Evolution of beauty standards
The Evolution of Beauty Standards
Women beauty standards have changed greatly over the last decades. The emphasis on the fertility and health of women has changed to sexuality and fame. Women are expected to be presentable sexual beings, which has made cosmetics and plastic surgery a necessity for many women around the world seeking the beauty approval. Some of the concepts of beauty have persisted since the ancient Greeks period to date while other views and standards of beauty have completely died off. For instance, long hair was an essential beauty ingredient among women for a long time, but the gender equality notion in the twentieth and the twenty-first century have changed the importance of long hair among women (Hall 58). In the twentieth century, women cut their hair short to signify gender equality and to coerce the governments of the world to appreciate the role of women in the economic arena. The standards on body shape and size have also changed constraining the dietary practices of women to fit the new body standards. The current paper discusses the changes and the evolution of woman’s beauty standards from the ancient Greek period to date.
Beauty in the ancient times was associated with health and the ability of the woman to bear and breastfeed the children. Women with big hips and big breast were considered beautiful because it illustrated their fertility and health levels. Most of the artwork presented women as full figured and plump, thus encouraging women to value health and fertility. The comparison between the ancient times and the twenty-first-century view of beauty leaves one wondering what transpired to change the perception of beauty from plump to skinny. One possible explanation is the fact that in the ancient days, the figure of men was more important than that of women. Women were viewed as an imperfect version of men, and as men struggled to meet the required body figure, women struggled to become like men, hence the desire for strength and health (Milani 44). In the twenty-first century, women are allowed to be weak. In fact, ninety percent of men find weak women more attractive than women who exhibit strength in both body and character.
In the fifth century BC, the Romans embraced the Greece idea of beauty, but with more emphasis on women hair. Women with long blond hair were considered youthful and beautiful. As a result, women painted their hair to achieve the blonde look. Additionally, the shape of the face was highly regarded in Rome. People with a symmetrical face were considered beautiful, thus encouraging women to keep long, blonde hair. During this time, the woman body did not receive much attention, but the ability of a woman to give birth and nurture children was highly regarded. Full figured women received more attention and more suitors in comparison to the skinny women at the time. The idea of hair being a part of woman beauty progressed to the middle age, but with little alterations. Only unmarried girls were allowed to keep their hair uncovered to attract suitors. According to Wolf (39), married women were obligated to cover their hair to prevent other men from desiring them. The coloring of the hair changed meaning in this age. According to the clerical ideas of the time, colored hair signified fornication, which forced women to paint their hair black to avoid misconceptions. The use of jewelry was also associated with sin, but by the end of the middle age, a new revolution in the beauty standards encouraged women to wear gold and silver chains as a show of beauty.
In the late middle age, nudity among women was highly allowed. The show of cleavage and woman’s breasts was considered ethical. The period signified the importance of health and fertility as a beauty standard among women. Pale skin was considered a sense of purity while reddened cheeks were signs of violence and sin. The purity of white cheeks is still valued in the current world, but people have a different perception of reddened cheeks. Elizabeth 1 brought back the importance of white cheeks in the beauty standards of women during the Tudor period. Today, white cheeks are still considered beautiful and good taste. The perception and the standards of women’s body size began to change in England during the Tudor period. Women with smaller breasts were considered more beautiful because they could fit in the smaller dresses that kept women tied down (Hall 167). The view of women began to change from fertility and health to sexuality and fame. Women began to appreciate the use of jewelry and great hair styles to exhibit their beauty to the world.
The idea of small sized women spread across the borders and women began seeking medical solutions that could make them more slender and skinny. Cosmetics and plastic surgery became an accessory of beauty among wealthy women who wanted to look prettier in the seventeenth century. The struggles to accept the use of jewelry persisted during this era with the religious groups associating jewelry to sinfulness. In the eighteenth century, hair was the most valuable beauty aspect of the woman. The focus on women’s body size continued to change and during the Victorian era, small sized but well-shaped women were considered more beautiful. The standard of beauty at the time was the hourglass shape, which led to many respiratory illnesses and internal organs constraints among women (Wolf 117). Further, plastic surgery was highly used in the Victorian era to shape the face of women, especially the nose.
In the twentieth century, curves were no longer appreciated as a woman’s beauty standard. Small size became the new standard of beauty, forcing women to starve themselves to fit the desired body size. Most of the beauty perceptions of the Victorian era were carried into the twentieth century and later in the twenty-first century. Haircut became part of beauty standard in the twentieth century as a show of beauty and desire for gender equality. The same standards still linger in the twenty-first century, but with a few changes. Beauty in the twenty-first century is more of an attitude and women of all sizes and shapes are encouraged to feel good about themselves (Milani 59). However, small sized women receive more attention than their plump counterparts do.
The standards of women beauty have changed dramatically throughout history, and the changes are bound to continue as time progresses. Today, the idea of beauty is unrestricted, everything is allowed but with a positive attitude. The twenty-first century has allowed women the liberty of feeling beautiful in their ways without conforming to unnecessary standards. Health, fertility, hair, and body size are all elements of women beauty in the twenty-first century.
Hall, Ronald E. Racism in the 21st century an. New York: Springer, 2008. Print.
Milani, Farzaneh. Words, not Swords Iranian women writers and the freedom of movement. Syracuse, N.Y: Syracuse University Press, 2011. Print.
Wolf, Naomi. The beauty myth: how images of beauty are used against women. London: Vintage Digital, 2015. Print.