It doesn’t seem so long ago that the ‘in’ figure to have was that of Kate Moss – the 90’s super-thin, super-pale, super-cheekboned ideal of the perfect woman. Of course, the 90’s wasn’t the first time we’ve aspired to be waif-like – the 20’s flapper was shapeless and boyish and in the 60’s we were treated to the gamine, chic petiteness that was Twiggy. Although relatively brief, these fads marked a big change in how we viewed the female form and altered what was considered to be sexually attractive.
Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, I was less influenced by the rising celebrity of The Supermodels – those unattainable tall, slender and Amazonian specimens of physical perfection like Cindy Crawford, Linda Evengelista and Naomi Campbell than I was by the ‘heroin chic’ look which took over the modelling scene in the mid 90’s. For the first time really since the 60’s, women once again aspired to be big-eyed, bony and look great in black and white photos. That was me. Throughout the noughties I wanted my hips to jut through ivory skin, my eyes to look more hollow and sorrowful than was strictly healthy and I wanted to look like I was too busy raving all night in Seven For All Mankind Jeans and ostrich feathers to need food. And I can tell you, it was all a bit of an effort.
So having fought manfully all my life to fit in (and stay in) a size 8, it briefly came as something of a relief when Kim K came along. Yes, ok, of course throughout the 90’s and noughties there was a consistent presence from female role models who are curvy AND gorgeous – even gorgeous BECAUSE they’re curvy, like Salma Hayek, Kate Winslet and Gemma Arterton, who reminded us that real women don’t always stand around on windswept beaches wearing Calvin Klein knickers and looking like they needed a sausage roll. And then Christina Hendricks went and got named Sexiest Woman In The World by men’s mag Esquire and we all bought bullet bras and wiggle dresses to celebrate our womanly shapes, but it’s pretty safe to say that until Kim came along curvy wasn’t really ‘A Thing’.
However, with the rise of Ms Kardashian, curvy has now gone ‘extra’. Not only is androgyny firmly out, but the slim-but-on-the-verge-of-juicy shapeliness of, say, Marilyn Monroe or Scarlett Johansson has been way surpassed by Kim’s quite frankly animated and pneumatic curves. This is a whole new ball game – one where boobs must be as perky as they are large, the waist should be small and uber-toned - and the derriere! Well, let’s put it this way, there’s no shame these days if baby got back.
It’s certainly not the first time that curves have been fashionable. From Elizabethan corsetry to post-war, barely-contained bombshells, and thence on to Kim K, the hourglass shape just keeps coming back and this time it’s firmer and more exaggerated than ever. Whether you’re naturally blessed with this supernaturally feminine silhouette, do 500 squats a day, require the removal of a few ribs or the addition of implants to boobs and/ or bum, girls (and guys) are going crazy for this look.
What is it about the hourglass shape that we love so much? Personally, I think it’s the overstated difference between the male and female shape and Kim does this to a T. When assessing what’s sexually attractive, most guys love the complete opposite of the male form, hence the boobs are large and pert, the waist is small enough to fit two manly hands around its circumference and the butt is big and perfectly round. There are few men who could pull off this shape (or who would even try), which is precisely what makes it so appealing to the male gaze – it’s femininity gone hyper and utterly delicious.
So now begins the next slog: eat, sleep, gym, repeat. Actually, sod it. At my age I think I’ll embrace my size 10 shape (ok – a 12 on a bad day), enjoy that slice of cake and just fantasise about being Kim for a day.
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