New ideas about female appearance, which began in WWI, became full-blown beauty standards in WWII: The hourglass shape was decidedly out, as was the corset, which had amplified it. Now, says Fischler, the preferred body shape was “tubular” and thin. Also new was the idea that women could — and should — take control of their own body shape, rather than rely on corsets to do it for them. The concept of dieting became popularized, along with this sentiment of self-determination. (As one article put it
: “You are the artisan of your own unhappiness,” if you start and fail a diet.) Even now, Fischler points out, thinness is treated as a personal achievement. “Being fit and lean is currently considered a matter of self-discipline, of dedication, of courage.” Body fat had once been a sign of prosperity and of energy storage in the body, but from this point on, he writes
, it was considered “a useless, parasitic load.” Fatness was now a symbol of weakness, laziness, and even immorality. It was a personal failure.