What is beauty?

Today my husband sparked a good thought in my head, what IS beauty? Every culture sees beauty differently, and all have their own routines. Here in America, reality shows like Jersey Shore have sparked a totally different kind of how America sees beauty. Whether you play in to the Jersey trend and see orange spray tans, fake nails, and public displays of drunkness as beauty, that’s totally up to you.

The thought of what beauty is has widely changed from decade to decade here in ‘Murica. So, I headed to the good ‘ol Google and started searching, what has been considered beauty through the decades?!? There is no doubt that beauty trends change with each passing decade. Women’s hairstyles, make-up, accessories, and clothing get updated as the years go by. Many people even feel that fashion and beauty trends define a decade.

18th Century
In the early part of the 18th century, society women had trim, crimped or curled heads, powdered and decorated with garlands or bows. By the 1770s, wigs built over horsehair pads or wire cages and powdered with starch were all the rage. Some extended three feet in the air and had springs to adjust the height. They were extravagantly adorned with feathers, ribbons, jewels, and even ships.So, needless to say, in the 18th Century beauty was a big blingy wig!

Victorian Era
The Victorian era advocated a modest, natural beauty, restrained and without makeup. The middle and upper class women used cosmetics less. Beyond face powders, more audacious colored makeup was reserved for prostitutes and actresses, who wore it only on stage. Society placed great emphasis on hygiene and health, and many women’s magazines warned against the toxic qualities of lead-based industrial cosmetics. Beginning in the 1840s, women’s heads were sleek and demure, the hair oiled and smoothed down over the temples with long sausage curls at the side and later with a heavy knot of curls or braids in the back.

During the “Roaring Twenties,” societal trends reacted against the Victorian standards of beauty. Popular new short “bobbed,” waved or shingled hairstyles symbolized the growing freedom of women.The impact of movies was felt for the first time, as women increasingly took their beauty cues from the stars. The heavy use of makeup returned to fashion in this era. Generally, white women applied pale powder and cream rouge circles to the cheeks, plucked their eyebrows and penciled in thin arches, and painted their lips very red, emphasizing the “cupid’s bow” of the upper lip.

Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Hollywood starlets continued to set the trends in women’s fashion. Longer, more feminine hairstyles became popular again. The hairstyle that most symbolized the era, however, was parted on the side, with soft curls falling over the shoulder. Also, for the first time, tanned skin (for both men and women) began to be perceived as a symbol of high class — again showing the influence of screen stars on standards of beauty

Many women spent an inordinate amount of time living up to the ’50s ideal of beauty. The “doe eye,” created with shadow on the lids, eyebrow pencil, mascara and heavy eyeliner; along with a pale complexion and intensely colored lips, became fashionable. Women’s hair suffered even greater abuse. It was teased, styled, sculpted and sprayed at the salon every week into a helmet of perfectly formed curls, waves and bouffants. Women wore frosted light pink lipstick, and wore poodle skirts. Common accessories included stockings, hats, scarves, and gloves.

In the 1960s women were once again moving out of the domestic sphere and into the workplace, pursuing careers as well as an education. As a result, in the early to mid-1960s women reacted against the time-consuming, complex hairstyles of the ’50s and opted for more practical short styles (often variations of the 1920s bob), or long, straight hair. There was only one makeup look throughout the 1960s: dark eyes paired with pale lips (or, by the late ’60s, no makeup at all). Accessories included beaded or flowery necklaces, bracelets, and headbands.

The 1970s disco era welcomed a more flashy way of dressing. Sequined mini dresses, mini skirts, and hot pants, paired with platform shoes became fashionable. Halter necks and crop tops were favored by women. Feathered hair and afros were popular hairstyles. In fact, hair became the symbol of the era in more ways than one, evolving into perhaps the most powerful means of projecting an image or making a statement. For most of the decade, men and women of all ethnicities wore their hair long, natural and above all free.Toward the end of the decade the punk movement arose in opposition to the hippie-influenced values of the era. Punks created a deliberately shocking, provocative look that included spiked hairdos dyed bright fluorescent colors, shaved and tattooed scalps, facial piercings and spectacular makeup.

As the disco era changed into the eclectic 80s, beauty trends again changed drastically. Peoplebegan to put more stock into brand names, and further emulated popular culture. Young women and teens strived to mirror Madonna’s Like a Virgin look, while young men adopted styles similar to those seen in the popular TV show Miami Vice. As the decade wore on, neon colors and perms became popular. The days of minimal make-up were gone, as women wore eyeshadow, blush, and lipstick in bright shades.
In the 1980s the “age of excess” was easily translated into hairstyles, in general — the bigger, the better. Michael Jackson sported the “jheri curl,” a sparkling wet-looking, heavily processed version of the Afro. Middle class white teen-age boys adapted the punk-influenced spiked hairstyle, which sometimes included a small braid at the back of the neck (the “rat tail”). Unisex styles also made a stunning impact in the ’80s, from Sinead O’Connor’s shaved head to heavy metal “hair bands” with their makeup and explosion of long, dyed hair. In opposition to these trends, a conservative “preppy” look was also in, popularizing traditional short hairstyles for men and women.

The bubbly fashion of the 80s turned in the early 90s as the grunge era took off. Flannel shirts, blue jeans, and leather became popular clothing choices while body piercings became popular accessories. Women got belly button rings, while both men and women got facial piercings such as tongue, eyebrow, and lip rings. Plastic surgery procedures that could permanently alter a person’s appearance also became more common among the masses in the 1990s.
Standards of beauty were incredibly diverse and constantly changing. Model Kate Moss created a disturbing standard of extreme thinness, sometimes referred to as “heroin chic” from the strung-out, emaciated appearance of the face and body. The “grunge” movement in rock music popularized an unkempt, natural style in opposition to the heavily artificial looks of the ’80s. Long, matted and unstyled hair characterized the grunge look. Tongue, eyebrow and nose piercings (for both men and women) also came into vogue in the ’90s and even crossed into the “mainstream” of youth culture. Michael Jordan made shaving the head a popular “hairstyle” for men of all races. Jennifer Aniston of the sitcom Friends created a brief hairstyle fad with her modern version of the ’60s shag. The “Rachel” cut was sleeker, with longer layers and face-framing highlights.

Fashion in the 2000s largely recycled trends from previous decades. We brought back the poofy dresses from the 50s, the flattened hair from the 60s, miniskirts from the 70s, leggings from the 80s, and the edginess of the 90s. Plastic surgery procedures also exploded during the 2000s, with public acceptance of cosmetic surgery reaching an all time high.

So, I guess this entire article proves nothing more than beauty is confidence. Beauty is what you see beauty as, and doesn’t steady from person to person. Being a 20 something in the days of the 2000s, I can officially say, I don’t see certain styles. Trends come and go, but it seems today everyone has their own niche on what they like. Beauty is how you see yourself. Remind yourself all day:






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