known for possessing.

Source: superdrug.com
Source: superdrug.com

8. Philippines

With her proud bust and shapely waist and hips, the Philippines archetype of beauty epitomises a culture that upholds womanliness and female sexuality as the ultimate beauty attributes.

Source: superdrug.com
Source: superdrug.com

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9. Netherlands

With her fiery red hair, column shaped physique and elongated forehead, the Netherlands woman epitomises Western European notions of mystical, statuesque beauty.

Source: superdrug.com
Source: superdrug.com

10. Syria

With a clear emphasis on the pear shaped body, the ideal Syrian woman epitomises femininity, motherhood and curvaceousness.

Source: superdrug.com
Source: superdrug.com

11. Peru

Highlighting a clear predilection for the hourglass physique, Peru’s ideal woman has a narrow waist with shapely hips and breasts, channeling a look of the golden era of screen sirens like Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe.

Source: superdrug.com
Source: superdrug.com

12. Egypt

With strong, muscular legs and a tiny waist, Egypt’s ideal female body type is powerful and athletic, with a strong sense of sexuality.

Source: superdrug.com
Source: superdrug.com

13. Romania

One of the more fuller-figured images, Romania’s depiction of the female form appears decidedly less enhanced, with a clear emphasis on womanly curves.

Source: superdrug.com
Source: superdrug.com

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14. Italy

Appearing not dissimilar to a runway model, the Italian image of beauty may just be one of the more unattainable, with legs that go on forever, a tiny waist and pert breasts, and red underwear to up her ultra-sexual appeal.

Source: superdrug.com
Source: superdrug.com

15. Ukraine

Also opting for siren red lingerie, Ukraine’s image of female beauty maintains some of the original image’s feminine softness while slimming down her waist and limbs dramatically into a column body type.

Source: superdrug.com
Source: superdrug.com

16. Mexico

Taking note from the US, Mexico’s ideal woman has a Kardashian-like body, with an exaggerated tapered waist and shapely hips.

Source: superdrug.com
Source: superdrug.com

17. UK

Decidedly less shapely is the UK’s representation of female beauty, with a column-like physique and narrow hips, reminiscent of the statuesque bodies of stars like Charlize Theron and Megan Fox.

Source: superdrug.com
Source: superdrug.com

18. Serbia

Complete with enhanced facial features and a slimmed-down waist, the ideal Serbian woman’s look takes its cue from 1950s pin-up girls and the classic hourglass figure.

Source: superdrug.com
Source: superdrug.com

This article was originally published by Professional Beauty in 2015.

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105 thoughts on “Want To Know What The Ideal Body Shape Is?

  1. In Malaysia the ideal type of body just like philiphines, the round, bigger bust, hips and small waistline. There is many cosmetic product to upsize breast and hips size also slimming product to get smaller waistline.

  2. I think some of us are missing the point of the article. Different parts of the world find different physiques more enticing. I feel, here in the United States, we get brainwashed into what we see on TV. Years ago everyone was trying to look like Alley McBeal. She has a naturally ultra thin physique which most of us do not possess and yet the size 0″ for a few years was the thing to be. Today “Kardashian” is popular. Tomorrow, who knows. Why don’t we focus on what is healthy for us as individuals and not worry so much about what is in NOW because maybe tomorrow what YOU LOOK LIKE may be the IN THING!

    1. Absolutely- I agree with you.

      Same with what clothes and styles are in fashion.
      Matter of fact, body weight and appearance is a fashion.. It doesn’t usually change as fast as clothing fashions but- body weight and shape do too!

    2. That is somewhat true, but different ethnic groups seem to prefer different standards. Like The Black man and woman prefer, in general, a fuller, more voluptuous figure. Where as most white women are still very brainwashed into thinking they MUST look anorexic or as thin as possible. I have noticed that white men seem to prefer the barbie body or the skinny-model look. Of course I am generalizing here but I have noticed this. However the Jennifer Lopez and Kardashian phenomenons have seemed to change a few white men and women’s minds about not having to be ultra thin. The advertising industry is doing so much harm with the unattainable goals they portray as THE standard for beauty, especially when the photo shopping drastically slims down an already underweight figure. Now that is madness!

      1. Strange enough that the biggest male admirers carry the biggest beer gut around.

    3. Just shows how gullable some women are. Develop a more self centered ego and tell the fashion clowns where to shove their twisted images. Stop smoking and one is winning. Stop drinking (alcohol) and one is a winner too. Stop eating and another abyss is opening. Sad.

  3. Please explain your logic. The author did reference that this assignment was given to “female graphic designers in 18 countries an image of a woman with the brief to Photoshop her into the ideal woman”, therefore indicating that the people who live in those countries and are natively familiar with the common conception of beauty are the people who created the photos. They would, then, have the correct information as to the expectations of the region which they inhabit.

    1. Well I dont know for the rest of the countries, but at least the Spain one is just completely wrong. Wrong in the meaning women in Spain are expected to be thin, with big bust and a slim figure, just like the Italy one. Oh, and if you are tan, that’s a plus. And hey, I’m a woman who lives in Spain, I know what I’m saying.

      1. The Spain image is wrong, IMO. when I spent time in Spain, I marveled at the consistent image of the women. They were PETITE, SLIM and rather ATHLETIC, without huge breasts and they wore the nicest, slim pants that totally showed off their elegance.

      2. I’m not Spanish, but I was thinking the same thing anon…Except like you say, you should know. ?

    2. They said “make her into the ideal woman”, not “make her into what your particular country thinks is the ideal woman”. These don’t represent ideals of countries, they represent ideals of one person in a country.

  4. This is awesome. Amazing exercise in how we see idealism and whats expected of us as women to achive.

  5. Ultimately each of these are just one person’s opinion. However, it would be interesting to have a side by side on these. These were all done by women, but it would be interesting to see the same exercise done by men. Just to see if the women’s expectations of the ideal woman is the same as the men’s expectations of the ideal woman. As I said, it’s obviously not a scientific thing, since each image is just one person’s opinion.

    1. Almost universally, women see the ideal female as slimmer than what is normal for their culture, while men prefer voluptutous females with well defined breasts and butts. The further back in the past you search, trends seem to favor full figured females (and men). Look at medieval art, no emaciated people are seen in them

      1. No matter the fashion of the time- whether it’s epitomized by Twiggy, Marilyn Munroe, Clara Bow or Theda Bara 🙂 truthfully, curves, softness,and full breasts are always “in style” at least insofar as heterosexual men being attracted to women.

      2. Yes, definitely. Also, even slender women are naturally a little more pear-shaped or softer -lined than women believe they ought to be today.

      3. That’s because in times where you couldn’t just as easily go down to local supermarket and buy almost anything from all around the world, being fat was a symbol of wealth. It was generally only rich people who could afford portraits, so all the art is of bigger women.

        Nowadays, when food is so easily accessible in abundance, restraint is more attractive. It’s a cultural thing not entirely dictated by what men want, but what the underlying context is.

        Also, we know a LOT more today about medical science than we did 100’s of years ago. We know for a fact now that being overweight can cause things like diabetes and heart failure (among many other things) and this can be unattractive for obvious reasons.

        It’s not a coincidence that both men and women are attracted to healthy people. And before I get blasted for implying fat people can’t be healthy, I know that, but there are certain things that cannot be argued with, and fat being linked to poor health is one of them.

        People are more attracted to wealth than anything else, and that will probably never change, but the typical characteristics of wealthy people will change depending on cultural context, which is why sometimes people like overweight people and sometimes they like thin people.

        1. And why should I do that, is it bad to be skinny? Everyone says to be happy with who you are, and they just say that to curvy girls. And how is that fair? Because it sucks to be skinny.

  6. I’m from venezuela and i’m not agree with the “venezuela’s girl” showed in the post, i think every figure is gorgeous, but i dont think at all thats the kind of body that venezuelans consider “ideal”

  7. so many people use the term “anorexic” instead of “skinny” and that’s so wrong!! anorexia is a mental illness, not a BMI.

    1. not necessarily. Your weight doesn’t determine the gravity of your eating disorders. Having been anorexic myself, I’ve met a lot of people who were not even slim and they were seriously sick, whereas others were way thinner and their anorexia was not as severe.

      The stigma that surrounds eating disorders is part of the problem. You never know how bad it is just by looking at their body. And sometimes the sickest people don’t even get treatment because doctors just don’t think they’re “thin enough”.

      1. Agreed. I guess you are pointing in the other direction of the definition “disorder” when the patient is compensating a problem with extra food. Following the bombardment of the media’s different opinions, one has not got an easy task to stay in a “Goldilock” position. If one is refraining from smoking and consumption of alcohol, good health will be the reward. Refraining from food consumption as urged from the anti-obese lobby, does not result in an automatic stop, but is the entry to anorexia. Furthermore once the brain is underfed, a mental coma does set in, trapping the victim in an environment requiring a tough struggle to escape. Fair enough, the same applies for the “overeater” spectrum. Most important, patient should not be condemned and ruled, but educated and helped, possibly even to such a degree of governments intervening with restrictions on some food items. We have reached a stage in human development where the individual has lost the ability to stand up for themselves and be respected, but being bullied by mass standards and peer pressures instead of expressing their own individuality.

        1. no, I wasn’t talking about binge eating disorder. I am talking about anorexia. Anyway, that’s not the point, the point is that mental illnesses should not be used to describe “looks”. You don’t see a bald person and go “oh, look, he looks like cancer”. It would be stupid and ignorant, and same goes for this.

          1. Thanks for your clarification. I wasn’t aware how complex the illness could be and it certainly deserves more awareness in the media to gain some success in battling it.

  8. Very interesting but no dark people/countries? Bit strange. Doesn’t really provide a complete picture of body shapes ‘around the world’ as it states.

    1. True! I think( I hope!) this is just *one* little experiment, one cross section of ideas of more or less Western ideals.. I know there’s at least one Asian, but she didnt seem so different than the white girls.

  9. Italy was like, ‘This is too hard. I give up. I’m just going to cut her head off and paste it on some other model’s body.’ They literally did that. The arms/hands/fingernails for sure don’t come from the original pic and the body/pose don’t either. Shortcuts, tsk tsk. What happened to playing by the rules?

    1. No wonder Italy is fading away with a receding birth rate. That “ratty frame” is simply incapable of standing up to a pregnancy of 9 months. Don’t get me wrong, women are not walking incubators, but when they are ready to take up that gender job a bit more meat is required to survive it.

  10. anyone notice that Serbia just happens to have to most natural looking one…interesting…just my opinion though…also..i work for chinese people, and that is not what they look like…i mean they are thin, but not that.. p.s. terrible photoshop, but it gets the point across anyway. let us all agree that the origanal girl is way more beautiful than ANY of the “ideal images”

  11. The Mexican ideal is on point. Unfortunately, that’s what we’re taught even by our mothers that that is the ideal shape and yes, I think that if you show any Mexican male a picture of K Kardashian they would praise the curves and everything about her. Nicely done.

      1. Netherlands changed shoes to booties & several changed color from original. I also enjoyed seeing which ones changed facial features. Interesting.
        I’d like to see the perfect female body from these countries from men’s perspective, too.

    1. Italy just cropped her head onto a models body. Over all bad job, this is coming from an Italian Graphic designer also.

  12. Totally agree. A lot of Asian woman are very petite and generally slim but in proportion with their height etc.

  13. Where are the blondes? The only change in the hair color was on the Netherlands and Italy — almost all of the others have some form of darker hair.

  14. I think that you are wrong there. I have lived in the US my entire life and have never seen the country of Colombia spelled with a “u”. British Columbia… yes, District of Columbia… fine, but those are different countries. I have yet to find a map in the US that has the country of Colombia spelled with a “u”. Also, it’s Los Estados Unidos, not Unitos.

    Beside all that, the point of all of these comments was not to show whether or not it is okay for people to use their native language when pronouncing your country. The point is that this is the type of thing that an editor is supposed to know and catch prior to it being published.

  15. What bothered me was the use of the word “unattainable” for the photoshopped images that conveyed a taller slimmer beauty ideal. For some women, the curvier body is unattainable. Body shapes are genetic. Ideal beauty is cultural. This article had a tone that seems popular lately: Put down thinner body times in order to elevate curvier ones.

  16. Lexi hay who cares about morals it’s about beauty & all of the kardashians are gorgeous!

    1. I don’t think theyre all ( the Kardashians) so gorgeous myself. Only one is quite goodlooking in my opinion.
      Though you’re right.. The topic is beauty/what is perceived as beauty-not morals or even personality.

    2. Higher morals are definitely more important, Muamy, but even while I don’t really like the looks the Kardashian women have, this discussion really is only about what and who is perceived as attractive in different cultures.
      It’s not right or wrong, it just *is*– like a rock or a flower exists, whether we like it or don’t like it.

  17. Terrible job with photoshop. This clearly wasn’t done by a pro. More like a horny 15 year old. The U.S. one is basically Kim Kardashian, not exactly a current fashion model; more like a select porn actress for people who like huge butts. Or maybe the ‘graphic artists’ they say supposedly edited these are comic book kids. That might explain it; closer to Lara Croft.

  18. LOL! So very true!! It seems as though the new generation of journalists has lower expectations to uphold, thus producing inferior quality pieces of work. Why even bother going to college anymore? 🙁
    This is one instance where I’m actually happy to be older. Haha!!

  19. It shouldn’t matter where you’re from. You can’t just change the spelling of a country? It’s on the map as “Colombia” and is always spelled as such.

    We do spell other things with the word “Columbia” with a U. Just like you said. 🙂
    Not when referring to the country, though. No biggie. That’s not the point of the article at all. It’s just one of the author’s typo’s. LOL.

    1. Well, we chage the spelling of other countries all the time. For instance we spell Deutschland G E R M A…..

  20. Don’t you think the justifications below are just silly? I do. I don’t understand what could possibly be so hard about learning both spellings, especially with how complex a spelling system the English language has.

  21. I was about to come back here to give you a reply, but somebody already did it for me ha ha. As Holly said, it’s not a matter of how it could be pronounced or called in your native language. Anywise, it’s just a pet peeve of mine when people misspell country names that we all were supposed to learn in middle school. This is a published article that, assumedly, has undergone an editing/proofreading process prior to publication. Misspelling a country’s name (that, apparently, “has always been spelled with a u”) was only one of the errors in this article.

  22. It would be interesting to hear the male impressions of these pics. I dare say most of them would be happiest with a woman who is comfortable in her own skin, regardless of her “hourglass figure” or legs that go on forever. Having a good attitude about body image and a positive self esteem continues to be the sexiest and most alluring attribute of all.

  23. None look very good ,all out of shape ,either with the photoshop way of distorting or curvy yet soft undefined in various degrees of each country_ Asians received the worst chopping. I have a curvy body, modeled for painters and art school but if I could have a basically stick figure, small breasts and hips without a (10” smaller waist then hips) along with longer thin arms and legs.. I’d take it in an instant,, wish I could exchange bodies with a girl who has the stick figure I want who wants a curvy body as mine. Even when I am very thin I still have these curves I do not want.

  24. why is beauty always 16-20 yr olds? I was in the best shape of my life at 46-48 until a fedex truck hit me damaging 17 discs. Atrophy set in and I am now 53 working so hard to get my shoulders back in place and muscle tone without getting a migraine. I had a photo shoot at 46 and at 5’5 weight 128 I never looked better. Now illness took me down to 97lbs and it is hard to get my dancer body back. I ATE AND ATE Now at 110 left with cellulite in the back of my thighs the challenge is daunting for fitness. I have hypogammglobulinanemia with low IG an inherited immune disorder as well. I went from training for aerial arts to bent shoulders and the inability to exercise without migraine. PT is helping me expect too much. Women are catty. I wake with extreme pain and just want my body back.

    1. Instead of body shapes can we have the brain sizes of those women presented who are willing to take part in this fashion circus ?

      1. There is only one woman in the above pictures, it’s all photoshopped versions of one photo of one woman who may or may not have known what the photo would be used for. Doubtful that there is any correlation to intelligence.

        1. Sorry, my mistake. Let me phrase it again: I meant the brain size of women (represented) who are plyable accessories in this fashion madness (not that/those photoshop model/s). Be a women, be proud of what you have and BE YOURSELF (not Barbie…)

  25. I’m amazed that so many of the “ideals” have thick thighs … It’s one thing to be curvaceous, another to be hefty, which many of these “ideal” images are … at least in the thighs. I cringe to think what some of these women will look like when they are older. The original woman is considerably overweight, and will almost certainly be fat/obese by middle age.

  26. I do not really know what to say here except there are many types of the ‘perfect body’ perception. To be honest, I was shocked by a few of them as entirely different from what I have always known. Good to see that more ‘voluptuous’ women are portrayed.

  27. Agreed. I’m fat and have worked my rear off for 10 years…only lost 30 lbs which came right back. My sister in law is tiny…too tiny. Her doctor advised her to gain weight. She can’t gain weight…and she’s been trying for years.

  28. Agreed. Too many factors are considered by “the supreme being” in assembling everyone of us. How boring if the “ideal clones” (not clowns) are seen everywhere. Be strong, BE YOURSELF !

  29. This is so sad. Ideal body shape is what you get when a physically active woman has 20-25 % body fat.

  30. Each photo is the opinion of ONE person of said country. That doesn’t define anything.

  31. Next time don’t call a picasso’s fan for a graphic artist..all the elaboration are terrible except for the Italian where they added a real slim body..btw the research tries to tell that obese people are ok. Why?

  32. It may be largely to do with the dirigible-like proportions of the original, but save the Chinese and Italian models, they’re all unacceptably fat. Maybe the Dutch one is reasonable.

  33. I know there are some cultural and racial differences, but “ideal” shapes are stupid. Women everywhere come in all sizes and shapes and each should be taken on their own merits. Also, what’s important is the whole package, not just figure or shape, but hair, smile, eyes and overall symmetry and harmony.

  34. Hey morons, nobody wants you to be fat and each nation has a bias toward the hair colour that’s most normal at home

  35. There was no African, black woman, very disappointing. There was a white South African woman, but the majority of the people in South Africa are black people. I thought it was a little short sighted on the part of the artist’s display of different women of the world to leave the black woman out of the display altogether.

  36. The BMI scale is different for people of East Asian ethnicity as well, weight related diseases start at a lower threshold so the East Asian image will naturally be thinner.

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