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How beauty standards have changed, from antiquity to the present day

Each historical period has (or had) its own standard of beauty. What was considered beautiful and attractive yesterday seems strange and crazy today. The blondes replace the brunettes, the chubby ones replace the thin ones (and then the thin ones reign again) and the women with black skin replace the ones with white skin. Fashion is always reinventing itself.

we, from awesome.clubwe built our own time machine to discover how styles and tastes have changed over the ages.

Antiquity (from VIII BC to V AD)

The culture of the Ancient Age was focused on the human body, which represented nature and freedom. The ancient Greeks were not ashamed of their own bodies, they also took care of them with makeup, clothes and physical activities. After all, they believed that a beautiful person had a beautiful mind.

According to the standard of the time, a beautiful woman should have fair skin, red hair, big lips and wide hips. Makeup was considered an integral part of the nobles’ daily lives. Cosmetics (those that existed at the time) came from China, Gaul (a region where today the territories of Italy and France are located) or were made to order. Rich women even had specially trained slaves who made makeup for them and retouched it during the day.

Pure white skin was an important attribute of beauty in antiquity, although Greeks and Romans were brown. They used to lighten their skin with olive oil, make peeling (with available technologies) and taking milk baths. To eliminate freckles and wrinkles, they made masks of swan fat, honey or vinegar. These substances had a very strong smell, which caused discontent among men.

Pink cheeks were considered attractive and sensual and long eyelashes were a sign of chastity. It was unacceptable for a Roman woman to have body hair: it was removed with resin and scraped off with a pumice stone. Interestingly, unibrows were popular among the Greeks. Thus, the inhabitants of Ancient Greece not only let their eyebrows grow, but also painted them and glued artificial extensions.

The demands on men’s bodies were more stringent than on women. Ancient man should have broad shoulders, a narrow pelvis, an upright posture and developed muscles. For this, they spent 8 hours a day training in the “gyms” of the time.

Some boys also used cosmetics, but against the approval of society. Unlike the woman, the man should be tanned, as if he were working in the sun. It was advised that he wear perfume and remove hair. A man with a lot of hair was considered dirty.

Middle Ages (5th-14th centuries)

During the Middle Ages, the church had a strong influence on people’s lives, including their appearance. Contrary to popular belief that basic rules of hygiene were not followed, there were bathhouses close to large monasteries and places of pilgrimage. The poor frequented public baths and the rich had their own baths.

Asceticism (religious doctrine that preaches contempt for the body) was manifested in everything: in the standard of beauty, in clothes and cosmetics. Following this line, the medieval style of feminine beauty presupposed small breasts, hands, legs and thin lips. To achieve this ideal, girls had their breasts attached from childhood.

The woman’s dress was modest and understated. Personality was expressed through neat hair and a hat: the ones that were in fashion were straw hats, conical hats and hoods. Noble women even added artificial hair or hair from the corpses of people who had been sentenced to death. The Catholic Church considered makeup a great sin. But despite the restrictions, women made face masks, as well as dyeing and curling their hair.

The cult of the Virgin Mary significantly influenced the appearance of medieval women. Pregnancy was encouraged. When the woman was not expecting a child, she would wear special overlays or a dress draped in the stomach area to simulate pregnancy.

The most remarkable characteristic of medieval man was that he was a devout Christian. The clean-shaven face characterized nobility, but the mustache and beard were also acceptable. Medieval lords could have shoulder-length long hair. It was normal, among men, to adopt a monochromatic look, but with embroidered details and decorated with precious stones. In the Middle Ages, men’s pocket squares appeared, which soon became fashionable.

In addition, men did not fail to do various beauty treatments. They dyed and curled their hair in barber shops, made various baldness masks and sought to eliminate wrinkles and improve the color of the face in every way possible. And all this was done in order to please women.

Renaissance (14th-17th centuries)

The man of the Renaissance era was a free, wise, creative citizen with an immortal soul. He was also humanistic, shy, brave, tolerant, and happier than his Middle Ages predecessor. And most importantly, he was in a constant process of learning. Unlike the previous Age, at this time, man’s beauty and strength were considered a blessing.

At that time, a behavior closer to the male vanity common today gained strength. Men began to dedicate themselves more to their own appearance, with more refined haircuts, face and body care, in addition to choosing clothes according to social class. A man of this period should keep his posture as upright as possible and his movements should be light and determined.

The Renaissance woman was supposed to be tall and have long hair, wide hips, large breasts and a small waist. For the first time, women’s clothing began to be sewn with a neckline that gave freedom to the neck, shoulders and upper chest.

Ideally, she should be blonde, like the goddess Venus in Botticelli’s painting. So Renaissance girls bleached their hair and eyebrows in the sun, drank walnut potions, sour apple juice, or used a product called alum. In the 15th century, women used to shave the beginning of hair growth, leaving a large forehead, which was seen as a trait of intelligence. The hairstyles were complex. However, it was recommended to remove body hair to avoid attacks of lice, common at the time, as well as in the Middle Ages.

White skin was considered more beautiful and, to lighten it, lead and mercury oxide were used – both toxic. To make it pink, cinnabar was applied.

Renaissance man was intelligent and athletic. He usually wore a short beard, smearing a good amount of perfume on it, and styled it with wax or starch. Guys used to go for bowl cuts or let their hair grow to their shoulders.

Clothes were decorated with beads and small bells. To make the body look like an inverted triangle, the sleeves and shoulders were voluminous. In a period marked by the liberation of the rigid and restrained style of the Middle Ages, it became common for men to wear jewelry, earrings or pieces of silk tucked into an earhole. They also took on a more explicit concern with appearance (something hitherto associated with women), adopting treatments such as wrinkle masks and skin lightening with lead powder.

Baroque (17th-18th centuries)

The Baroque turned people’s lives upside down. It was a time when many previously non-existent types of entertainment emerged, such as rides in the park and on horseback, fireworks and masked balls. People began to reject everything connected with nature – which came to be associated with wild and ignorant behavior. It was an era when citizens considered themselves noble, thoughtful and polite. During this period, the first fashion publications appeared.

The Baroque woman valued pale skin and lightened it with a mixture of lead and egg white. However, the lips and cheeks should be rosy. To make the face more beautiful, they cut pieces of fabric in the shapes of stars, flowers and hearts, and glued them together, in order to “create” fantastic birthmarks. These marks were necessary to hide smallpox spots (a common disease at the time) or pimples. However, later on, the “brands” began to add some meaning. For example, a fly on the right cheek showed that the woman was married; on the left, that she was engaged and in the corner of his eye, that she was a mistress.

The ideal body at the time should have a small waist, large breasts and hips. That’s why the corset, skirt and high heels have become an integral part of the lady’s wardrobe. fashion baroque. The women made extremely high and complex hairstyles, adding artificial hair, and to fix everything, they used lard or butter.

Baroque man, on the other hand, was an educated gentleman who shaved his mustache and beard and wore a very striking perfume. These gentlemen wore riding pants, socks, a ruffled shirt, jackets, and low-heeled shoes. An accessory that was in fashion was a cane, which hung from a button on a vest or jacket.

The wig was considered a widely accepted male accessory and its shape was constantly changing. The curled hair was smoothed and ribbons were placed. Men frequented barbershops to take care of not only their beards, but also their hair. Clean clothing represented high social status and wealth.

It was at this time that a figure similar to that of today’s hipsters emerged: the macaroni. They wore intricately embroidered, ruffled suits, tight pants, and amazingly sized wigs topped off with a small hat. The macaroni were criticized by many for being overly effeminate, but they were a huge hit in the increasingly popular fashion publications.

Industrial Age (19th century)

“Exaggeration and Simplicity”. Comparison of a women’s dress from the mid-16th century and one from the early 19th century.

Nineteenth-century fashion was characterized by being more unstable than in previous Ages. Clothing styles, body patterns, hairstyles, makeup and attitude began to change more frequently. Even so, there was one dominant pattern in fashion, that of Victorian England. Clothes are no longer used as a way of highlighting their social status, becoming a form of expression. Scientific and technological progress has made it possible to use a huge variety of designs on fabrics and paint them in different colors.

The women’s wardrobe began to be filled with clothes with masculine characteristics. The women…

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