17 Beauty Standards from the 20th Century That Would Cause Outrage Now

Remember those iconic photos of Hollywood stars with impossibly tiny waists and porcelain complexions? Beauty standards have come a long way since the 20th century.

While some trends, like red lipstick, remain timeless, many beauty ideals of the past would likely raise eyebrows (and social media outrage) today.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane and explore some beauty standards from the 1900s that wouldn’t fly in 2024.

The Body: Shaping Up to Unrealistic Ideals

The 20th century saw a constant shift in body image expectations, but some trends were downright unhealthy:

The Hourglass Figure: For most of the century, the “ideal” female figure was the hourglass – a tiny waist accentuated by full hips and bust. This often unrealistic shape was achieved through restrictive corsetry, which could damage internal organs and limit mobility.

The “Boyish” Figure: In the early 20th century, a more slender, “boyish” figure became popular. Think flappers with short haircuts and straight silhouettes. This trend, while more relaxed than the corseted hourglass, still placed unrealistic pressure on women to be thin.

The Tan Trend: While a healthy tan is still desired by some, the 20th century saw a surge in artificial tanning. From sunlamps to harsh tanning lotions, people went to extremes to achieve a bronzed look, unaware of the long-term health risks like skin cancer.

The Face: Painting On Perfection

Makeup trends of the past often focused on creating a flawless, sometimes artificial, look:

Caked-On Foundation: Heavy foundation was used to create an even, matte complexion. This thick layer of makeup often looked unnatural and could clog pores.

Arched Eyebrows: Thin, highly arched eyebrows were a defining feature for much of the 20th century. This trend involved significant tweezing or even shaving and redrawing the brows with makeup, a painful and time-consuming process.

Rosy Cheeks: Applying rouge (a red powder blush) to create rosy cheeks was a popular way to add color to the face. However, this technique could easily go overboard, resulting in an unnatural, clownish look.

Blue Eye Shadow: Blue eye shadow was a surprising trend, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s. While some shades of blue can complement certain eye colors, the overuse of blue shadow often looked dated and unflattering.

Hair: From Crimped to Permed – Unnatural Textures

Hair trends of the past sometimes prioritized dramatic styles over natural texture:

The Finger Wave: This elaborate hairstyle involved creating S-shaped waves with the fingers and securing them with pins. While elegant, finger waves were incredibly time-consuming and impractical for everyday wear.

The Crimp: Crimping irons became popular in the 1980s, creating a zig-zag texture in the hair. While a subtle crimp could add volume, the over-the-top crimped styles of the era were often seen as dated and unflattering.

The Perm: Perms, both tight and loose, were a staple throughout the 20th century. While perms can add volume and texture, the harsh chemicals used often damaged hair, leaving it dry and brittle.

Bleached Blonde: While blonde hair remains popular, the extreme bleaching techniques of the past often resulted in brassy, damaged hair. Today, stylists use more sophisticated techniques to achieve a variety of blonde shades while minimizing damage.

Celebrating Diversity and Embracing Individuality

Looking back at these trends, it’s clear that beauty standards have become more inclusive and diverse. Here’s why the shift is positive:

Focus on Health: Today, the emphasis is on healthy living and practices that promote overall well-being. A healthy body comes in all shapes and sizes, and unrealistic expectations are fading.

Embracing Individuality: There’s no longer a one-size-fits-all approach to beauty. People are encouraged to embrace their unique features and express themselves through their style.

Celebrating Diversity: Gone are the days of a single ideal of beauty. Today, diverse ethnicities, body types, and gender identities are represented in the beauty world, making it more relatable and inclusive.

Makeup as a Tool: Makeup is now seen as a tool for self-expression, not a mask to hide imperfections. People are free to experiment with different looks and wear makeup that makes them feel confident.

The Beauty Revolution: A Shift Towards Self-Love and Inner Beauty

The shift away from outdated beauty standards isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s a cultural revolution promoting self-love and inner beauty.

Focus on Mental Wellbeing: Today’s definition of beauty goes beyond physical appearance. It acknowledges the importance of mental health and emotional well-being. Feeling good on the inside radiates outward, creating a sense of confidence and inner beauty.

The Body Positive Movement: The body positive movement celebrates all body types and encourages self-acceptance. It challenges unrealistic beauty standards and empowers people to love the skin they’re in.

Skincare Over Makeup: While makeup can be fun, a focus on healthy skincare is key. People are learning to embrace their natural beauty and use skincare routines to enhance their natural glow.

Minimalism and Sustainability: The beauty industry is embracing minimalism and sustainability. Simple, natural makeup routines and eco-friendly products are gaining popularity. People are realizing that beauty doesn’t require a ton of products or harmful chemicals.

The Future of Beauty: Embracing You

So, where are we headed? The future of beauty is bright and diverse:

Customization: Beauty routines will become increasingly personalized, catering to individual needs and preferences. Products and treatments will be tailored to specific skin types, hair textures, and desired looks.

Technology and Innovation: Technology will play a bigger role in the beauty industry. From virtual consultations with stylists to AI-powered skincare recommendations, innovation will continue to shape the future of beauty.

Inner Beauty Shines Through: Ultimately, the future of beauty focuses on self-love and acceptance. It’s about embracing your unique features, cultivating inner peace, and radiating confidence from within.

Remember, true beauty isn’t about conforming to trends; it’s about feeling good in your own skin. By embracing your individuality and prioritizing overall well-being, you can cultivate your own unique kind of beauty that shines brightly inside and out.

Leave a Comment