In 1912 Miss Elsie Scheel was hailed as "the perfect woman"

As we get ready to head into the New Year, no doubt many of us will be making resolutions. While I hope your plans for 2013 include having more fun, pursuing your goals, and seeing the world, I’m sure some will also want to lose weight.

While living healthy lives—no matter what the scale says—should be a priority, many have unrealistic goals when it comes to their weight.

These days, many women want to look more like a Victoria’s Secret model than be the best version of themselves they can be, and even if they reach their mythical, magical “goal weight,” they aren’t pleased.

This morning, while getting my daily Jezebel fix, I read an article about Elsie Scheel, a Brooklyn woman who was deemed “The Perfect Girl” by the New York Times in 1912.

At 5 feet, 7 inches tall and 171-pounds, Scheel beat out 400 coeds at Cornel University to be dubbed the “most nearly perfect specimen of womanhood.”

Today, Scheel would be considered overweight, her BMI (a rather arbitrary number that calculates healthiness based on your height and weight, not muscle mass or fitness level) would be 26.8, and she’d no doubt be pressured to change her diet of “sane living,” or as Scheel put it, eating “only what I wanted and when I wanted it,” to something more restrictive.

Reading about the then 24-year-old Scheel being held up as “physically perfect” (in addition to her very progressive ideas of what women can do) in 1912 helps to put into perspective the many ways in which women’s bodies have been viewed throughout the years.

Though the media hails ultra-thin actresses and models as the standard of beauty today, many woman are pushing for a more inclusive image. From plus size fashion bloggers demanding designers be more inclusive, to fitness conscious women teaching others how to live their healthiest life, more and more women are defining what “perfect” looks like for themselves.

[Via Jezebel & Gothamist]

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