10 Eras Of Beauty: How Our Perception Of Beauty Has Changed Over Time
Did you know that just because you are a beautiful blonde size 2 today does not mean that you would be considered beautiful in times past? Much like fashion trends, the perception of beauty has consistently changed over the course of centuries, sometimes for the better, and unfortunately, sometimes for the worse. One thing, however, that will never change is the fact that we will all strive to fit in with what is considered attractive as this is part of human nature.
The art of fitting in has changed drastically from one decade to the next. Don’t believe us? Think back to a time when MC Hammer pants and mullets were all the rage. Trends change for a variety of reasons, most of which leave us looking back at our former selves with laughter. What exactly were we thinking with that floral pantsuit or sequined leotard?
Changes in beauty can be dramatic over time. How has the perception of beauty changed over the past 60 years? How has it changed over the past 600 years? Thanks to a lack of art to depict people’s fashion and features, there is little known about fashion prior to the Renaissance Era. However, we do know what has happened with trends ever since. Here’s a look at 10 ways our perception of beauty has changed over time starting with an era where plump was en vogue.
#10 – The Renaissance Era
The Renaissance Era lasted from the 1400′s well into the 1500′s and was a time in which people had a different view on beauty than most of the eras that followed it, especially in terms of the ideal body type. According to much of the artwork of the era, women that had extra fat and wider hips were considered to be the most beautiful. In most of these paintings from the era, fuller figured women were shown in settings where they were courted by dashing and handsome men.
Blonde hair also became a big trend during the Renaissance, as colors started to move away from darker hues, making lighter and brighter colors all the rage. Makeup during this era was extremely pale, but lips were meant to be bright red. Clothing was not very popular, at least according to the paintings of the time. Large dresses were trendy for those who did opt for fashionable clothes, and typically featured oversized shoulders and sleeves that looked like small puffy balloons.
#9 – The Victorian Era
The Victorian Era, between the mid 1800’s and the rest of the century, saw a complete reversal from the beauty standards of the Renaissance in terms of body types. In the Victorian Era, slim waists were all the rage, to the point where it became a danger. It was a contest to have the smallest waistline, with clothing that could help women reduce their waist down to 12 inches. The clothes were constricting to the point where breathing was a chore, causing some women to even break their ribs in the process.
In addition to small waists, women also wanted to make their behinds look larger than ever before, which was better accentuated by such small waists. Petticoats and bustles became popular, which made for an enhanced look in the rear. Colors were not as bright as they were in the Renaissance Era either, calling for bolder and darker colors. These trends in style went completely against the religious views at the time, which was said to be a work of evil.
#8 – The Roaring Twenties
The Roaring Twenties came after the end of the First World War, and started a brand new trend in beauty that was a welcome change from the Victorian Era in terms of comfort. Women no longer had to have tiny waists and large posteriors to fit in anymore, as concealing womanly curves was more common. Short dresses in the flapper style were a lot more comfortable (and popular) than the long dresses from the Victorian Era.
Corsets were still popular, but were far from being as lethal as they were elastic with an extra give that was far from dangerous as it was used to conceal any bumps around the waist. The other big beauty trend was the bob hairstyle, which was combined with pale skin and thin eyebrows to achieve the perfect look at the time. Before the 1920’s, makeup styles were seen as low class, but everything changed during the Prohibition Era when everyone seemingly came together in stylized fashion to find illegal ways to drink together.
#7 – The Golden Age
The Golden Age was named as such for the fact that it was the Golden Age in Hollywood. This era spanned from the end of the Roaring Twenties to the end of the Second World War. The appearance of new celebrities on the screen made women more self-conscious than ever before with a strong desire to look like the stars they saw on the silver screen. Women took to the gym to work on their bodies, making muscles the new trend in body beauty.
Some of the most notable fashion designers of all time came to prominence in this era known for its padded bras to help enhance appearances for a starlet look. As long hair grew more popular, the bobs of the 20’s were grown out without preference to a single color of hair, as there were redhead, brunette and blonde stars. Makeup also became more feminine and didn’t have many layers, as natural beauty was more celebrated in this time.
#6 – Mid-Century
The 1950’s marked the middle of the century, a time where the World Wars were finally over and beauty changed yet again. The ideal body type was no longer a muscular one, but instead one with curves and feminine appeal. A lot of this had to do with the emergence of Marilyn Monroe; who would become the symbol of beauty in the era. Marilyn was the epitome of the hourglass figure which you can still see is popular today.
The ideals of the time were very conservative, so women dressed the part. It was a common belief in society that women should not leave the house without looking perfect from head to toe. Some of the fashion trends included button down sweaters and other long dresses that showed very little flesh. Short hair was back in style, but curly styles were trendier than the bob of the 20’s. The quest for perfect skin made makeup a must-have in the 1950’s.
#5 – The Hippie Era
Perhaps there was no bigger contrast between two consecutive eras than the one that happened between the 1950’s and the 1960’s. Modeling started to become almost as popular as acting in films. Because of the growing popularity, many of the models that we saw at the time were very thin. This thin body type was a popular one for non-hippies who, at the time, preferred to wear knee high boots, short skirts and tunics. For the hippie types, however, things were completely different.
For those who attended Woodstock, the look was completely natural. There was no ‘ideal body type’ for the culture, and makeup was completely ignored. Women did not feel forced to fit into beauty trends of the time, and uniqueness was widely accepted. Sunglasses, headbands, tie-dye shirts and bell bottom jeans were all the rage. As you can see and perhaps experienced firsthand, these were two completely different looks at the time, which is a rare occurrence on the list.
#4 – The Disco Era
For the last 100 years or so, music has had a lot of influence on what the ideal type of beauty is in society. Instead of the hard rocking late 1960’s, popular music shifted over into the Disco scene (albeit for a very brief period). Thin body types were still trendy during the Disco Era, but it was taken to an even farther extreme than we saw in the Hippie Era. Body types in the Disco Era were pronounced with high waist jeans for an even slimmer look and tight wrap dresses.
Perhaps the biggest trend we saw in the 1970’s that is still talked about today is the hairstyle, which was made popular by a poster featuring Farrah Fawcett. Long and blonde was how it started, but feathering was the vital addition that people needed in terms of hairstyles to fit in. One more trend that started in the 1970’s that we still see today is the addition of tanning beds for a look that is much easier than spending hours in the Sun.
#3 – The 80’s
One era that we will always look back on and wonder, “What were we thinking?” is the 1980’s. The 80’s saw the rise in VHS tapes that taught aerobic fitness as it made its way into the living rooms of millions. The body type of the instructors in the videos were ideal at the time. And, even worse, the instructor’s notorious spandex suits somehow became an acceptable outfit to wear in public. Maybe even worse than those outfits were the shoulder pads that made women look like NFL linebackers.
Hairstyles in the 80’s quickly ditched the feathered look and went straight to the hairspray department as bigger hair was an arms race, which is something we are forever glad is well documented in films and pictures. Makeup was also enlarged, as the more colors there were, the better it looked. Big blue eyeliner and bright lipstick made for a weird contrast, but it was ‘in’ at the time. Models also popularized thicker eyebrows, which was a big contrast to previous eras.
#2 – The 90’s
Flashy over the top looks had gone by the wayside by the end of the 1980’s only to be traded in for something that was beyond somber as the grunge era made its way into style. Flannel, lumberjack type looks were popular in parts of the country, while others wanted to look like models of the time. Heroin chic kicked off in the 1990’s, and looking thin hit critical (lack of) mass as looking as though you have been addicted to drugs for years became a trend.
The late 1990’s thankfully saw a shift towards normalcy, as shows like “Friends” helped to introduce new trends that were more conventional and even started the biggest hair trend of the decade, known as the ‘Rachel.’ Even guys became interested in hair trends in the late 1990’s thanks to Eminem and his bleach blonde hair, which other singers adopted to make it even more popular. Now, we can all look back at our yearbook photos from the era and have a nice laugh at ourselves.
#1 – The New Millennium
We can say that the trends of today are completely normal but, to be honest, we are already laughing about what we thought was trendy in the 1990’s and that seems like it was just yesterday. The pressure to look thin is still around and people continue to take it to dangerous measures as plastic surgery has become more common than ever. It still hasn’t been perfected, though, so the results can look terrible if done in the wrong way.
But what is the biggest trend in fashion today? It’s hard to say as everyone has taken a very unique approach to their fashion. Thanks to social media and a way of showing what we dress like, there is no universal way to look or dress. No matter what you want to do to yourself, there is a tutorial you can find online. This means that we are slowly starting to see the death of ‘fashion trends.’ We’ll see what the next decade looks like, but we’re sure it will be different.