Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, but it’s also biological and very much a part of our genetic code. Humans and animals alike go to great lengths to look good, attract attention, and mark their individuality. Ranging from decorative tattooing methods to truly painful and permanent body transformations, the lengths people went to throughout history for beauty are pretty alarming today. With trends changing and evolving over the centuries, what once meant “sex appeal” might be more like “mildly terrifying” these days.
Read on to learn about the awesome (and downright horrifying) things people have done over the years in the name of good looks.
Beauty Defined by America Today
For several decades now, Western beauty standards have favored the tall, fit, and flawless. For women, think Victoria’s Secret Angels, and for men, think Magic Mike.
America is a multinational country, though, and the entertainment and advertising industries have become more inclusive of the expansive range of colors, bodies, and people that exist in the world today. A movement of body positivity has seen many plus-size models gracing the pages of magazines. Still, it’s important to keep in mind that a “plus-size model” usually has the same measurements as the average American woman—and sometimes they’re even smaller than the average woman.
American Beauty Back Then …
Beauty ideals in the United States change over time, just like they do anywhere else. Cosmetics weren’t even popular among women until the 1910s, as Hollywood and the film industry began to set standards with its beautifully made up actresses.
It took nearly 40 years for makeup products to become mainstream beauty standards owned by nearly every woman. Sizing standards have changed over the decades, too. In Sears’s 1937 catalog, a size 14 dress had a bust size of 32 inches. In 1967, that same measurement corresponded to a size 8. In 2011, that bust size measured up to be a size 0.
Doing It the French Way
French beauty really leans towards effortlessness and quiet chic. French people, of course, are immersed in their culture, so they might describe it differently. American fashion magazines tend to push a school of thought that French women are the true standard of beauty and style.
Just search Pinterest for “Paris fashion” and check out the results—Paris is renowned as the world capital of fashion, and chic is a French word, after all. French actress Marion Cotillard said it well, “There’s something about the French woman, a sense of freedom that must read and show in the way we dress.”
Extreme Measures for Perfect Feet
Foot binding is a real testament to the old adage that “beauty is pain.” This was practiced in China between the 10th and 19th centuries, though fortunately, the trend has died out. Starting around age five or six, a girl’s toes were broken and her feet were bound up for up to two years as they reached their final forms.
Women with the so-called “lotus feet” were seen as the most desirable, which boded well for marriage prospects, but limited their mobility and social lives. This trend may have lasted for a thousand years, but it has finally come to an end. The last manufacturer of lotus shoes closed down in 1999.
Korean Beauty’s Impact on the World
Korean women are known for their glowing, porcelain complexions. They go to great lengths to ensure that their faces stay bright and their skin stays healthy and blemish free.
Many Koreans eat a specific diet in order to boost collagen production and make for glowing skin. Sun avoidance is also key, and a daily skin care regimen can utilize between 10 and 20 different products. Korean beauty products have set many industry standards in terms of ingredients and methods. The Korean cosmetics market topped nearly $7.6 billion in 2015, seeing a 61% increase in total exports from the previous year alone.
Indian Women and Your Wigs
Indian women are known for their long, thick locks of hair. They use coconut oil and many other natural remedies to increase growth and overall hair health.
This hair is so coveted that Hindu temples export literal tons of hair each year. For centuries, Hindu pilgrims have donated their hair at holy temples throughout Southern India in order to purify themselves and pay debts to their gods. Most hair used in extensions comes from China, but Indian hair is much more valuable because it has a silkier texture and has never been treated with dyes or chemicals. In most cases, the locks of hair haven’t been subjected to anything harsher than coconut oil and soap.
The Māori people, indigenous to New Zealand, practice a form of facial and body tattooing called Tā moko. This practice marks an important milestone between childhood and adulthood, and it also signals status and rank. In terms of beauty, the body modification also makes a person more attractive to potential partners.
Traditionally, the artwork is done with a chisel instead of a puncturing tool. This leaves the skin with grooves instead of a smooth, pigmented surface. The tattooists were considered exceptionally sacred. In the late 19th century, needles came to replace the chisel tools previously used. This method was quicker and less prone to health risks, but it changed the texture of the artwork.
Brazilian Booty and Beauty
Brazilian beauty for women really finds its center around the bottom half. Thick, muscular legs and hips are ideal, with a big, beautiful butt. Many South American countries are known for their sensuality and confident attitudes towards human sexuality, after all. Think of the famed Brazilian wax, as well as the thong bikini that’s a beachfront staple.
The late anthropologist Gilberto Freyre was one of the top Brazilian minds of the 20th century. Freyre stated in a 1984 article that the butt was a true Brazilian “national preference.” He explained that the rear end obsession dated back to colonization.
Waist Trainers for a Slimmer Stomach
Many women in the U.S. and beyond aim to have a slim and trim stomach and a tiny waist. Aside from diet and exercise, women are buying waist trainer products to achieve the look. Celebrities including Kim and Khloe Kardashian and the cast of MTV’s Teen Mom frequently post photos on their Instagram accounts showing them using the product and recommending it to their followers.
Waist trainers are corsets that fit around the waist to give an hourglass appearance. While it hasn’t been totally proven to help users lose weight, ladies wear them around the house, or while warming up for a workout, or during their entire exercise routine.
Russian Beauty Is Hard Work (Like Everything in Russia)
Russian women and men tend to proudly put extra effort into their appearances. “Women spend a lot of time on beauty rituals and take very good care of themselves,” said Russian supermodel Irina Shayk in an interview with StyleBistro.
As a multinational country, though, there aren’t many fixed standards for Russian beauty. About 160 different ethnic groups live within the Russian Federation’s borders, as Russia has taken in many nations throughout its existence. Despite economic problems and devaluation in the nation’s currency, the ruble, Russia’s beauty sector has proven to be recession-proof. Russia has the largest cosmetics market in Eastern Europe!
Thailand and Skin Bleaching
There’s been an uptick in skin lightening in Thailand for women and men alike, and it’s thought to be the result of Chinese and Korean beauty standards. This trend is not unique to Thailand—the global market for skin lightening products rests in the billions today.
Miss Thailand World 2014 Nonthawan “Maeya” Thongleng bucks this trend, though. She’s got a dark complexion and she’s proud of it. “I wanted to prove that darker skin girls can make it in the Thai beauty world too,” she told the Bangkok Post. “Before the contest, I told my Instagram followers that I wished to represent all the girls who felt insecure about their dark skin.”
Burma and the Long-Necked Women
One beauty ritual with its roots in centuries of tradition surrounds the “long-necked” women in Burma. Women of this Kayan tribe stack brass coils around their neck beginning in early childhood. As more coils are added over the years, the women’s shoulders and upper ribs are tilted forward, creating the illusion of an elongated neck.
This has recently spurred a growth in tourism. The women of the tribe set up shops where they sell goods to visitors, thus generating revenue for their tribes. Critics have described this setup as nothing more than a “human zoo” putting women on display.
Italy—Capitol of Men’s Fashion
Italy is generally renowned as the epicenter and authority on men’s fashion. Its men are comfortable wearing well-tailored suits and clothes, and they are comfortable in a wide range of colors. This includes traditionally feminine colors like pink and purple. Italian men are also comfortable with grooming processes such as eyebrow shaping.
Menswear as an industry is doing quite well, too. Internationally, the global market is projected to reach $33 billion by 2020, up 14% from 2015. That’s good news for Milan, which hosts Fashion Week runway shows every year, where the largest and most influential brands in Italy showcase their new collections.
In Iran, rhinoplasties are the ultimate status symbol and beauty standard. Men and women wear bandages with pride after receiving nose jobs, and Iran has the highest rate of nose surgery per capita in the entire world. Having the procedure completed means that you are well off, and it’s nothing short of a rite of passage. Some people have the surgery completed when they’re as young as 14.
“Walking around Tehran, one will see glamorous women in hijab and expensive glasses, ‘bandages of honor’ prominently displayed across their noses, sometimes long after healing, unafraid of offending the authorities,” wrote Dina Nayeri in a VICE article.
Maasai People and Ear Gauging
Like many groups over the centuries, the Maasai people of southern Kenya and northern Tanzania pierce and stretch their earlobes. Thorns, twigs, and stones are used for the process, and different beaded ornaments are worn in the earlobe, cartilage, and other piercings along the ear.
The Maasai population in Kenya was reported at 841,622 in the 2009 census. The Tanzanian and Kenyan governments have encouraged the Maasai to abandon their semi-nomadic culture, but the people have continued their traditions. Their rich history consists of an epic migration from Ethiopia, countless battles, and near extinction due to drought and the spread of diseases.
Larger Women in Africa
African countries including Mauritania, Ghana, and Nigeria view heavier women as very attractive. Slimmer women are often encouraged to gain weight and may even be encouraged to take appetite-stimulating supplements. An underweight figure is often associated with poverty and even diseases like AIDS. Many women view a full figure as indicative of good health and prosperity.
Fat camps in the area don’t exist to aid in weight loss. Instead, they practice eblouh, an intensive form of force-feeding. Although these people may embrace a fuller figure, obesity rates are climbing in the region. In 2007, the World Health Organization warned that 15% of Ghana’s population was already overweight or obese.
Muslim Culture and Modesty
Muslim culture finds its foundations in the Quran, which instructs all men and women to dress modestly. The hijab, which literally means “curtain” in Arabic, is a tenet of this scripture. Women wear this garment for a multitude of reasons, ranging from personal preference to religious devotion.
There is a wide range of opinions on the hijab, ranging from strict to liberal, and styles and practices vary around the world. While many identify the hijab as a choice for Muslim women, there are still millions of women who are forced to follow this code of conduct through laws and religious norms.
Eyelid surgery is the most popular form of cosmetic surgery in Asia. In this procedure, women seeking to obtain a “doe-eyed” appearance go under the knife to lift their lids and widen their eyes. There are also products such as eyelid glue and tape that make changes to uneven creases. Men do undergo the procedure—a man was actually the first person to have the surgery completed in the United States.
As with most cosmetic procedures, this change comes down to an individual’s personal preferences for their appearance. Sometimes, though, there are medical reasons for the procedure. Some people have the surgery done to correct ptosis, a condition where eyelids drape down and interfere with eyesight.
Voluntary scarification has been practiced among tribes around the world to mark milestones and show messages about identity. Skin tissue is cut or burnt, and the entire process is relatively unpredictable, as skin types and healing processes are all different. It’s not painless, either—as a matter of fact, it’s sacred. In nearly all hunting and gathering cultures, bloodshed summons the gods, as well as good and evil spirits.
Scarification can commemorate milestones like puberty and marriage, as well as communicating information about social, political, and religious roles. It’s been on an upward trend in the United States, Europe, and Australia since the 1980s.
The definition of attractive for American men has evolved over the decades as well. In the 1910s, a well-groomed mustache made a man handsome. This was followed by Hollywood slickness in the 1930s with pomade and a comb. The Elvis pompadour set trends the 1950s, and grown-out hippie hair became a mainstay for men of the 1970s.
The evolution of men’s hairstyles has seemed to repeat itself over the decades. Generally, tight and orderly styles are popular for a while, followed by devil-may-care long and messy hair, ending up in some sort of combination of the two—hello, man buns.
Japan’s Beauty Gadgets
The Japanese get creative with their beauty gadgets. Take the Facial Fitness Pao, which you can see pictured on the right below. Supposedly, it will prevent sagging skin and give a more youthful appearance. You bite down on the mouth piece and hold the weighted bar in your mouth. There’s also a beauty product called the Happy Face Trainer.
You put it in your mouth, and it stretches your mouth into a youthful smile. There’s another fun gadget, the Aqua Future Skin, that cleans clogged pores by using a vibrating metal spatula to steam your skin. And fear not, the nose is not left out by the Japanese. Try the Magic Putti Nose, a gadget that goes in your nose to elongate the tip of your nose, if you’ve always had a hankering for a slimmer nose tip. And there are plenty more.
Trendy Eye Bags?
While most of us in the United States are constantly trying new products or procedures aimed at reducing the tired looking of a puffy under eye bag, in Korea the puffy eyed look as become a desired beauty trend. The under eye skin is referred to as “aegyo sal” which means eye smiles or cute skin.
Korean women have been using various methods to achieve the look including creating a shadow under the eye with makeup or even having plastic surgery and the use of fillers and fat grafting. It is believed that the under eye fat is actually a youthful and desired look.
Straight Hair Obsession
Japan and other cultures including countries like Brazil and Puerto Rico idealize the look of straight silk hair. These cultures have even created different hair treatments to offer semi-permanent hair straightening results including the “Brazilian Blowout” and “Japanese Hair Straightening”. The procedures have both been criticized for using dangerous chemicals in order to achieve the look.
The Brazilian blowout even includes formaldehyde which is extremely dangerous to breathe in especially when it’s sitting on top of your head! Some have experienced adverse health effects from undergoing the procedure. Of course, there is also the tried and true method of repeated hair straightening in order to achieve the same look, although heat damage is also a problem.
Ancient Egypt Beauty Ideals
While all of these beauty standards are from more modern time, beauty has also evolved tremendously over the years and various cultures. Take for instance ancient Egypt. Often, this conjures the image of Cleopatra in one’s mind, and it’s not far off.
Historians have found that according to ancient Egyptian art, youth was the ideal much like it is the rest of the world today. A thin body was also idealized as well as a “golden” complexion. This often seen depicted in various forms of ancient art. It is also known that the women of ancient Egypt used to shave their heads bald and would then wear various wigs.
Ancient Egypt Hair and Makeup
Removal of hair was also probably a hygiene issue and it was used a way to keep ancient Egyptians clean and smelling fresh. Makeup was also used in ancient Egypt and more specifically the use of eyeliner, again as made famous by Cleopatra.
Eyeliner was worn by both men and women and was said to be used for protection against the sun in addition to being a fashionable look. It is also possible that it was considered to be protection from superstition, namely from getting the “evil eye”. The eyeliner was made from different materials including copper ore, antimony, and kohl.
In ancient Greece, there were also certain beauty standards that the entire society revolved around. For men, the “Statue of David” adequately reflects how man were desired to look. It was desirable to have both a chiseled body and full-lipped mouth. There were even beauty contests back in those days called “kallisteia”.
For women, ample bottoms, wide hips, and fair skin were ideals. Sometimes paint, which we now know contained toxic lead, was applied to the skin to increase whiteness. Historians have also uncovered that red hair was a desired trait. Of course, then we have the famed Helen of Troy, if she had been a real person she would have worn kohl rimmed eyes, and had red tattoo red tattoos of suns on her chin and cheeks, and even a shaved head as a young woman. Wow!
The Italian Renaissance also had one of many fluctuating beauty ideals including a very voluptuous appearance. This is reflected in the many different pieces of art from the time period. It was desirable for women to have thick arms, legs, and even stomach. Fair skin and blonde hair were also desired.
As far as facial features go, it was desired for women to have very delicate features including thin eyebrows, well defined nose, small mouth, high forehead, and the often desired large eyes. Curly hair was also a desired trait. Women already began undertaking various cosmetic procedures in order to fit in with the ideal. This including plucking their hairlines for a higher forehead, plucking their eyebrows and darkening them with lead.
Fair Skin Deaths
Women also used alabaster to give them the whitest appearance possible. There was even an old idea of using leeches behind the ears. The idea was that it would drain the blood given a pale appearance. Yikes!
Women also used rouge and kohl as makeup and various bleaching methods to lighten their hair. One woman named Signora Toffana developed a face poweder made from arsenic to achieve pale skin. It was encouraged to wear this look while around their husbands and allegedly caused the death of over six hundred men. Signora Toffana was ultimately blamed and subsequently executed for causing the death of these men.
Victorian England references the period when Queen Victoria was in charge and was a time when morals were very conservative. That being said, again pale skin was viewed as a pinnacle of beauty. This reflected the view that pale skin meant you were “high class” and could therefore marry up.
While makeup and face paint of course existed, it was also primarily used by performers and prostitutes and thus looked down upon by the higher class. Only a bit of rouge and powder were considered socially acceptable. A woman’s body seemed to be even important during this time and achieving the perfect silhouette was a major goal.
Head Size = Waist Size
The popular look was achieved through the use of tightly cinched corsets and bell skirts achieved through petticoats and crinoline. As for hair, women often wore it pinned back with various ringlets cascading down. While doing their hair they also would put puffs under their hair which would give it more volume.
Apparently, the goal was to make their heads appear the same size as their waists! By the 1870’s the curling iron was invented so various styles including ringlets became increasingly popular wear as before women had to sleeping with different curling rags in their to achieve the same look.
The 1920’s was all about that flapper style. Back then it was coveted for women to have a boyish straight up and down look, slim, flat-chested appearance. This era was also known for the rise of the hemline although it was still nothing compared to the mini dress we know today.
Many think the clothes of the era were directly related to a backlash from the previous eras of tightly worn corset into a more comfortable and free dress. Women also began rocking the short hair in a bob style. Eaarings were also popular especially when worn with short hair. Makeup included red lips, mascara, thinly plucked eyebrows, and super white face powder.
The 1940’s was a decade marked by many things, primarily the second World War. As far as women go, pin-ups were the pinnacle of beauty. Women often did their hair in victory roll hair style. Of course, winged liner and a classic red lip were also a trademark of the time. This was also the first time many women worked outside of the home during the war.
Thus, the hairnet or turban were widely used to keep hair out of the way and out of danger while working in factories. Also, the nation was widely rationed because materials were being used for various things during the war. Thus woman took to using vegetable dye as hair dye, beet juice as lip stain and even gravy as a kind of self-tanner.
In the 1950’s glamour returned after the previous decade called for intense rationing. A rule of the time was for women to always look put together and never leave the home without dressing to the nines with a full face of makeup. The hourglass figure was once again coveted, with a “wasp waist” and various undergarments were used to achieve this.
Film stars like Marilyn Monroe were considered the epitome of beauty. While women wanted the perfect hourglass figure they still rarely showed much skin and a typical outfitted consisted of a full skirt and sweater top, yet the looks still managed to show off the figure with a cinched waist.
As for makeup women went for the “doe eye” look which consisted of white shadow, filled in eyebrow, mascara and a dose of heavy eyeliner. A “peaches and cream” complexion was also coveted and the look was finished off with a bright red lipstick. Women also wore their hair relatively short around shoulder length.
They then style it in various curly styles or even bouffant finished with copious amounts of hairspray. Curls were the look of the moment and straight hair was considered undesirable. Some women also began dying their hair various shades and some like Marilyn bleached it out entirely for a true bombshell look.
The 60’s Wild And Free Looks
The 1960’s were an interesting time period both in terms of culture and in terms of beauty. There were far reaching ideals of beauty. Some women clung to the look of the 1950’s while others embraced the hippie look of natural beauty. Still others went for the mod look.
Makeup included heavy black winged liner, with blue or green eyeshadow, the rest of the makeup was relatively neutral to keep the focus on the eyes. For hippie chicks, makeup was often quite bare although women did often adorn themselves with various face paints which was emblematic of the flower power counter culture of the time.
In the 1980’s and early 90’s the female beauty ideal was attributed to the time’s super models. These women were powerful. The most coveted body type was tall and lean but also athletic with strong shoulders. Women and men were definitely not the waifish look of yesteryear.
Women’s fashion of the time also reflected this and if you weren’t born with strong shoulders you could buy them with the insertion of shoulder pads in huge amount of clothing items of the time. Think Cindy Crawford, Iman, Elle MacPherson, and Naomi Campbell. As far as fashion goes, think neon colors, which were often worn in various makeup shades. Hair was permed and made as big as possible with lots and lots of hairspray.
Heroin Chic 90’s
In the mid 1990’s, the rise of supermodel Kate Moss made the look heroin chic look rise to fame. The look was an unhealthy one with super skinny bony waifish figures. Dark circles under the eyes, pale skin, dark red lipstick, and angular bone structure were all desired traits.
This was said to be backlash against the previous decade’s healthy look of models like Cindy Crawford. The androgynous look also became extremely popular at the time. This was also attributed to the grunge style that was popularized by bands like Nirvana and front man Kurt Cobain. Of course, Cobain famously suffered from a heroin addiction. Lots of plaid and greasy hair were also attributed to this look.
American Beauty Now
Thanks to the likes of women like reality star Kim Kardashian an inflated look and plastic surgery are the new norm. Many have criticized this new “look” as completely unachievable. As if the plastic surgery made it hard enough, the rise of photo editing apps like photoshop have also increased tenfold. The look consists of large breasts, a large bottom, flat stomach, and “healthy skin”.
In order to achieve this look women often get various kinds of surgery including the Brazilian butt lift, breast implants, butt implants, fat grafting, and tummy tucks. Some women have even taken to getting “butt shots” from people who are not doctors in a desperate attempt to get the look. The ingredients they inject have included a number of strange ingredients including materials like Fix-A-Flat which was made to fix flat tires. This has led to massive injuries and even deaths.
Another strange current beauty trend is the elusive “thigh gab”. A thigh gap refers to the space between the thighs while a woman is standing straight with her feet together. Again, like many other current beauty standards, the look is often unachievable and is only able for some based on body type and the width of one’s hips.
The craze was first reported on back in 2012 after the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Many have criticized this look for pushing young women and girls to maintain unhealthy diets and exercise routines in order to be skinny enough to get the look.
Artificial Nails Over The Years
Fake nails have been tracked all the way back to the Ming Dynasty of China, where aristocratic women wore and in 19th century Greece wore pistachio shells on their nails. However, it was until 1954 that nails as we know them became to exist after a dentist created the first artificial nail. In modern time nails have gone from square shaped acrylic nails to gel nails.
Nail shape has also evolved and now they are often in the shape of talons with super sharp ends. Nail art is also a constant beauty trend with everything from metallic, to matte nails, to “fishbowl nails”, to having dead spiders inserted. Yikes!
Male Body Over The Years
While the female body definitely face more scrutiny then male bodies, men’s beauty standards have also evolved over the years. One hundred fifty years ago the male body consisted of a wide waist and thick legs, the big stomach was apparently considered a status symbol and was a sign that the men could afford to eat well. The 1930’s desired a look that was more slim yet slightly muscular as many movie stars of the time looked.
In the 1960’s the skinny look was in as it matched the hippie counter culture looked. In the 80’s bodybuilding finally went mainstream and muscles were idealized. The 90’s until today still idealize muscular men today but not quite as bulky, think of Brad Pitt in Fight Club for example! It’s anyone’s guess how men’s looks will continue to evolve but certainly they definitely have less than women do!
Since the media onslaught of the 20th century, women have been constantly been bombarded with what are considered the top beauty ideals that are sometimes out of reach. Women celebrities as far reaching as Marilyn Monroe to Kate Moss still remain slimmer than what the average American figure reflects. One interesting aspect of this is the body mass index or (BMI).
BMI has been criticized in recent years because it does not necessarily reflect health. One might possess a higher BMI yet have more muscle mass than the average person. Or one might be below the average BMI yet still be actively healthy. However, many women are pushed to desire the lower end of the spectrum because of images they seen throughout film, TV, and print advertisements.
The type of lip shape that is desired by women has changed drastically over the years. In the 1920’s women used liner and lipstick to make their lips appear very small with a drastic cupids bow. Since then we have seen a drastic change over the ages until today. Perhaps, Angelina Jolie is responsible for women desiring to have a super full pout.
Young Instagram celebrity Kylie Jenner has also brought another round of full lip desire. She transformed her own lips from barely existent into super full. Now young women everywhere are using a variety of methods to gain their own full lips. From permanent lip implants, to temporary injections, to various glosses with plumping properties, and various lip suctioning devices it certainly looks like full lips are here to stay… for the time being anyway!
Instagram makeup has become a total “look” all on its own. If you peruse the social media site you will find many women cultivate a similar look, that looks quite drastic if you see it in the real world. Many of the makeup techniques have derived from drag makeup.
Some of the makeup techniques include drawn on “faded” eyebrows, overdrawing the lip line with liner, bright, heavy or dark eyeshadow, winged liner, and lots of highlight. Also, don’t forget about the heavy contouring and “baking” which is when one leaves setting powder on their face and then brushes it off to achieve a very angular contoured look. This is one trend we are sure to see fluctuate over time.
Eyebrows are one facial feature that has always been enhanced by makeup since the times of ancient Egypt. From shaving them off completely, to plucking them into super thin lines, to Brooke Shields natural full brow of the 80’s, eyebrows have certainly done a complete 180. One of the current trends is for brows to be “on fleek” a term meaning perfect.
For this look brows are filled in or drawn on completely and then traced with concealer to give a completely symmetrical look. Women have also taken to microblading their eyebrows. Microblading is a procedure that is essentially tattooing the brow on, however instead of a heavy handed tattoo of yesteryear, brows are filled in with strokes meant to look like real eyebrow hairs.
Pre-Teens Then and Now
With the extreme popularity of the Internet and social media kids today seem to be growing up faster than ever. So much so that 7th grade then and now, has pretty much become a meme.
Girls are posting photos of themselves at middle school age from 10 or 20 years ago, where they still look like girls whereas today’s 7th graders are most definitely cultivating a more mature look. While this isn’t the case for all young girls, it is still a pretty scary trend. Hopefully we see a reversal of this in years to come where little girls can still be seen as just kids.
Breast Implants have been around since back in the late 1800’s. Back then, doctors even experimented with paraffin (wax) injections which did not go well! They also used all different types of implants like ivory, glass balls, ox cartilage – all of which had dire results. By the 1960’s doctors invented the first silicon and then saline implants which were precursors to what are used today.
Women today are still getting implants at a high rate with no foreseeable slowing down. Some women have claimed that their breast implants have made them ill with one notable case being Hugh Hefner’s current wife Crystal Harris. Crystal had her implants removed after facing chronic illness because of them.
Derriere augmentation is a much newer idea than the aforementioned breast augmentation. It has gained popularity at an exponential rate after the popularity of stars with big behinds like Kim Kardashian and Nicki Minaj. There are many stars who have been alleged to go under the knife Some women have implants akin to breast implants surgically implanted in their bottoms.
Others opt for injections of their own fat which is liposuctioned out of other areas of the body. While many women try to keep these surgeries private, they claim their new enhanced look is the result of squats. However, it is always possible to spot as squats and other leg workouts will also enhance the quads and the hamstrings, not just the glutes.
Problems With Derriere Enhancement
The popularity of having a large behind as created many problems for women across the globe, and in some cases even caused death. Some women, in a desperate attempt for Kardashian worthy booty, have gone to back alley “doctors”, that is non-medically licensed people for augmentation. The result has been absolutely devastating women have had all kinds of materials inserted into their bodies to dire results.
It has also been found that silicon injections tend to “float” throughout the body depositing into other parts of the body like the ankles and causing other health problems. One such model named Andressa Urach even faced rotting flesh after the chemicals injected adversely affected her system and she was left with giant holes in her thighs. The moral of the story is that if you have this done, make sure it’s by a doctor!
Liposuction is the process of fat removal through a variety ofmethods, which include primarily suctioning techniques as the name indicates. The procedure first rose to prominence in the 1960’s but by the 80’s really gained traction, especially in light of the era’s focus on supermodels and an athletic toned physique.
Liposuction has certainly progressed, and now methods even include the use of lasers. Body contouring is now as prominent as ever with women desiring a small waist, toned arms and legs, but full breast, hips and buttocks. Often fat that has been liposuctioned is deposited into other areas in which women desire fullness.
Korean Plastic Surgery
South Korea is known as a haven for plastic surgery, and many people travel around the world to get work done there. Women and men are known to undergo drastic surgeries that include complete facial reconstruction with jaw shaving, eyelid surgery, and even leg-lengthening procedures.
Some of the transformations are so drastic, it’s hard to believe that is even the same person. In Korea, surgeries are considered to be relatively common and are even an expected part of adulthood. Some people from the United States also travel to Korea to have work down, particularly trans women as they are known for performing facial feminization procedures.
Showering Vs Perfume
Back in the olden days, people didn’t always have the luxury of frequent showers. This was true for even hot locales where people worked outside for a living. Some cultures like ancient Rome and India did have bath houses, where showering and bathing was more of a social event than one about hygiene. Yet people still attempted to smell good.
Often this mean people used A LOT of perfume. Others, like the ancient Egyptians, removed all body hair which certainly aided in the lessening of bad smells. Other cultures used oils and other type of fragrance to try to attempt to mask body odour. However, for anyone who has worked out at a gym we all know how that goes. Thank goodness for modern deodorant!
Hair Down There Trends
Hair scaping of the nether regions as long been a trend. Back in the 1970’s women often sported natural and non-shaved or waxed nether regions. However, with the rise and popularity of pornographic films, women’s grooming habits seemed to shift. In modern time, women sometimes remove all body hair, minimize it, or leave it au natural.
However, if they choose to remove it there are many options in this day and age. Women often opt for Brazilian waxes which leaves no hair or can even leave hair waxed into certain shapes and designs. Women also often opt for permanent hair remove with the use of laser treatments.
Women aren’t the only ones who seek to landscape their hair, with many men now also seeking various grooming procedures. Just take a look at the hilarious scene from the movie 40 Year Old Virgin when Steve Carrell gets waxed for the first time! In addition to chest waxing, men also choose to have their backs waxed as well as their eyebrows, legs, and arms.
Men also often going to barber shops that offer full services including facials and meticulously grooming their facial hair and hairlines. While some men have fought this trend by embracing a very bearded lumberjack look, others still remain steadfastly committed to the super groomed metrosexual look.
Small waists have almost always been an “in” thing. Back before medical advancements and various plastic surgeries, women opted for tightly bound corsets which sometimes even resulted in rib breaking. Yikes. However, nowadays smaller waists can be achieved with liposuction and other body sculpting techniques.
Some surgeons are even said to perform rib removal in order to get that highly coveted tiny waist. “Waist training” has also now jumped out of just burlesque and fetish worlds into the mainstream and has become very popular. Waist training is essentially a modern day corset, meant to bind you down to size. Before the medical advancements that made plastic surgery possible, the closest popular augmentation undertaken for beautification centered around a lady’s waist.
Back in the 1980’s shoulder pads were a super popular outfit must have for men and women alike. Shoulder pads give the illusion of having broader and more sculpted physique. This was popular in the 1980’s because extremely athletic, sculpted bodies, and even bodybuilder physiques were considered en vogue.
They first became popular in the 1930’s but have often been revisited throughout the years. However, they were certainly most prominent back in the 80’s. Then they were considered to be part of the idea of “power dressing” which was meant to signify status and position of whoever was wearing it. This was particularly embraced by women as they began to hold more powerful roles in the corporate world.
Lollipop lips is a trend that recently took off in the makeup world. It consists of lipstick or gloss being purposely smudged out around the mouth to emulate looking like the wearer just ate a lollipop. In our humble opinion, it looks more like the mouth of a child who messily ate a popsicle.
Many people have criticized the looking saying it looks like either a mouth infection or that they were messily kissing someone with lipstick on. Others defend the look saying that makeup should be looked at as art. The look has also probably derived from an originally Korean makeup trend of ombre lips.
During the 1970’s disco beauty was all the rage. This consisted of big hair, metallic and glittery makeup and lots of it! During this time period women were also often very thing, especially in the disco world. This was probably due to club life, such as Studio 54, and the rampant use of drugs like cocaine.
Women also took nods from other eras, particularly the 1940’s. The super thin eyebrow was once again thought to be in style during the 70’s as well as a strong red lip. This was a time when women continued to push against the grain in fashion and became more risqué with their choices than ever before!
The Gibson Girl originates from a drawing by illustrator Charles Dana Gibson. It essentially synthesized the ideal American beauty standards during the early 1900’s. The focus was primarily on the body but also dealt somewhat with the style of a woman. The ideal look was to be slender and tall but also voluptuous. Namely with a large bust and wide hips … does this look sound familiar?
This was primarily achieved through the use of corseting. Eventually a real life version of the Gibson Girl was named – Evelyn Nesbit. Evelyn was considered by some to be the world’s first true supermodel. We think Evelyn’s body type would be a hit in today’s modern society. Don’t you think?!
The show Baywatch ran from 1989 to 2001, however the shows most popular years were during the 1990’s. While Kate Moss’ heroin chic look was all the rage, another beauty came to light – Pamela Anderson. Pamela served as almost an antithesis to Kate. Pamela had bleached blonde hair, full lips, tan skin, large breast implants, and a healthy toned body.
Interestingly, although they were on the beach the Baywatch cast were always in full makeup, especially Pamela. Off the show she became known for her makeup looks which consisted of smoky eyes, over lined lips, and busty outfits. Women sought to emulate this look and it more than likely gave way to the bombshell look that is in today.
Before Pamela there was another famous blonde – Farrah Fawcett. Back in the 1970’s Farrah was the American golden girl. Farrah was probably most famous for her role as a Charlie’s Angel. Her look quickly became one of the most coveted across the country.
She wore simple makeup, tanned skin, and blonde hair. Her hair in particular became a major trend that makes waves in beauty communities even today. “Farrah hair” consists of feathered hair worn in layers that is style to curl away from the face. It may have been Farrah herself that came up with the look as she allegedly even used to do all her own hair and makeup.
Plus Size Beauty
The idea of plus size models is another beauty look and lifestyle that has fluctuated. Over ten years ago most plus sizes ranged from size 12 and 18. In modern time, the sizes included has even gone down to sizes 6 through 14. If you are looking to by designer fashion, most don’t come in a size over ten or 12. The average American woman now wears a size fourteen so they definitely don’t see themselves represented in the fashion world.
There has been some backlash with various models attempting to break the mold. Some plus size models have even reached a mainstream audience including Ashley Graham, and Robin Lawley who was recently featured in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. There is also the Instagram model Tess Holliday who at 5’3” wears a size 22.
The Barbie doll has long been criticized for setting a completely unrealistic body standard for little girls. If Barbie were a real human being, her outlandish measurements would cause her to fall over. Barbie would be 6 feet tall, weigh somewhere around 100 pounds, not to mention the 39-inch bust, narrow hips and 19-inch waist!
In 2015, Mattel finally listened to the masses and released a new Barbie with different measurements closer to a regular human being. Some women have gone to extreme length to become “Human Barbies”. Their transformations include extreme plastic surgery and it is alleged that many of these women might suffer from body dysmorphic disorder.
Backlash Against Anorexic Models
In the 1990’s models weighed only 8% less than the average American woman, however in modern time models weigh 23% less. Many models have extremely thin physiques and some have a weight that would be considered clinically anorexic.
The public became outraged at the sight of models who clearly looked as though they were starving with sunken eyes, and the clear outline of their rib cages and pelvis. Eventually some countries took it into their own countries that prevented these models from being able to walk the runway, in an effort to get these girls to healthier weights. France, Spain and Israel have all passed legislation in relation to too thin models.
Many models have criticized the industry and gave them the blame for their eating disorders. Models are often encouraged to eat less or stop eating all together in order to get more work. Some designers feel that the skinnier the model the better the clothes will look, kind of like a human hanger. Of course, others have fought against this outlook and prefer to cast real life shapes and sizes to showcase their designs. Once such designer is Christian Siriano.
He recently cast SNL cast member and Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones after she was unable to find someone to dress her for the Ghostbusters premiere. Leslie is notably 6 foot tall and while not overweight she is definitely not an emaciated model. She expressed her frustration with find someone to dress her and Christian responded and put together a beautiful red gown for the star.
Golden Age of Hollywood
The Golden Age of Hollywood was a time when cinema became a massive part of American culture which has continued on into modern time. Movie stars, and particularly female movie stars of the era were extremely glamorous and for the most part adhered to the beauty standards of the time.
Take Marilyn Monroe for instance, she allegedly had various surgeries to adhere closer to the idealized beauty goal of the 1950’s. Rita Hayworth was another star who allegedly underwent surgeries and procedures including painful electrolysis in order to move her hairline back in order to not appear “too ethnic” and look more like the white movie stars of the era.
Fitness has long been trendy with various diets and exercises floating in and out of popularity over the years. In recent time, working out has become even more about achieving a certain aesthetic. While squats and other leg exercises have existed forever, women now engage in them attempt to build a bigger booty without surgery.
Women and men also engage in various dieting activities like counting macros in order to build muscle and burn fat. Some people even get so involved in their respective workout regimens that they turn to competing in their respective fields. How far would you go for the perfect body?
Bikini competitions have always existed as they are very often a typical part of the beauty pageant circuit. Some pageants have even existed over the years with the sole purpose of picking the woman who looks best in a bikini like the Hawaiian Tropic Bikini Contest. However, in modern time bikini competitions are also a subset of bodybuilding.
Bikini is one particular classification of bodybuilding and girls strive for a look that is both tight and toned. They attempt not to get to musucualr although they workout every day and eat in similar ways that competitive bodybuilders do in order to achieve their looks.
Bodybuilding has existed probably since ancient Roman times. However it gained popularity in American with men like Mickey Hargitay and Joe Weider. Bodybuilding caught on soon it was further popularized in the 1980’s by men like Arnold Schwarzenegger who had been a champion in the 1970’s and then crossed over into film.
Bodybuilding has reemerged as trend with men cultivating their aesthetic looks which some achieve through classic bodybuilding while others engage in other popular activities like Crossfit. Check out any social media, especially Instagram, to tons of people documenting their everyday workouts and diet plans. The bodybuilding beauty trend is not likely to budge anytime soon!
The Rachel Haircut
In 1995, Jennifer Aniston was on top of the world with a starring role in the hit sitcom Friends. Her new haircut also soon had a starring role in households across America as women sought to emulate the finely layered hairdo. Women across the world went to their local salons all requesting the same iconic haircut.
Jennifer herself recently said that she detested the haircut because it was very hard to style herself and could only look good with the help of her hair stylist. Jennifer also said that she started to grow it out within eight months but that the hairstyle “just wouldn’t die.”
Another remnant of the past were Britney Spears abs. In the early 2000’s when Britney sought to pump up her sexy image, her amazing abs were often the focal point. The style of the time, extremely low rise jeans and crop tops, were perfectly suited to show off perfectly toned tummies. Of course, girls everywhere hit the deck trying to do a million crunches to get the Britney look.
Later, even Britney herself was criticized for not looking like Britney after she had two kids and a very public breakdown. However, the most recent incarnation of Britney is looking back like her old hit self and her body is better than ever! Surely, there will be another trend of women trying to emulate Brit Brit.
In the 1950’s another kind of beauty hit the mainstream and men everywhere were swooning over them – the Italian beauty! Women like Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida were the gorgeous darker counterpart to the All-American beauty that was popular at the time.
Both women cultivated very sexy images which some might blame for Latina and Italian women later being typecast in film and television in only “sexy roles”. However, whatever the case may be these women certainly made an impact on beauty throughout the ages. Sophia is often cited as one of the top beauty icons of all time.
People have tried to ingest various pills or medicine since the ancient days of Greece. In the 1920s and 1930s anti-obesity pills again emerged as treatments for weight loss. In the early days, these medications were often unsafe and could cause heart palpitations and in some cases even death.
Amphetamines also became popular in the 1930’s which also gave way to a rise in addiction issues. In modern time, there are constantly new pills brought to market both in prescription and over the counter herbal supplements. These too are sometimes deemed unsafe and it’s probably best to stick to the tried and true method of diet and exercise.
Mae West Beauty
Mae West is one of the most iconic beauties of all time. In the 1930’s she shot to fame despite being in her late 30’s. Her bleached blonde hair was said to inspire many including Marilyn Monroe. Mae was also known for her hilarious wit and charm.
She claimed to have never drank and smoke, already knowing it was bad for the skin although there were no public health warnings at the time. She also said she slathered on baby oil, “every day by a man” and that was how she maintained soft skin. One thing is for certain, Mae West broke the mold and allowed women to be brash in a way they never had before.
Jane Fonda Aerobics Beauty
Jane Fonda was the queen of aerobics back in the 1980’s. She put out multiple videos for women to do aerobics workouts in the safety and judgement free zone of their own home. She also definitely aided in the look of the decade which focused on healthy athletic models with super fit bodies.
She also helped to popularize working out for women. Not to mention, Jane helped popularize one whole facet of the fashion of the era. For Jane it was all about neon spandex, leg warmers, sweat bands and scrunchies. Many women emulated the look even if they had no plans to hit the gym.
Victoria’s Secret Models
Victoria’s Secret Models have set themselves apart in cultivating a one of a kind look. Victoria’s Secret has rejected the super skinny model of modern time and instead prefers a more curvaceous model necessary to fill out the company’s lingerie lines.
Although from time to time they come under fire for hiring models without curves for the most the models are certainly curvier than your average runway model. Some have said the 1990’s models like Tyra Banks where more legitimate than the models of today. This is said mostly because it is thought that some models like Kendall Jenner for instance only got the gig because of nepotism.
Hair Over The Years
Hair is one beauty trend that is constantly changing in a multitude of ways. Women in the early 1900’s often had long hair but sometimes gathered on top of their head in loose buns and other hairstyles. In the 1910’s the bob first hit the market and women everywhere were emulating the new hairdo.
In the 1930’s cinema was the standard and women sought to emulate the pin curls and finger waves saw on the biggest stars with short haircuts. Then came the glamorous 40’s with the old-school Hollywood waves like Veronica Lake or Rita Hayworth. In the 50’s women often wore their hair short but also added a bang to the mix a la Audrey Hepburn.
Hair: A Never-ending Beauty Trend
The 60’s marked the return of long hair for some, namely hippies, but also included the pixie cut and the bouffant hairstyle. In the 70’s women’s hair was longer again but also bigger with lots of layers, shags, and fringes. In the 80’s hair got even bigger with perms and hair sprayed hair and big bangs. In the 90’s hair was toned down and not quite as big as the 80’s but still often included lots of layers a la “The Rachel”.
In the 2000’s women went for it all with extreme shag haircuts, revisiting the pixie, various layered cuts, and asymmetrical dos. The 2010’s continued to be a try anything time for hairstyle with some women depending on extensions for extremely long hair, to others wearing it undone waves, while other still wear one side long with the other side shaved. Who knows what’s next!
Glasses have existed for over three centuries so they’ve been around for quite a while. And since people definitely need them to function in society they will likely never go away. From 1910 through 1920 people wore glasses mainly just for function and many were handheld in “opera” style so people could see what they were wearing. From the 1920’s to the 1930’s people wore rounded wire trimmed glasses. Tortoise shell became popular and ray ban aviators were first introduced for the Air Force.
From the 1940’s to the 1950’s came the browline, the cat eye glasses, and the classic Wayfarer which is still around today. In the 60’s we saw the rise of two main groups, the hippies and the mod crowd. The mods wore more angular plastic looks while the hippies wore rounded specs a la John Lennon. In the 80’s and 90’s we saw a lot of chunky trapezoidal shapes as well as plenty of neon colors. Now in modern time has seen a revisit to glasses of yesteryear including oversized wire framed glasses than an 80’s techie would love and classic black frames like Buddy Holly from the 50’s.