Celebrity Arms

Can you imagine Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s with taut, sculpted arms? Can you imagine Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2 without them? Celebrity arms have been something of a fashion statement ever since talkies began. Today I’d like to explore the evolution of Hollywood Arms. The 1930s were all about the dramatic face, the arched brow, the porcelain complexion. I’m quite sure the only form of arm toning anyone did was holding cocktails at Clark Gables infamous parties. I found a great publicity shot of Greta Garbo “working out” with a track team and a lovely cocktail gown shot of Marlene Dietrich. You’ll notice there’s no tone at all in the arms.

greta-garbo

Greta Garbo 1930s, at the track

Marlene Dietrich 1930s

Marlene Dietrich 1930s

In the 1940s things hadn’t changed much. Apparently Rosie the Riveter, a cartoon, could be strong but real ladies still needed to be demure. I found a bathing suit still of Veronica Lake, a stunning, beautiful woman. How many of you think she’d make it in Hollywood today?

A lovely Ava Gardner, 1940s

A lovely Ava Gardner, 1940s

Veronica Lake 1940s

Veronica Lake 1940s

By the 1950s there were a few pics of the stars working out. There is a famous one of Marilyn Monroe with weights, but this didn’t translate much into sleeker arms. You can notice a little more muscle tone though. If anything voluptuous was the buzzword for the 1950s and our screen idols reflected that.

Marilyn Monroe 1950s

Marilyn Monroe 1950s

Bridge Bardot 1950s

Bridge Bardot 1950s

The 1960s brought us back to a thinner period. Perhaps the somber news from Vietnam toned down the curves. We were treated to such delightful actresses as Audrey Hepburn and Bridget Bardot. The ideals of beauty slimmed down and arms right along with them.

One of the most famous bikini shots ever. Ursula Andress 1960s

One of the most famous bikini shots ever. Ursula Andress 1960s

Audrey Hepburn, a 1960s stunner

Audrey Hepburn, a 1960s stunner

The 1970s brought the first extreme body type. The actress/model Twiggy best exemplifies the waif look, a look that reappears from time to time on the pages of Vogue. These girls didn’t exercise. They couldn’t have, they had to conserve what little calories they ate just to function! I added the other famous bathing suit shot here, Farrah Fawcett’s block-buster poster.

Twiggy, 1970s

Twiggy, 1970s

Farrah's famous 1970s poster

Farrah's famous 1970s poster

By the 1980s the fitness craze was roaring along. People were “jogging” and “working out” There were even movies set in those new fangled things called “health clubs.” We watched Olivia Newton John get Physical and we watched Jane Fonda make a small fortune with video workout tapes. The two words thin and toned started to be put together with regularity.

LOVE the legwarmers. Jane Fonda 1980s

LOVE the legwarmers. Jane Fonda 1980s

Olivia Newton John Get's Physical, 1980s

Olivia Newton John Get's Physical, 1980s

And then there was 1992. An explosion happened: Terminator 2 and Linda Hamilton. Linda trained for the role as a Commando Mom with heavy weight training. You can pretty much single-handedly credit the entire modern Hollywood fitness industry to Linda. When I heard about how she looked I had to see the movie. Not for the plot or special effects, I needed to see those arms! This decade has brought a combination of the previous decades. We’ve had moments of really toned arms (Drew Barrymore’s Charlie’s Angels), the waif look comes through every once in a while (Gwyneth Paltrow) and we’ve had the sleek, svelte look from the 1960s too (Charlize Theron). What is clear is that celebrity arms will continue to change as our society does. We might get more toned, we might get more sleek and there will be lots of celebrity trainers there to give us fitness tips and help us get there.

Linda Hamilton shows off those fabulous arms. 1990s

Linda Hamilton shows off those fabulous arms. 1990s

Looking sleek in the 2000s, Charlize Theron does '60s redux

Looking sleek in the 2000s, Charlize Theron does '60s redux

Charlies Angels show off their bodies a la 2000s. Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu

Charlies Angels show off their bodies a la 2000s. Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu

Gwyneth Paltrow exudes a '70s vibe for this recent photo

Gwyneth Paltrow exudes a '70s vibe for this recent photo

I’d love to know your thoughts. This is one of my favorite posts to date! I hope you enjoyed it. Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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8 Responses to Celebrity Arms

  1. Edith August 17, 2009 at 1:14 pm #

    Oh I love this! Fantastic photos. Great read!

  2. Joe Williams August 17, 2009 at 11:51 pm #

    Great trip through recent history and memory lane, Lisa. (The Farrah poster was one of my favorites growing up, hanging on the back of my bedroom door.) It is interesting how body types have changed with time. Thanks for the great post.

  3. Bridget M. Riley, R.E.. August 19, 2009 at 10:43 pm #

    Loved the reference to the “porcelain skin” ideal of the early years. Also, love the Marily photo…I have that poster somewhere! Great, great article!!!

  4. ms baby August 27, 2009 at 12:47 pm #

    Marilyn had a very large rib cage..or is it the tiny waist that makes it seem so?

  5. Jennifer August 30, 2009 at 11:55 pm #

    Thanks for the trip through the ages. I am always intrigued by how womens’ bodies in the media are portrayed over time. Funny how Hollywood has such power to set a standard, if we let it.

  6. Marialexandra September 12, 2009 at 6:39 pm #

    Lisa, I loved this post. I have always had a thing for making sure my arms looked nice, not too muscular, not too thin, just nicely toned. I had never thought of the history behind what makes us, consciously or unconsciously aim for a “look” with our arms.
    Thanks for sharing!

  7. Laura August 3, 2010 at 7:55 am #

    Great post! I love seeing the historical perspective on how the body has been presented throughout the years. I wonder if most women follow the trends closely, or if they go with what was considered the most beautiful when they “came of age”? I have more of a waif look naturally, but becoming an adult in the 80s, I try to keep my body and especially my arms toned.

    And what about abs, legs and buttocks throughout the years?

  8. Lisa Johnson August 3, 2010 at 9:39 am #

    Hi Laura,

    I keep thinking I’ll do a follow up post for legs and bum. The Latin influence of J Lo and others, etc. This was a very fun post for me to do! Glad you liked it.

    L–

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