The Illusion of Beauty: Part 2

“Beauty is in the eye of beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye”

The notion of female beauty is a fluid one, subject to rapid shifts depending on culture and who’s running the fashion industry. Beautiful, sexy, healthy: These words all shift with the decades. Yet they greatly influence how we perceive ourselves and how we feel we measure up with others in our society. The obsession with female beauty and the ideal body is not a new concept. Throughout the ages, artists have been attempting to capture the curves, grace and mystique of a woman. Men pursue beautiful woman; women want to be beautiful. But what is beautiful? How has our perception of beauty changed?

From artwork of the Middle Ages, which showed women with hips and breasts and a rounded stomach:

Birth_of_venusrubenesque

To artwork and images of the 1800’s:

Pierre-Auguste_Renoir_-_BaigneuseExotic-Dancers-In-1800s-8

In fact, being “thin” was not a lasting trend that was considered beautiful or fashionable until the 1920’s, when the flapper styles came into vogue. There were exceptions to this rule: Before the Civil War, tuberculosis ravaged the nation; called the ‘wasting disease”, one of the side effects was severe thinness. This look gained popularity for a brief time, until the antebellum era, when voluptuousness was again on the rise. Lillian Russell, a theatre actress who was around 200 lbs, was considered a great beauty. Curves ruled the scene until the Roaring 20’s, when women began to push for more independence. A boyish figure was the look of the decade…

flappers

Until the 30’s and 40’s, when Marilyn Monroe and other actresses brought curves back into the spotlight:

Marilyn

curvy vs skinny 1

Then came Twiggy: A British teenager who was part of London’s “Swinging 60’s”, Twiggy’s ultra-thin, androgynous look changed the fashion industry overnight:

twiggy

The 90’s brought a mixture of body styles, from the curvaciousness of Cindy Crawford, who was once dubbed “too busty” to be a runway model:

cindy crawford

Juxtaposed with the “waif” look of Kate Moss:

kate-moss-calvin-klein-obsession-4

In 2013, where are we with body image? What is it that we’ve determined is the ideal beauty?

To be continued…

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2 Responses to “The Illusion of Beauty: Part 2”

  1. Very interesting post! Thank you for sharing this and pursuing this topic.

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