Greta Garbo

Photo: Getty Images

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According to an article on The Daily Beast from March 2009, a researcher named Dr. Terry Pettijohn II says men instinctively choose women based on how they perceive the state of the world. Dr. Pettijohn tested his hypothesis by looking at the facial features of film actresses and the bodies and faces of women in Playboy magazine. "He found that during rocky economic and social [times], the most popular actresses appeared more mature, with smaller eyes, thinner faces and stronger chins," the article reads. "By contrast, when things were good, the popular actresses had more baby-faced qualities—bigger eyes, chubbier cheeks."

An article in the London Telegraph in February 2009 quotes a designer and author named Stephen Bayley who says: "In times of plenty, there's a contrarian chic to having an austere shape. Equally, in times of want, there is an opposing taste for a voluptuous one. What the female body illuminates is that ever-present conflict between acceptance of the real and pursuit of the ideal."

Is that true?

Well, in the 1920s, the U.S. economy experienced a post–World War I boom of new wealth and consumer goods. Actress Greta Garbo was popular and beloved for her rain-thin "flapper" physique. Flappers were a generation of women who got jobs, stayed out late, drank and smoked, wore fashionable clothes and short hairstyles and prized skinniness.


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