Beauty Standards: What Are They And How Do They Influence Society?

Beauty canons

Beauty canons set us the ideal aesthetics not only of the body but also of clothing, makeup… In this way they affect people’s lives to a greater or lesser extent.

However, The perfect aesthetic has varied over time and adapted to the characteristics of the society and circumstances that were experienced In this way, different trends have emerged that have influenced people’s appearance, especially that of women.

We must be careful with these established patterns, since they will always appear unattainable and can lead to self-esteem problems or even mental disorders.

In this article We will see what the beauty standards consist of and we will review the beauty ideals of different historical periods.

What do we understand by beauty standards?

Beauty standards are defined as the set of characteristics of the appearance of an object or a person that society perceives and values ​​as beautiful or attractive The physical features considered beautiful or attractive have varied throughout history and are also different according to each culture.

Thus, although we can also value the beauty of objects, it is more common to talk about canons of beauty of individuals, both men and women. This established beauty pattern affects many aspects of our lives and of course our self-esteem, It influences the way we dress, comb our hair, or it can even influence what we eat and how much sport we do

Who do beauty standards affect?

As we have already stated in the previous section, when we refer to beauty standards we normally talk about people’s physical appearance, since they are the ones who are really affected by these assessments of the beauty ideal. Likewise, although currently man is also influenced by how his body should be and the ideal appearance of it, Women have always been the most affected and criticized for their physical appearance

The problem with these patterns or characteristics of beauty is that they are unattainable and that they don’t allow anyone to ever be satisfied, since it can always be improved or perfected. They thus create slaves to these unreal aesthetics.

What are beauty standards?

It is surprising to see how an image imposed by society, which may not be in accordance with our tastes, can impact our self-esteem and mean that we are never satisfied; we enter a vicious circle in which we will always want more beauty influenced by society that also teaches us to never settle and that we can always be better.

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These beauty demands marked by society are a great burden that affect increasingly younger ages, giving greater importance to the physique with respect to any other characteristic We must be careful, because the consequences of these ideals can be very dangerous, even affecting the mental health of the subject.

Evolution of beauty canons in History

Beauty standards are not stable over time, but rather vary depending on the era. The speed with which they have been changing has also been different, and currently we find ourselves with a more accelerated pace of change

Likewise, the way of making the canons known and conveyed to society has also changed. Before it was common to find them represented in paintings or sculptures or described in novels, that is, in art, but currently new technologies allow them to quickly reach everyone, making it easier for everyone to show their image.

1. Prehistoric era

Thanks to different archaeological discoveries such as the famous Venus of Willendorf, a small statue of a woman discovered in Austria and dating from 22,000 to 24,000 years ago, we can deduce that beauty in women was represented with large and round bodies with voluminous breasts and wide hips, characteristics that were linked to fertility and a greater probability of not having complications during childbirth.

2. Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages the ideal of beauty was influenced by the belief in God. With the emergence of the Christian faith, people conceive the creation of the human being at the hands of God, the latter being the one who gives rise to beauty At this time, another type of beauty also begins to be valued, such as inner beauty, the spiritual part of the subject.

In the paintings of this historical period we observe that attractive women were represented with white skin, long blonde hair, small nose and eyes, rosy cheeks, slim body, small breasts and narrow hips Nor was much makeup used, since natural beauty was sought, just as it had been created by God.

Regarding the male sex, The ideal man was represented as virile and with a military physique, prepared for combat ; Thus, athletic and strong men were painted, with broad shoulders and narrow hips, long and thin legs and with developed calves.

3. Renaissance

The Renaissance (15th-16th century), despite showing some differences with the previous era, maintained some characteristics in the beauty style such as white skin, although in this historical period women were shown with slightly more rounded bodies and hips. Also We find differences in the dresses, these being more ostentatious

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Although there is still the influence of religion and the previous era, lightly clothed, naked bodies are beginning to be represented, both in paintings and sculptures; This is the case of Michelangelo’s David or the birth of Venus and Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. It is curious how these authors They begin to consider measurements and proportions typical of mathematics to create an attractive aesthetic

4. Baroque

During the Baroque (XVII-XVIII) the characteristics of the Renaissance were mostly maintained, but a more pompous aesthetic was introduced, in the same way as the decoration at that time, which was more ornate. It was typical to use wigs, corsets and powerful perfume and makeup began to be used more It was common for both men and women to paint a mole.

A notable painter was Peter Paul Rubens, who depicted women in a sensual manner and men with muscular bodies, although in both cases they were not thin bodies but fleshy and curvy.

5. Victorian Era

In the Victorian era (1837-1901) the beauty traits sought by women were white skin with a sickly face, watery and bulging eyes. At this time, men no longer used makeup, and women’s use was also reduced, as it was associated with prostitution and vulgarity.

To achieve the desired appearance, people begin to use creams and natural remedies of dubious effectiveness that could even harm their health, such as drinking vinegar to preserve and further mark the sickly and fragile appearance or putting Belladonna in the eyes, which was a poison they used to keep the eyes red. In reference to hair, it was also common to use oils to keep it shiny and long, and it was normally worn up in curls and braids.

An important figure at this time was the writer Jane Austen, who featured strong, natural-looking women as protagonists of her works. Women appear more liberated not only aesthetically but also in the social sphere, although as we have said they were still slaves to aesthetics, since they decreased makeup, but increased the use of cosmetic products or the use of corsets.

6. 20th century

During the 1920s, corsets lost popularity and women showed a simpler appearance ; It was common to have short hair and straight-waisted clothes. As for makeup, dark tones were used on both the eyes and lips and they maintained a preference for white skin, with straight or drooping eyebrows.

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In the 30s, a more feminine aesthetic is sought, with more marked eyes, cheekbones, more arched and thinner eyebrows, start using eyeliner and she continues to keep her hair short but of a lighter color. Regarding the dresses, these are more fitted, hugging the figure more.

The 40s are marked by the Second World War; In this way, physical appearance loses importance and given the scarcity of raw materials, many women make their own clothes. The eyeliner becomes thicker, as does the lipstick, which aims for a fuller appearance. The hair is usually worn up in waves.

In the 1950s, the exemplary image of women consisted of being a good wife, a good mother capable of keeping the house well organized and clean, always maintaining an impeccable appearance. Also the first “sex symbols” appear, as is the case with Marilyn Monroe at the end of this year. The marked eyeliner remains, although thicker eyebrows were common.

During the 60s, a youthful aesthetic was characteristic, with marked eye makeup, long eyelashes (often false) and soft lips. Hair with volume is promoted (it was also typical to use hairpieces) and long bangs. In terms of fashion, miniskirts and bell-shaped dresses combined with boots were common.

In the 70s there was an expansion of the different fashion trends, with various trends appearing such as rock, punk or hippie. The fight for women’s rights, sexual liberation and a more natural and spiritual conception of beauty begins

In the 80s, the diversification of styles continued, giving rise to more urban tribes, such as heavy metal or new forms of punk. There is beginning to be an influence from the United States, typical of television series, with a very colorful image of both the clothes and the makeup and the hair with a lot of volume using hairspray

During the 90s, aesthetic diversity was maintained, but clothing was sought to be more comfortable, simpler and less flashy. Hair could be worn either down or in a high ponytail and blonde highlights were typical.

7. News

Currently, beauty standards present us with an athletic and slim body that is achieved with good nutrition and physical exercise, that is, with a healthy life. The physically ideal woman is tall, thin and with long legs and a flat stomach, a small waist and large but firm breasts, the typical measurements 90-60-90. If we focus on the face, we are looking for a youthful appearance without wrinkles, large eyes, full lips, small nose, tanned skin and long hair.

As for men, they are also beginning to care more about their appearance, seeking to be muscular, without a belly, giving equal importance to hair and body hair removal.