Claim: A 1955 photograph from Time magazine depicted that era's "perfect body."
Example: [Collected via Twitter, March 2015]
The March 2015 iteration was shared many times, but the attribution to "Time magazine's 'perfect body'" was not new: It had appeared on Twitter back in
The claims about the photograph echoed similar long-circulating rumors about Marilyn Monroe's dress size, widely reported to the equivalent of a modern
Right away, I discovered that Marilyn was shockingly and unimaginably slender. She was sort of like Kate Moss but fleshier on top. Didn't see that coming, did you?
When it came to finding mannequins to fit her dresses, I simply couldn't. M.M.'s drag was too small for the average window dummy. Smaller "petite" mannequins existed, but I could not bring myself to place Marilyn's iconic garments on these perky fiberglass dollies. The frocks seemed too important and historic.
The woman depicted in the photograph in question is not a 1955 model for Time or any other magazine of the era. While the precise source of the image above is not clear, its subject is adult film star Aria Giovanni, who wasn't even born until 1977.
Authentic 1955 images of women wearing bikinis from print material of the day include this example from a February edition of JET magazine:
The earliest appearance of the "perfect body" photo misattribution we've seen so far dates from November 2013, and the rumor also bears some resemblance to a purportedly authentic list of advice titled "How to Be a Good Wife" (also believed to date to 1955). That text circulated widely in e-mail in the '90s and '00s, but it too was a fabrication rooted in misconstrued cultural ideals of the era.
Last updated: 11 October 2015
Doonan, Simon. "Marilyn Monroe's Two Secrets." Slate. 18 December 2013.