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Where the Ultra-Slender Look Came From

For several decades, a common fashion focus has been on women’s clothing that accents an ultra-slender figure or even a lack of figure. Naturally, most women don’t have a shape that comes close to that, but it has been a fashion statement that has been hanging around in the US and the UK for some time. Where did it get so much traction?

It really got its start with a woman named Lesley Hornby. Lesley was born on September 19, 1949, in Neasden, Middlesex, England. In 1965 at age 16, Lesley became a model and quickly a supermodel, one of the first in the world. She was short for a model, at only five foot six inches. However, she had a great personality, large eyes, lots of energy, and something that set her apart from most other models; her figure. Many women have stated that it was her lack of figure, but it works out either way.

You see, Lesley weighed only 112 pounds and had measurements of 31-23-32. She was incredibly thin, while still being healthy. Her modeling career was a success, putting it mildly, and it catapulted the ultra-slender look for women, though few women are anywhere close to being that naturally skinny.

For decades, women have complained about it, yet so many women have tried to emulate her that the ultra-slender look is still fashionable today. Lesley also brought into style a new haircut that was short cropped and seemed to highlight her face.

Lesley Hornby, later becoming Lesley Witney and then Lesley Lawson after her first husband died of a heart attack and she remarried, still lives in London, England with her husband. She started a fashion craze and is best known by a nickname she was given as a child. That nickname is actually due to her figure, too. Lesley, who gave the world the ultra-slender look, was usually just known as Twiggy.


What do you think?

11 Points

Written by Rex Trulove


  1. Have not thought of Twiggy in so long. This is amazing to read. I never thought any perfect model should be so slender. That is not how it should be but sadly it seems to be in many minds.

    • The trap is one any one body form is thought of as ideal. There isn’t such a thing. People come in all shapes and sizes, which is really what normal is. For a time, we had a neighbor who was built very much like Twiggy, but that isn’t a common body type. I’m also thinking that there could be difficulties if she ever decides to have children. Such narrow hips and pelvis would my childbirth difficult, I’d think.

        • Man, I really made a lot of typos on that last response. I have a feeling that I wasn’t entirely awake, and of course, I didn’t proof-read as I normally do. I’m on my fourth quart of coffee now, thankfully.

  2. Hopefully women like Ashley Graham are changing the anorexic fat shaming excesses of the fashion industry. Majority of American adult women are a size 12 or larger, but industry pushes and promotes a standard that leaves millions of women feeling bad about themselves. Real women have curves.

      • Alexis Wineman looked healthy and gorgeous as Miss Montana. Twiggy looked emaciated and contributed to the cultural mindset that led to the death of pop superstar Karen Carpenter and others in her generation.

        • The funny part is that Twiggy was actually healthy (and last I heard, still is). With a 31-23-32 body, she just didn’t have a figure. More appropriately, she had a beanpole figure. Karen’s biggest problem, according to Richard, came when a critic criticized her outfit, saying that it made her look fat. The comment was about the outfit, not Karen, but she took it personally. Anorexia is a disease that is hard to fight once it becomes established and though most of us might consider the comment as trivial, it was the trigger that started her down that path.

    • I remember her well. Women basically fell into two groups; those who hated Twiggy and everything she did and those who tried to be like her. There were surprisingly few women who were in the middle and who didn’t care, either way. Before then, the ideal was for women to be ‘pleasingly plump’ and/or big breasted. That is still preferred in some European countries. In the 1960’s, most women hadn’t yet learned to simply be themselves, physically.

    • At the time, she was quite healthy. It was simply the way her body was built. The biggest part that was unhealthy was that she was constantly on the go and seldom took the time to rest. That is common with supermodels, but now they have managers who make sure that they have at least some rest time.

  3. For sure I remember Twiggy. She set the “model standard”. But nobody followed it. As you stated: “She was incredibly thin, while still being healthy.” Almost everyone who tried to model themselves after her forfeited their health. But they were skinny! I mean … ultra-slender. Practically emaciated.

    • Unfortunately, more than a few women became anorexic when they tried to get a twiggy figure. Back in those days, people didn’t know what anorexia was or even that it was a real disease. I still love the music of the Carpenters, and unfortunately, Karen Carpenters is a prime example of a woman who died from anorexia.