Beauty ideals throughout the ages
Women’s History Month brings to light the transformation of women’s beauty over time
From hourglass figures to shoulder pads to extreme thinness, the female ideal has evolved over the course of a century. Often, celebrities, models, and even political figures dictate how women believe they should appear.
Women living at senior living communities across the country can identify with these ideals, many of them adapting their own appearance to reflect these trends over the course of their lives. This year for Women’s History Month, look back through the beauty ideals from the early 1900s to today.
In the early 1900s, women were celebrated to the highest degree for curves and maintaining a healthy weight. Today, however, women with more meat on their bones would feel negatively about it. The curvaceous and soft lines of women in the early 1900s represented the true, honest beauty of the female body. It was not until 1910 that women started wearing corsets to have a slim waist and hourglass figure.
In 1920, the female ideal changed from previous years. No longer would they wear uncomfortable and constricting corsets and instead, began to wear looser fitting clothing with a boyish feel. Hair was cut short to represent the freedom of expression in the roaring twenties. And women with boyish figures were celebrated as the beauty ideal for the first time.
1930s to 1950s
During the 1930s and 1950s, known as the Golden Age of Hollywood, the Hays Code was in effect, establishing moral parameters around what could or could not be said or shown in film. The code limited the types of roles available to women, creating an idealized version of women that began to spread around the world. Movie stars at the time flaunted curvy bodies with slim waists, like Marilyn Monroe.
During the Flashdance years, women wore high-cut swimwear, often accentuating their legs. Supermodels like Cindy Crawford became the living example of the ideal body of the era: tall, slim, athletic, and sexy. Women were also prone to wearing shoulder pads to emphasize the new power that some had progressed to in their careers.
The 90s were all about being healthy. With toned, muscled, and slender bodies as the ideal female shape, women started to believe exercise was an important aspect to their daily lives, which gave women the ability to workout alongside men in the gym and take sports seriously!
2000s and today
Women today are bombarded with myriad beauty ideals: women should be skinny and healthy, or they should have curvy features, but a slim waist. To achieve this, women more frequently turn to plastic surgery, fad diets, and other extreme body altering trends.
Do standards of beauty stand the test of time?
Ultimately, beauty ideals and fashion will continue to evolve and transform over time. Like they have for the past 100 years, women will also continue to adapt to these ideals. As women pursue the “thin” ideal, they are increasingly likely to become more dissatisfied with their appearance. In contrast, positive relationships and acceptance from friends are associated with a healthy self-image, which is the exact beauty ideal that should be strived for during Women’s History Month and throughout the year.
Holiday Retirement honors women everywhere, and is especially proud to have so many truly beautiful women in our senior living communities. Visit holidaytouch.com/women to learn more.