Beauty fads through the ages – Part I

Let’s face it. You need a computer to keep up with all the latest beauty trends. Some last for decades; but others seem to disappear before the next fashion show. Whatever your view may be on the issue, one thing is for sure. Over the years, there have been, and continue to be, big changes in both fashion and in the definition of beauty, particularly as it applies to women. Today, of course, we have plastic surgery and other cosmetic procedures to aid us in looking our best. But this was obviously not always the case, and that presented some challenges for women over the ages. Here are some of the fads and changes that have emerged over the centuries.

  • Early Egyptian times. One of the earliest examples of a fashion statement concerns Cleopatra. The ruler of Egypt from 51 B.C. until 10 B.C. reportedly used a combination of red clay, seaweed, iodine and henna to redden her lips. She is also credited with darkening her eyes, a style that continues today in the form of using eyeliner.

  • Renaissance. Spanning a couple of centuries beginning in the 1400’s, the Renaissance saw the ideal woman as quite a bit more voluptuous than ever before, or since. Full-figured women, beyond what would be considered “curvy” in modern times, were all the rage. As for their skin, pale was considered sexy. Tinting the lips red continued as a beauty statement.

  • Victorian. Big changes as we head on toward the reign of Queen Victoria, which lasted from 1837 until 1901. A major shift occurred in the area of body image. Gone was the overall voluptuous look, and the fad was to have as small a waistline as possible. Stories include those of women who actually suffered broken ribs attempting to cinch their waists. The Victorians also ushered in an era of modesty. Those in the upper classes were expected to use makeup sparingly, and to avoid loud colors, which were considered trashy. Some religious groups also took the position that makeup created the look of the devil.

  • Roaring 20’s. As we entered the twentieth century, the world was awash with changes. By 1920, the Great War had ended, and prosperity seemed to be at hand. For reasons that appear somewhat difficult to identify, the 20’s also brought a time when many women seemed not to want to look like women at all, at least in the (then) traditional sense. This included binding their chests to create a “little boy” look, which was enhanced by wearing girdles. The hair bob and bold makeup were also in, and penciled eyebrows emerged as a new fashion statement.

There’s more to come, but that’s all we have time for today. Next week we’ll take you on a beauty and fashion tour from the mid-20th century up to the new millennium.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.