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I have this curiosity for several reasons.History articles says that before the isdustrial revolution most people used to be quite poor and most of the population were peasants. In other words, most people used to work in the agriculture and in manual/physical work like building houses and cleaning things. In antiquity and in the middle ages I believe most women had a more athletic and straight body because of the physical duties and because by that time obesity was quite rare - women's curves come from fat storage in the hips- lean women tend to be straight up and down( I think - you can correct me if I'm wrong).And since puberty on girls used to begin a later age compared to anowadays, I also think that the average woman used to be a taller too.(People say that nowadays women are taller not the opposite).

Scientists say also that women nowadays have bigger breasts due to having more body fat today as well.Since most people in ancient times were thin and probably more muscular, I believe that women in antiquity and in ancient times had a body that were similar to male bodies. In other words the male and female bodies were more similar.I think women had a more straight and athletic body with broader shoulders and backs too with a flatter chest and smaller boobs. I think most women in the past used to be either flat chested or had small breasts - probably at most B cup size.(asian women should have been practically boobless).And I think cellullite was very rare as well.

And also women in past times did as much as manual and physical labour as men. So women in the past should have been more physical strenght too.Maybe as strong or stronger than men.And food used to be more healthy and more natural.

closed as too broad by Giter, JLK, Lars Bosteen, Steve Bird, Jos Jun 4 '18 at 9:08

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    "Before the industrial revolution" is such a broad timeframe that, even if it were possible to calculate a mathematical average, it would surely be a useless statistic. And food used to be more healthy and more natural. People used regularly starve to death.\ – Semaphore Jun 3 '18 at 23:03
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    "I also think that the average woman used to be a taller too". Wrong. Lack of quality food, excessive hard labor plus child bearing have a huge impact on the human body. – Jos Jun 3 '18 at 23:56
  • Are you talking the "idealized form"? That's something we can see by looking at period art. – T.E.D. Jun 4 '18 at 0:25
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    Why would the Industrial Revolution have such a profound effect on women's bodies (but not men's)? – TheHonRose Jun 4 '18 at 3:04
  • Buzzfeed had a short video on the topic a while back. – Denis de Bernardy Jun 4 '18 at 6:06
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I think you mix up what today we would call training or fitness, and manual labour e.g. on a field in former times. Also as pointed out in the comments, the food was not "healthy and natural". Mostly it was one sided and lacking many components you need to build up muscles.

So it can be assumed people were more often thin to underweight.

Their teeth were in contrary to common believe quite good. As the only widespread form of sweetening was (expensive) honey, people had less problems with caries. The teeth were often grinded down so their chewing surface was even, leaving less space for caries bacteria to settle down. Also white teeth were a major ideal of beauty in the middle ages, so it can be assumed people tried to care for them. What may have occurred more often would be missing teeth, as the only known medical treatment was extraction. (https://blog.histofakt.de/?p=939)

Their skin should have been much more wrinkled and darker, as to long exposure to direct sunlight when working on the fields.

Addressing the average breast size we have no direct clue. Paintings only show the ideal of a time, and poor peoples fashion was not designed to fit tight so there is not much evidence in here. What can be suspected is, that women had more children which were breastfed. In poorer homes for an average of two years (https://www.sbg.ac.at/ges/people/janotta/sim/kindheit.html#42). So it is possible that breasts of middle ages lower class women tended to mammary ptosis in earlier years.

Disclaimer: I just took an medieval peasant woman as an example. Other professions in other times may have looked totally different. Also I'm not an expert in that matter - It's only a couple of ideas that seemed logical to me.

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    Unsourced but pretty logical. Upvoted even if that may not be the kind of answer we usually look for on History.SE; I hope someone will be able to complement this with links and references. – Evargalo Jun 4 '18 at 7:40
  • I can look up my basis about breastfeeding, and Teeth, but those sources are in German, and I wasn't sure if it would make sense – Torf Jun 4 '18 at 9:42
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    Better German references than none. Automated translators are good enough to allow someone to get the gist even if the fine details get lost. – Pieter Geerkens Jun 4 '18 at 12:46
  • Bad teeth go with starchy foods, no sweets required! Check any archaeological dig for early farmers vs hunter-gatherer cultures, eg, see "The Horse, the Wheel, and Language". – Peter Diehr Jun 4 '18 at 13:03
  • Sugar is not the only source of food for caries bacteria but a good one. For sure caries was present in those times but not as much as it is today. Taking in account that nearly every person in western civilisation suffers from some form of caries today - putting that to medieval times and thinking that pulling teeth was the only medical treatment - people would all have been nearly toothless by their thirties. – Torf Jun 4 '18 at 18:02

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