If you allow the 21st century to convince you that you’re not beautiful, you are making a grave mistake. Beauty is not an elite secret society, such that one must wait for an invitation or embark on a character-testing sojourn in order to “get in”. Beauty is literally “in the eyes of the beholder”, as Plato once said. That very statement explains how subjective the concept of beauty is. And yet, people make it their business to shun others or judge them for the very thing that makes them happy. If you think that something is beautiful, stand by it. Because God knows, we need more such vocal support.
Beauty on a Timeline
Dating back to Prehistoric times, beauty ideals were established by society as a standard for measuring what is beautiful and what is not. However, these ideals have been doing the rounds since the evolution of human beings. And by showing you a timeline of changing beauty trends, I hope to make you understand that there is no one definition of beauty. Stone Age carvings and even Renaissance paintings feature voluptuous women; they weren’t looked down upon for being overweight. It was the 19th century that saw the drastic change from curves to flat tummies. Corsets were strapped on so tight, and coupled with a poufy skirt, so as to achieve the tiny waist look.
Men and women were, both, equally concerned about their appearances and so would use powders made of mercury and white lead to enhance their facial features. After a bout of hourglass obsession in the 1940s, there was once again a battle between the extreme curves and skinny looks in the 1960s. Finally, in the 2000s, people took to cosmetic surgery.
“Archaic makeup was most likely used to make the wearer fearsome, to ward off evil and/or predators, most likely in the form of face-paint or a mask… Concoctions of colored pigments and grease have been dated to 33,000 B.C, the first being mixtures of soot and animal fat. The grease makeup could be used as a skin protectant from the elements…” (“History of Makeup Independent Study,” 2011) Now, every time someone calls you out for wearing makeup or says that it is fake beauty, give them a history lesson, why don’t you?
Much like any aspect of life, beauty has also been an element that could be bought and sold. More than being sold, it has been used as a marketing tactic by film and cosmetic industries. Dove, a Unilever brand that caters to personal care, recently came out with an ad campaign that promotes breaking “the rules of beauty”. This ad features women of all ethnicities, of different forms and features, smiling and standing united. Such an inclusive ad campaign would make a majority of the target population feel proud and motivated, thereby making Dove a desirable brand. It is a commendable campaign, to say the least!
On another tangent, the film and modelling industries are proponents of a highly stylised beauty; one that takes care of every stray strand of hair and every open pore. They make such a concept of beauty attainable and draw in followers by the thousand. Truth be told, it must be all too empowering to have a slew of professionals working overtime to make you look divine. And they are the modern Godmothers who swish and sway their magical wand to make your fairytale dream come true.
The profession of cosmetology has been in practice for hundreds of years, since the time of Egyptians, to be precise. It involves beautifying different parts of one’s body such as hair, nails, face etc. Cosmetology is a profession on the rise and can earn you a pretty decent income, as long as you have a valid certification. Fun fact – Cochineal is an insect that is ground to produce red dye. It was used by the Aztec Civilization for beauty purposes.
Lastly, plastic surgery is a business that is finely woven into the ideals of beauty. Surgeons are often requested to alter one’s body proportion so as to make it more attractive. This includes breast implants, face lifts, liposuction, ear jobs and so much more. There is a tendency among people to mock individuals who have undergone plastic surgery. That is nothing but an intrusion on one’s personal choice. As long as you’re an adult and your decision behind getting a cosmetic surgery is purely based on well thought out reasons, you shouldn’t have to feel ashamed of it. That being said, there may be health hazards associated with different procedures. Always do your due diligence before rushing into something.
Of late, there have been several trends, with respect to body image, flooding the internet. Some of these (like the Collarbone Challenge and A4 Size Challenge) are so appalling and they should be discouraged at once! Let’s take a quick look at a few:
Mermaid Thighs or Thigh Gaps. This is a body positive trend observed in women. When you stand with your knees together, if both your thighs touch, it is called Mermaid Thighs. This lack of a gap between the thighs indicates that you are not alarmingly skinny.
Hip Dips or Violin Hips. If there’s an indent between your hip and where your thigh starts, you are said to have Violin Hips.
Thighbrow. It refers to a fold over the front of your thigh, when you kneel or bend forward.
Collarbone Challenge. This challenge showcases people trying to balance as many coins as they can in the hollow space created by their collarbones. The idea is that the thinner you are, the more coins you are able to balance.
The A4 Size Challenge. People compare their waist to an A4 sized paper, by holding it in front of their body. This is used as a standard for “thin waists”.
Hotdog Legs. Here’s another trend that is spreading like wildfire on social media, wherein individuals compare their legs to hotdogs.
Body shaming is an atrocious habit. It posits one’s body image as being negative; thereby making them feel inferior or less beautiful. Some challenges and trends may mislead you into thinking that you have to look a particular way in order to be attractive or beautiful. But do not base your opinions about beauty off the internet! To conclude, the truth about beauty is that it resides in your smile and attitude just as much as it does in your physical appearance (whatever you do, take care of yourself). All you have to do is own it!
We are all Beautiful People, after all.