The Evolution Of Beauty by xiaopangnv


									      Adam Tarif
   Grade 11 English Class


What Is and Was the
Evolution of Beauty in
International School of Geneva

         Ms. Nickell

  Word Count: 2071 words
         Table of Contents:

 Abstract – page 1

 Essay – page 2-6

 Bibliography – page 7

This essay dives into the change and development of western beauty beginning
with the age before civilisation up to present day. What were the changes and
why they happened? What was the significance of these new styles? These
questions will be answered in the essay to follow.

Using several primary and secondary reports this essay is developed in to a
thorough explanation of how humanity’s definition of beauty has evolved. The
essay includes as well an analysis of several celebrities that brought about
these changes.

The essay concludes that beauty is under constant change and that because of
the rise of the entertainment industry and especially cinemas the fashions for
the past century or so has been deeply influenced film actors, music artists and
other celebrities.
                                Mini-Extended Essay

 Beauty and humans’ perception of it has existed since Homo sapiens first existed, although
what we consider to be beautiful in a human and what isn’t has gone under countless and at
some points dramatic changes. This essay investigates the different eras of beauty in men and
women. What were there the causes and effects of these changes in perception? What was the
mentality of these different looks in that person and in the eye of the beholder?
 This essay focuses briefly on the features in other humans that have been hardwired into
our brain of what we considered to be attractive, and have so since mankind first existed. The
rest of the investigation is carried out in the time period between the Renaissance in the 15th
century to modern day using primary sources such as paintings to demonstrate, as well as
secondary sources such as writings of journalists. Included in the essay is the impact these
changes in what is considered beautiful on the society of that time period.
 Beginning back in the distant past, before civilisation even then we had preferences
between humans as to what was found more attractive. The purpose of this selection was
somewhat simpler to people today who squander their time on what they consider to be
beautiful. No, in those days the purpose was to have the best mate, to create the strongest
offspring so as to have the greatest chance of surviving in the harsh world they were thrown
in to. For women; their preference would be men that were tall, small chinned faces and
bodies with a heart shape: small hips and wide shoulders. In the facial structure; men with a
very close similarity between left and right sides of their face promote attraction as well.
These traits are still carried through to the current day as qualities of a beautiful or handsome
man. For men; what they find striking in a woman are wide hips and the facial structure made
up of a small nose accompanied by two big eyes and a distinct cheekbone. These traits in
woman are still widely considered as good-looking. A correlation between wide hipped
woman and certain disease suggest that to have a small hipped waist as a woman raises the
chance of developing certain sicknesses such as diabetes and even sterilisation.
 Skipping far forward in time to the 15th century and the renaissance is the second time
period to be discussed. This was the time of the likes of Leonardo de Vinci and Sandro
Botticelli. The two painters both demonstrated in their pieces of art what was at the time
considered to be attractive, especially in women. One of, if not the most famous painting: the
Mona Lisa illustrates the stereotypical pretty woman. The Madonna’s receded hairline is a
result of a trend for women at the time to enlarge their foreheads by agonizingly plucking
away at their hairline, this being considered to be beautiful. As it is today, in the 15th century
blond hair was ‘all the rage’ at the time, although unusually the Mona Lisa did not dye her
hair despite being a complete display of what beauty is. Interestingly enough people back
then didn’t find women beautiful if they were abnormally thin, as is customary today. No, in
that time a ‘gorgeous’ women was curvy and had some shape to her, in other words ‘had
some meat on her bones’ , this being a belief that is not so popular today, but present day
description of beauty will come back later on in this essay.
 A century forward, in to the 16th century and the Elizabethan era, an era so strongly
influenced by Queen Elizabeth 1st that it was named after her. Her physically pale
complexion and dazzling red hair was what all women wanted to look like. Some women
achieved her look using white powder to get the right skin tone and red haired wigs to crown
their heads, but for others their pursuit of beauty turned out to be fatal in the case of those that
used white lead to colour their skin, white lead being essentially poisonous. For men their
new change in look was to have their hair short with a petite beard and moustache to
accompany it. Hilariously this new look of facial hair was brought about also by a monarch:
King Francis 1st of France who was rumoured to have had this new look brought upon him
accidently when his hair was burnt near to its roots. So came to pass the new look for men
and women, that was regarded to be beauty.
  In the 18th century, styling of the hair took off very dramatically especially for women. At
the beginning of the century the female population curled and powdered their hair, often with
a bow at the end of it. This look was also very much desired by wealthy men who had a
closely related style except for it not being their real hair. The wigs they wore were a white
colour and curled as well, usually tied back using a black bow. Later on in the same century
women’s hair became exaggerated. On top of the already eccentric hairstyle, they began to
wear head ornaments such as feathers, precious rocks and even ships. These head ornaments
could only be worn by the very wealthy as for example the ship cost time and money to
construct as well as to sustain in good shape. This hairstyle is most famously known to have
been worn by Marie Antoinette, the wife of Louis 16th of France. These hairdos were a
display of her wealth and power, much to the disapproval of the majority of the French
population .Towards the end of the century hairstyle took on another look. To counter beliefs
of lavishness and requirements, men and women alike chose to have their hair in a more
unkempt look known as the hedgehog.
 The more subtle hedgehog fashion carried in to the Victorian age in the 19 hundreds. At the
forefront of this style was yet another sovereign: Queen Victoria who promoted the idea of
natural beauty. The use of makeup was not discarded but heavy use of it in this period was
associated more with ladies that performed on stage and ladies of the night. Women took
more of an interest in good living and there hygiene instead of extravagant hairstyles, as well
as a rise in awareness of the side effects of industrial cosmetics which were in some cases
lethal. This whole time women considered being curvy and more ‘S’ shaped as being
attractive as oppose to today where ‘beautiful’ women bear similar physical attributes to a
twig. No real change happen to men except for a more subtle taste in clothing, short hair and
a variety of beards and moustaches that would be considered peculiar and humorous in this
current day.
 In the duration of the 20th century many consecutive and different changes happened to the
perception of what was an attractive person, much more by women than with men. These
constant changes mainly occurred by the growing entertainment business such as cinemas.
With actors and entertainers being many people’s idols the styles changed for the new
upcoming idol a majority of the population wanted to bear a resemblance to.
 Beginning with the 1920’s, society was trying to break away from the Victorian ideology
towards beauty. Meaning that women began to wear a lot of make up again, that was
normally associated with actresses and prostitutes. An assortment of powders and other
cosmetic appliances became used again. Men, not so dramatically made no extreme change in
appearance with the exception of having their hair slicked backwards using oils and parting
the hair. This style for men was likewise popular because of certain idols using it.
 Between the 1930’s and the end of the 1940’s actresses and actors were the ones creating
the trends that everyone else followed. All sorts of hairstyles sprung up and were deemed as
attractive, especially women having their hair long really caught on to the population in the
USA. The different traits of the long hair as well were considered eye-catching. Curls and
waves became fashionable as female icons wore them. Men made no extreme change; their
hair was still short and slicked back with the use of oil. A small addition was growing a
moustache that was taken care of very vigilantly.
 In the 1960’s several styles sprung up at the same time. For women who were starting to be
part of the work force since the Second World War they began to focus less on their hair and
makeup because it was impractical for them. Caucasian women all went for the same look
when it came to cosmetics; pale lips opposed by dark eyes using mascara and strong eyeliner.
Men’s hairstyle took a very dramatic change. The Beatles hairstyle known as the ‘mop tops’
caught on like wildfire among men. This was the first time it was considered to be attractive
or fashionable since wealthy men wore long haired wigs centuries before. In the USA African
Americans began to grow their hair into the afro as a sign of defiance against their white
oppressors and pride for their heritage. An introduction to very thin women as being a sign of
beauty was first introduced by the likes of a model named Twiggy. This style had yet to catch
on as much of the population considered Marilyn Monroe to be stunning.
 20 years on, in the 80’s a whole new set of different hairstyles and looks flourished. Once
again the cause of these trends was famous people such as Madonna who promoted wearing
heavy makeup and vivid neon coloured clothes. Accompanied this was bizarre coloured hair
that intentionally made like this to be eye catching and stand out. The punk culture came
through as well with its followers bearing aggressive spiked up hair, they were mainly
Caucasian teenagers who followed this trend. Michael Jackson made it big and with him
came his style of bright clothing and hairstyle known as the ‘Jeri curl’ that was derived from
the afro that most African Americans still had. To challenge these fluorescent new styles, the
‘preppy’ look was born and used by men and women alike. It bared a keen resemblance with
the hairstyle found in the military. At this time for women the look of being thin was still not
trendy, curved , ‘S’ shaped women such as supermodel, Cindy Crawford was still widely
 Roughly 10 to 20 years ago, thinness bordering on anorexia became popular, among many
other values of what was beauty. Celebrities once again were at the vanguard of these new
fashions: Michael Jordan, one of the most celebrated athletes made the shaved head look
popular. Music artists put forward their styles, the rock style of various facial piercings and
messy hair was meant as a movement of defiance against the 80’s looks of pruned hairstyles
and striking clothing.
  Lastly the last period is from 2000 to the present day. Today many different styles and
notions of what is beauty exist, however one that is widely popular and once again is
promoted through celebrities is that which has come to be known as the heroin chic. In this
age the psychological relations with being aware of one’s body has taken a turn for the worst.
As a result we now have a generation of women and men alike who are obsessed with
keeping track of their weight and only determine their worth through weight and how little
they have of it.
  As a conclusion it can be said that beauty cannot really defined as it takes different forms
and is constantly evolving. There are certain aspects that remain throughout time such as the
heart shaped body of men but everything else changes. That that was once considered
beautiful a few decades before, a few years later is considered to be offensive and derogatory.
This is not to say that to be attractive is not something to be pursued but in this day and age
beauty has become very grotesque with women becoming only ‘skin and bones’ because of
their anorexia which is judged what beauty is. In the end it is hard to say what is and isn’t
beautiful because as Margaret Hungerford said so wisely: ‘beauty is in the eye of the
    Ruud, Maddie. ‘Western Standards of Beauty: An Illustrated Timeline.’
    ‘Human Beauty’
    Feng, Charles. “Looking Good: The Psychology and Biology of beauty.” 6 December
    “Hairstyles”

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