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Who is Twiggy?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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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.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a PublicPeople researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By ellafarris — On May 28, 2011

What I remember most about Twiggy’s style back in the 1960’s was her little boy haircut. She certainly didn’t look like the average hippie girl I knew.

Twiggy, according to Wikipedia, was first discovered after her hair was colored and cut by a stylist who was just trying out a new crop cut. It was there that a picture of her was discovered and from that point on her modeling career took off.

Even today I don’t see that many models with really short hairstyles like hers was. Most of them have long flowing hair, but I guess that’s part of what set her apart and gave her the well deserved title as the first international model.

By yumdelish — On May 28, 2011

I love fashion and Twiggy is the 60s in my mind. Apart from her style and fashion sense then and now, I just really admire her as a person.

She's done so much good for charities and really found herself since the days when she felt like a clothes horse. My favorite Twiggy quote goes something like "I'm a person now, I was a thing then."

By Valencia — On May 28, 2011

@Potterspop - My mother has Twiggy's biography, which describes her career in a lot of detail. It seems she worked solidly in theater, and had a couple of fairly popular records too.

These days I see her on TV sometimes, as a guest or presenter. I'm also pretty sure she still models sometimes. I think that's great as there's never going to be another model with Twiggy's style.

By Potterspop — On May 28, 2011

I'd like to add something to the Twiggy Wiki, so this article has given me lots of ideas. I didn't realize she quit modelling to be an actress and singer. How successful was she in these new ventures?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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