Changes in Beauty

Topics: Beauty, 21st century, Physical Appearance Pages: 6 (2123 words) Published: July 26, 2013
The 21st century has redefined the definition of physical beauty, particularly for women.  The digital media's main focus for women is external beauty. The fashion, cosmetics, diet, and plastic surgery industries have thrived by using the digital media as a pathway to foster preoccupations with physical appearance in young women. New definitions of human physical beauty have been constructed in terms of outward appearance and sexual attractiveness that are much different from the past. In Beauty In History, Arthur Marwick describes human physical beauty as: "The beautiful are those who are immediately exciting to almost all the opposite sex.” The average type of beauty is no longer being appreciated, and people are not considering internal beauty or other traits, like intelligence or unique talents. These are interesting changes spurred by the digital media's prevalence in today's society.

To understand the dramatic changes of the beauty perceptions, we must examine the history of beauty before the introduction and dissemination of digital media. Back in 1910s, the “Gibson Girl” was considered to be the ideal of femininity. Femininity was in considered to be childlike, almost virginal. By the second decade of the 20th century, fashion placed more important on 'natural endowment' and feminine elements than in any preceding centuries. Cosmetics were worn to conceal natural flaws accentuate assets. Skirts became shorter to flatter the legs and waistlines were lowered flatter the hips. Flatteners were worn to minimize disproportional bust sizes.  1930s fashion favored tall women with wide shoulders and narrow hips. Hemlines dropped and waistlines returned to their previous position.  The 1950s invented the new and separated teenage style comprised of tight sweaters, pointed bras, and circle skirts. There was a new emphasis on conformity, flaw concealment, and self-presentation, particularly for Black women, as they were encourage to look like White women by straightening their hair and lightening their skin. This was the first time in history where digital media had any prevalence in beauty. major movie stars in the 50s were considered to be beauty icons who portrayed ideal beauty, like Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, and Kim Novak. This was the time where curves and a feminine silhouette were strived for and appreciated . This decade had turned the table around, bringing forward and embracing woman sexuality.

At this time, there was an important twist in the history of beauty. Beauty was viewed as a “status of characteristic” on an equal footing with wealth and social position. This ideal had carried though over 50 years into the 21st century ideals on beauty. Body images representing beauty stayed very much in the same mindset up until the 1990s. The old standard of beauty, still embodied by Marilyn Monroe, changed considerably to focus of a fascination with underweight models and junkie chick, famously represented by Kate Moss.

The 1990s and later is defined by the use of the new and improved, contemporary digital media. Movies, television, and the internet were industries constantly improving and moving to become an integrated part of American society, which particularly happened in the 21st century. The predominant feature of beauty in the 20th century is the constant importance of outward appearances in many women’s lives, as shown in digital media. There have been many different changes since the beginning of the century, and yet, fashion although makes small changes, has stayed pretty stagnant in the thin ideal of beauty. The trend that started in the 1990's has continues to grow, if not in a more extreme sense. If we look deeply into these beauty definitions, at the beginning of the 20th century, beauty was a living style, a sense of fashion, and personality. Beauty was measured by purity, integrity, harmony, and perfection. However, nowadays, society has a much different perspective. Physical appearance...
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