Images of a standard of beauty bombard our society on a daily basis, but how do we determine what is considered beautiful? These standards are arbitrary, and often differ greatly from culture to culture and even across time. Let’s examine a few of the most common standards of beauty throughout history and the world today. We can learn from the Greeks and Italian Renaissance to understand South Asian beauty norms. Then we can evaluate the current state of beauty.
Ancient Greek beauty standards
The Greeks used natural resources to achieve beauty standards. They used olive oil and vinegar for hair and makeup and charcoal to line their eyes. Greek women also tinted their lips and used beeswax and charcoal to conceal gray hair and make them appear paler. Women of ancient Greece also wore make-up and had their hair tied in a high top knot. The use of cosmetics and fragrances is fascinating and can help you recreate ancient beauty standards.
For example, ancient Greek society valued fuller figures and a large and round buttock. While men and women were coveted for their six-pack and athletic physique, women were admired for their beautiful buttocks and waists. The Greek nose, which is straight from base to tip, is another important symbol of beauty and a sign of good character. And the Greeks favored women with nipped waists and chiseled cheeks.
Renaissance facial proportions
The Neo-Classical period saw many artists studying the ideal human body to determine the most attractive features. Many of them, including Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Durer, developed elaborate formulas to duplicate the best qualities of Greek beauty. These criteria derived a standard of beauty for a female face based on five key elements: the size of the eyes, distance between the eyes, hairline and lips. The perfect Greek mouth, which is still used today, had a smooth, rounded chin with no dimples.
The ideal forehead was often emphasized in Renaissance paintings. Portraits depicting women’s faces often displayed an unnaturally high forehead. The sitter’s profile draws attention to her high forehead, and a Florentine School artist’s late fifteenth-century Profile portrait of a woman exhibits an ideal forehead. Marinello attributes these characteristics to a beautiful forehead. Women in the Renaissance often sported makeup to make themselves look their best.
The case study of women in Renaissance Italy is a rich source of information for the study of this period, based on extensive research in literature, artwork, and history. The Italian Renaissance is characterized by continuity in its values and aesthetics while bringing about changes to society. However, the study is limited to the upper classes of Renaissance Italy, as the lower classes changed little during this period. The upper class created changes in culture in the fine arts, literature, and philosophy.
The wives of Renaissance Italy were expected to reflect the status of their husbands, and thus their appearance should be beautiful. A thin woman would be a poor reflection of her husband’s wealth, and a woman with big breasts was a beautiful sign of beauty. Various aesthetic indicators were also considered superior, including light hair, full hips, and fair skin. Women also had to be able to stand out from the crowd, and so beauty standards were extremely high.
South Asian beauty norms
A recent illustration portraying the unfair standards of beauty in South Asian cultures has been shared on Facebook. The illustration depicts two women side-by-side, with one labelled as beautiful, while the other is deemed ugly. The illustration was sourced from an Indian children’s book. While women of all skin colors can look beautiful, the darker-skinned woman is often degraded. The older generation also holds that lighter skin is more attractive.
Even before the British ruled the Indian subcontinent, many rulers were fair-skinned. Before the British, Arabs and Mughals possessed lighter skin than the majority of Indians. This cultural bias in favor of fair skin as a beauty standard has its roots in socio-economic and class differences that date back to colonial times. Regardless of its origins, South Asians’ minds were deeply affected by the post-colonial impact of such ideas, which glorified physical appearance as a valuable instrument of social status.
Body positivity movements
The body positivity movement has taken off in recent years, spurred by social media. Influencers are using social media platforms as advertising vehicles, and videos like “Toktok Buddy” on YouTube feature various people’s unique body features, including body hair, surgical scars, cellulite, and more. The movement is also challenging the conventional beauty standards, which promote idealizing a thin body as the ideal.
The body positivity movement emerged as a response to the rise of social media culture. The rise of platforms such as Instagram sparked an ongoing debate about the beauty standards of the feminine body. In particular, the movement advocated embracing all body types, accepting their flaws, and fostering a positive relationship with their bodies. The movement also seeks to promote more positive messaging about body image in society, which is essential to empowering people.
Social media’s influence on beauty standards
One of the most damaging effects of social media on our self-image is its impact on our beauty standards. Constant exposure to images from other people can negatively affect our body image and lead to eating disorders. In addition to harming our physical appearance, our constant exposure to images online can affect our mental health. In some cases, the media can lead us to adopt life-threatening beauty trends. This is why we need to understand how social media can affect our beauty standards.
In addition to the negative effects of the media, there are also risks of distorted social networks. Adolescents are more likely to see pictures of themselves online and make negative comments about their appearance. This trend is unsustainable and will ultimately lead to a decline in our overall beauty. The negative effects of social media on our beauty standards will continue to grow, however, unless we stop promoting unhealthy body images and stop comparing ourselves to others.