Twiggy is an an iconic fashion model, actress, and singer who became famous during the 1960s, when her distinctive look took fashion runways around the world by storm. Many people credit Twiggy with shaping the runway looks of the late 20th century, arguing that she had a huge influence on fashion design and style. Although Twiggy retired from her modeling career only a few years after it began, she left a lasting mark, and turned herself into a well-known public figure who advanced her career while promoting social causes she supported, including the animal rights movement.
Twiggy was born as Leslie Hornby in England in 1949, and by age 16, she was leggy and extremely slender, with pouty lips, large eyes, and pronounced eyelashes. Twiggy's look was undeniably distinctive and fresh, and it is not too surprising that she was quickly spotted and swept up by the fashion industry, becoming the “face of '66” for Britain and beyond. She was, arguably, the first “supermodel,” an elite model with international fame in her own right.
Twiggy's androgynous, lean look marked a radical departure from the full figured women who dominated fashion in the 1950s. Women who looked like her found themselves in hot demand on runways all over the world, and Twiggy exemplified “mod” fashion, leading women all over the world to emulate her look and style. By 1970, Twiggy had decided to retire from modeling, choosing to work exclusively as an actress and singer after making an indelible mark on the fashion industry.
In addition to having a profound and enduring influence on fashion, Twiggy also changed the way that women thought about their bodies. Women in the 1960s and beyond have struggled to achieve bodies as slim and streamlined as Twiggy's, sometimes going to extreme lengths to do so. Twiggy herself, when asked about the rise of eating disorders such as anorexia, has said that she was “naturally thin” in the 1960s, and that her weight has always been healthy and balanced.
She also has stated that she feels unfairly blamed for unrealistic beauty standards, and she is, to some extent, right. It is hardly Twiggy's fault that she became so popular, and that her figure, natural or not, came to exemplify the height of female beauty. While Twiggy may have been the face of thin for the 1960s, the drive for thin figures was propelled by the fashion industry, pop culture, and magazines, not Twiggy herself.