The Venus of Willendorf and other small statuettes carved during the Paleolithic period suggest that heterosexual men actually prefered curvy women. Recent studies indicate this is and has been part of a long-term preference and trend.
In the Stone Age, fat was beautiful because it meant vitality and fertility. The Venus of Willendorf (c. 24,000 BC), a tiny limestone statuette found in a riverbank above the Austrian Danube in 1908, has become one of the most popular objects in world art.
The sac-like breasts, bulging belly, and padded hips conflate woman with her procreative function. She symbolizes health and abundance. But the masked face and withered arms disturbingly show that she has no sight, speech, or reach-no identity as an individual.
As a general rule, large, ample women have preferred status in agrarian or subsistence periods, while a thin, linear silhouette becomes fashionable for women in urban or courtly societies. When food is in short supply, a plump wife advertises a man's wealth and property.
But there were also biological reasons why, when both pregnancy and childbirth could be difficult and dangerous, fleshy women with wide hips were seen as better prospects for motherhood than thin women with narrow hips.
Today we know that body-fat level is connected to fertility: women runners who become too lean may develop amenorrhea, since nature interprets low weight as a sign of famine, insufficient to support pregnancy. With today's media focus on thinness, young women are torn between nature and society: when fat is the enemy, young women are at war with their own fragile, life-creating physiology.
The complete article is an excellent art reference of female body types. More, the article gives some insight of how the ideal body images are reflected in today's media. Survey art history courses contribute a counterbalance with it's chronological sweep. Unfortunately, these courses are losing ground to highly specialized courses in the United States. http://www.karinsanders.com/BodyImageinArtARTICLE.pdf