Elsie Scheel was crowned the perfect woman by Cornell University in December of 1912. Before photoshop was even a thought The Times called Scheel “the most nearly perfect physical specimen of womanhood.” She also consumed beefsteak, never drank tea or coffee and was interested in cars, horticulture and was a suffragette.
Scheel, who was picked from a group of 400 Cornell women was 5ft. 7in. tall and weighed 171 pounds. It is safe to say that culture of 1912 held a very different ideal of female physical perfection than the one we see promoted today in the majority of women’s magazines, and in movies. In January 2010, blogger Kate Harding calculated what Scheel’s BMI would have been. She wrote:
Miss Elsie Scheel’s BMI would have been 26.8, placing her squarely in today’s dreaded “overweight” category. At Banana Republic, to pick a random contemporary store, she would wear a size 8 top, a 12/14 bottom, and probably a 12 dress with the bust taken in.
I wonder how being labeled a “perfect woman” in the newspapers affected Elsie’s life. Back about the time Ms. Scheel was born, Lillian Russell (American Actress and Singer b. 1861 d.1922) was considered the most beautiful woman in America. At the height of her fame Russell was 5′ 6″ and weighed 180 lbs. Remember that, in 1912, “thin” equaled “sick.” The inference would have been that if someone was thin it was because they suffered from tuberculosis or some other incurable wasting disease. Fifteen years after that, the ideal woman was shorter and completely flat chested. Fast forward to 2012 and the general consensus among the “experts” would be:
“Poor girl. She desperately needs to lose at least 40 pounds”!
In my opinion the problem with some women today is that they all want to follow that “model body” or “teenager body” regimen. They aren’t even fat, yet, they feel they need to look like match sticks. In reality every woman is perfect and it doesn’t matter what your body size is. If you go to My Body Gallery and type in your weight and height you will see what normal women looks like.
Back in 1912 they didn’t have magazine covers with photoshopped women to create unreal expectations on men and other women. I honestly can’t wait to see “Miss Perfect 2015”
Will she be a size -5?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. After all, even the models we see in magazines wish they could look like their own images.
Linda Secaspina- Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac