Saturday, September 25, 2010

A History of Our Bodies and Beauty

One thing I have been thinking about lately is trends. They come and go, but while a trend is hot, a majority of people (not everyone, but a lot of people) follow whatever is popular- whether it be a clothing style, accessories (silly bandz anyone?), music, a book or author, electronics, etc. Just an FYI- I'm not knocking on following trends, because let's face it, I'm blogging :)

But as I have been thinking about trends, one thing that has really hit home is the way that 'beauty' and our bodies have been subjected to trends over time. For example, in the early 1900's, Victorian women wore corsets (pictured to the left) in order to make their waists appear smaller for the expressed purpose of accentuating their hips and butt, and to give them the illusion of being rounder and fuller. 20 years later, flapper girls were binding their breasts and working to achieve a boyish figure, thin and straight. 30 years later in the 1950's, Marilyn Monroe was THE icon of beauty. It surprises many people that she was a size 16. She had curves, and her body was the ideal.

It is important to note, as an aside, that throughout the shifts in trends with bodies and beauty, most of us women have tried hard to emulate them, no matter how radical the shift. Case in point, only 10 years later, Twiggy, the super skinny model (hence the name Twiggy) was all the rage and people wanted to look just like her! While thinness and weight loss have continued to be trends since that time, the 1980's were a time in which being fit and toned was considered ideal (Jane Fonda anyone?). When the 1990's rolled around, Baywatch Babe Pamela Anderson was a global icon- she was skinny with huge boobs, which became a major trend in the 90's. If you look around now, the majority of these 'looks' or 'ideals' seem to be outdated, meaning they are no longer in style. How do our bodies and beauty go out of style?

One thing that I have been thinking about is the sheer absurdity of our natural bodies (and how we define beauty) as being defined by trends. Surely, fashions change, and how we wear our makeup and clothes, etc, will change. But I think that we must learn to accept our bodies as they are, and celebrate them as they are because otherwise, we will have a relationship with our bodies that forces us to adapt and change with the trends, meaning we are never able to accept ourselves as we are. The only way for us to feel beautiful is to change ourselves. When the trends begin to change, we must change in order to accept and like ourselves and our bodies. That just seems backwards. It doesn't mean that we all don't ever play into the dynamic of trends, but I think that in considering the history of beauty and our bodies, we may see that beauty is something that goes way deeper, and cannot be defined by trends. If the ideal of beauty is changing every 10, 20, 30 years, maybe we should at least consider defining beauty in ways that don't change. It might help us be more confident, it might help us to accept ourselves and consequently, really love who we are! Think about it, and see what you come up with. Would love to hear your thoughts!

**(History/facts taken from

1 comment:

  1. You made some very great points... interesting read