The power of symbols and iconography of ideals is the trade and tender of all physique work. Ideals are a base currency, and just like currency can be invested towards good, or pay for evil.
Women have definitely found themselves in the latter bracket since the dawn of city-centric civilization. For 5,000 years women have been sent a message that their bodies are just not quite right, and thus are haunted by institutionalized beauty ideals which simultaneously subjugate and undermine women's ability to self-determine ideals within a society.
That is heady stuff. And when you see how there have been so many of these ideals throughout history, you really get a sense of how false the idea of an "ideal beauty image" truly can be.
This nifty little video offers a glimpse of a handful of body ideals over the course of human history. It's hard to tell if the clip isn't actually celebrating the concept of enforced idealism, but regardless of any dubious intent it sure is a fascinating glimpse.