It's interesting that "thicker" was more pleasing than "thinner" back in the day, but where they really "thick"? Women did more physical activities during the 50's by cleaning house using mostly elbow grease. Housemaids and housecleaning services weren't as popular, plus showers and toilets didn't have self-cleaning products such as we do today. There were no rumba vacuums cleaning the floors while they were watching tv, shopping or working. Self-cleaning kitty litters, I don't think so. Trash compactors for home use weren't available until 1970. Women did all the work by themselves.
You've heard trainers say that every calorie counts, especially when trying to lose weight. Well with all the work 1950's housewives did they burned up to about 1,000 calories a day just cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. On top of all the cleaning these ladies also knew that exercise was an important daily ritual as well. With the average diet being a little under 2,000 calories a day and burning anywhere up to 1,000 calories a day, maybe even more, I'm not sure you can say they were "thick" ladies.
The hourglass shape of a woman then compared to now is quite drastic as illustrated here:
1950's: Perkier breasts, tinnier waist, more thigh gap, shapelier legs
2012: heavier looking breasts, larger waist, thicker thighs, stockier legs.
What was their secret besides being more active during the day. In a word, food. Fast food wasn't nearly as readily available as it is now. Wives home cooked every meal and packed lunches for their children and spouse. Also driving every where wasn't always the option, sometimes walking was the only choice, also riding bikes was a popular past time.
Obviously the media was telling women to not be so skinny. What a flip to be embarrassed about your body weight for being thin instead of 10-15 pounds heavier. Wow! I can't imagine a time like that. To be honest though I really don't think anyone should tell a woman how she should look in order to be deemed "pretty". Sadly too much damage from the media, models, friends, family and being teased in childhood has embedded itself like an incurable disease in women's minds and the way they look at themselves can not easily be undone.
You're beautiful the way you are and if you don't like something about yourself you have all the right to change it however you want. Beauty truly does come from within. A persons heart reveals the beauty.
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30