Why Beauty Standards Are the Way They Are Today

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Women are supposed to wear makeup in their everyday lives, work out at the gym, remain slim with curves in the right places, and be young, probably, the beauty standards of today suggest. What makes us different from the past today, however, is that we can still display our individuality, as society has become more egalitarian. Many of these phenomena are informed by the history and technological advances that we will be telling you about.

1. TV and cinema changed how makeup was used.

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The 1950s saw the use of more cosmetics including lipstick, eyeliner, and blush. This was a time when coloured films became popular, and women started to copy those dramatic faces from the big screen. Some of the most famous have been actresses such as Clara Bow, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe.

Since then, makeup has been an integral part of the lives of so many women. Indeed, by 2020, the global makeup industry is thought to be worth some $640 billion.

2. Our ideal body type is influenced by celebrities.

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An exaggerated hourglass is the ideal body shape today: a thin waist and legs, and a large butt and breasts. The idea of slimmer bodies becoming healthier and more attractive began in the 1950s and 1960s. Beauty icons like Brigitte Bardot, Audrey Hepburn, and Sophia Loren have significantly impacted this ideal body type.

The 1990s supermodel “size 0” look, made popular by Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, and Claudia Schiffer became trendy later on. Still today these trends exist as one ideal body shape that is both slim and curvy.

3. The 1980s gave us fitness fanaticism.

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Women like Jane Fonda have become popular with fitness ever since the 1980s. Today, social media encourages women to become skinny and fit. This translates into muscles toned, butts lifted, and flat stomachs.

It does come with a downside, though, mainly because of today’s social media pressure. Rather than encouraging a healthier lifestyle, a study has shown that it can have a negative effect on the mental health of many women.

4. Photoshop has changed the way we see ourselves.

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Given how perfect our (Photoshopped) idols look, there is a lot of pressure on people today. Today, we have a wide range of makeup and products promising to cover up and remove “blemishes” such as stretch marks, cellulite, and “imperfections” of the skin such as vitiligo and birthmarks.

Because of Photoshop’s invention, the perfect body is increasingly impossible to attain. Photoshop technology has become so advanced over the past 25 years that it is sometimes hard to tell when it’s actually used, creating unrealistic standards for women.

5. Society is becoming more inclusive.

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Today, with icons like Jamie Brewer, Winnie Harlow, and Tess Holliday leading the way, there is much more acceptance of all our body shapes and colours. Especially in fashion, there has been a shift that has models representing brands from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Brands such as Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty have made makeup for many skin tones easy for people to access.

This change was helped by a growing awareness of the need for better representation, especially within the fashion and entertainment world.

Who is your beauty icon of choice? Which era do you think has had the best standards of beauty?

Preview photo credit EAST NEWSANGELA WEISS/AFP/East News