Big ups to Maria Popova over at Brain Pickings, who stumbled upon the 1942 book, The Sexual Study of the Male and Female Human Body in Color Pictures, and turned the drawings into gifs.
Choice excerpts: “The ideal female body is widest, it will be seen, at the hips. While individual proportions differ greatly, wide shoulders and narrow hips give an effect of lack of femininity.”
“It has been said that the width of a race’s women are an index of its brains, meaning the large-headed babies must have wide-hipped mothers. Among primitive races with small heads, the disproportion is as great as among Americans and Europeans.”
Choice excerpts: “The male body, of which this is a rather idealized type, is built for strength and speed, for violent efforts for a short period.”
“The female body, however is better suited to swimming, being lighter, better protected by its fat and vascular (blood vessel) formation against cold.”
Choice excerpts: “The female body is, therefore, not built for violent efforts, though capable of great endurance and having more resistance to disease.”
“The double curve of the spine, shown here, has been called by artists ‘the line of beauty.’”
Choice excerpt: “Male and female sex organs are, originally, before birth, alike, and differ because of the unequal development, which takes place as a result of little-understood gland activity.”
Hey, 1942, thanks for all that insight!