Beauty has obsessed humankind throughout centuries and geographies. Though, the beauty standards – mostly feminine ones – we watch every day over the media are, by far, pretty different from those existing many years ago, and even to those in not so far away places.
For instance, during prehistory (40,000 – 5000 BC), feminine beauty consisted on voluminous breasts, belly, and hips, as can be seen in the Venus of Willendorf or the Venus of Laussel. On the contrary, in the Egyptian culture (2955 – 332 BC), beauty lied in proportion. Therefore, women were expected to be slim, with smalls breasts, but wide hips. It’s interesting this was one of the first cultures to worry about ageing, and there’ve been found remains of antiaging lotions and ointments.
Greeks (1146 BC – 146 AD.) and Romans (753 BC – 475 AD) have been our foremost influencers in what refers to canons of beauty. For them, beauty had to reflect symmetry in its proportions; that’s why their sculptures represent women rather robust, with large eyes, sharp nose, and pointy cheeks and chin. The masculine ideal was tall, toned, with wide forehead (a sign of intelligence), a perfect side face, and a powerful jaw.
Greco-Roman standards were revived during the Renaissance (15th – 16th centuries). Take a look at Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, or at Michelangelo’s David, and you’ll get the idea. Later, the Baroque (17th – 18th centuries) was an age of excesses: both men and women wore heavy make-up, elaborated wigs and garments which hid rather chubby bodies.
This, regarding western standards. However, the concept of beauty has not only change through time, but it also varies through geographies. Let’s see.
Beauty in America and Beyond Borders
Even if recent studies on human beauty have proved that, despite historic periods or cultures, humans base their concept of beauty on symmetry, it’s really interesting how it is conceived in other latitudes.
In China, Xishi, Wang Zhaojun, Diaochan, and Yang Yuhuan, better known as the “Chinese Four Beauties”, are still feminine beauty standards. These four women represent, mostly, the moral virtues expected of women, and which have little to do very with their physical appearance.
In France, women use almost no make-up, and they do not spend lots of time in the gym or dieting either. Thailand would the opposite, where some women go through painful and risky procedures just to look more Caucasian .
As for maori women, in New Zealand, their fairest feature is a facial tatoo called ta moko. Some years ago, it was made using bones of birds (nowadays they use machines), and they’re a symbol of their social status within their tribe, besides making them more attractive. And what about the women from the Kayan tribe, in Burma, where they place brass rings on their necks to make them longer.
In America, one need only to take a look at any magazine, or turn the TV on to find out which are the current beauty standards: tall women, slender-but-busty, very small waist, and don’t forget, a perfect derriere. An ideal pretty hard to achieve for most of us.
Fortunately, these standards have been changing, and the concept of beauty is much more inclusive. Today, we can see “real”, healthier, and happier women as role models in the mass media. We all want to be more beautiful, but beauty lies, in great measure, on being satisfied with ourselves. Our objective should be to achieve a healthy ideal, appropriate to our physical constitution and lifestyle. Here in Forma Vital we can help you fulfill your dream, #DecideItNow