Beauty Pop cultures x Beauty standards throughout the years

What is beauty?  And who decides?  In the pop culture arena, we all have a good idea.  Ultimately, it’s the marketing executives in a broad range of intertwining industries— advertising, film, fashion, television, and magazine publishing.

But there is a growing resistance to what has been considered the “idealized female image,” according to research summarized at   Using a “celebrity or model embracing a product or draping themselves across it” may do more harm than good when the potential customer is female.

The very presence of the model led to a loss of self-confidence as the consumer (mostly female) looked at the advertisement. The difference between being turned away and making a purchase depended on how consciously aware they were of the model’s ideal features and beauty compared to their own self image. But as we are all aware, the definition of beauty has changed so much due to all the popular culture that we are consuming everyday…especially teenagers!

We all see models with perfect features, great body, long legs and beautiful skin but how about we look back at what once used to be the “perfect body” for the society



1910 The Gibson Girl

Meet the “it girl” of the era: the Gibson Girl. Illustrator Charles Gibson was the early 1900s what trend setting fashion photographers are today. His dream girl, broadcast on the pages of LIFE magazine, Collier’s, and Harper’s, quickly became the famous on their era. Women raced to copy the signature look, a showstopping feminine body like a looping figure 8, thanks to a super cinched corset. (Don’t try this at home!) Linda M. Scott writes in Fresh Lipstick: Redressing Fashion and Feminism, “The Gibson Girl was not dainty… she was dark, regal in bearing, and quite tall.”


1920 The Flapper!

Say bye-bye to monumental curves, statuesque height, fussy updos, and all that jazz and hello to the flapper. Unlike the frozen beauty of the decade before, the flapper is constantly in motion. The exaggerated curves of Gibson are gone and replaced with small bust and hips.

In fashion, the waistline moves several inches below the navel, making narrow hips a necessity. But don’t be fooled, the flapper doesn’t lack sex appeal, the focus has simply shifted downward to the legs, where a shorter knee-length hemline could expose the flash of a garter while doing a “shimmy” (It’s a kind of dance while your body shakes or sway, pretty cool to try!)  Margaret Gorman, crowned as the first Miss America in 1921, was the era’s ideal.

1930 The Soft Siren

Following the stock market crash, spirits dip back down and so do hemlines. Dresses are now draped on the bias (a type of sewing where you cut the fabric diagonally). It’s a less boxy, more fitted silhouette. The natural waist (around the belly button) comes back and there’s a hint of shoulder too. And the flat chested look so popular in the 1920s gives way to a small bust line, likely a direct result of the new bra cup size invented in this era. The media embraces a slightly more curvaceous body, making this era moving forward in a very good way, petite look of the 1920s toward the curvier 1940s. Photoplay, the People magazine of its day, declares actress Dolores del Rio to have the best figure in Hollywood. The article applauds her “warmly curved” and “roundly turned” figure.

1950 The Hourglass

Welcome to the era of the hourglass. In the 1950s, the ideal body type reaches Jessica Rabbit or Marilyn Monroe proportions. After the angularity of the war era, a soft voluptuousness was prized above everything. Ads at the time even advised “skinny” women to take weight-gain supplements to fill out their curves. Playboy  magazine and Barbie were both created in this decade (yes, Barbie was created nearly 70 years ago! Something I’ve never knew before) trending a tiny-waist, large-chested ideal. Fashions also showcased this body type with the rounded shapes of sweetheart necklines and circle skirts.

1960 The Twig

The swinging 60s brings the pendulum back in the other direction. Thin is in. And Jessica-Rabbit proportions are out. The look is now fresh faced, girlish, and appeal to both male and female. Models like Twiggy and Jean Shrimptom (aka “The Shrimp”) represented a new ideal look, doll faced, super slender, and petite. The clothing supports this look are shrunken shift dresses remove the cinched waistline, and fashion demands of a smaller bust and slim hips. (Sound familiar? It’s the same style as we saw from Gibson girl to flapper.)

1970 The Disco Diva

Disco! Jumpsuits! Bell bottoms! This decade was a raging party. But the party girl of the day was still pressured to maintain a slim hipped, flat stomached body in order to rock these fashions at the discotheque.Synthetic fabric like polyester and spandex are embraced, but they’re also far more revealing compared to fabrics of the past. The overall look remains lean, especially in the torso, but curves start to come back.

Like the 1930s, this decade is a step away from the petite look of the 1960s. And following the black pride and “black is beautiful” movements of the 1960s, Beverly Johnson becomes the first black woman to grace the cover on Vogue, while Darnella Thomas stars in a groundbreaking “Charlie” fragrance ad.

1980 The Supermodel

Amazonian supermodels reign supreme. These tall, leggy women come to represent the new feminine ideal. Women like Elle MacPherson, Naomi Campbell, and Linda Evangelista lead the stampede off the runway and into the heart of pop culture, dominating the media and music videos of this decade.

The 1980s also went in to an era of fitness, thanks to Jane Fonda. Aerobics and jogging take off, and for the first time, muscles are acceptable and desirable on women. It’s both empowering and discouraging—one more beauty standard to add to a lengthening list.(True, beauty standard now is all about looking fit and having muscles which I cleary don’t have!)


2000 The Buff beauty

Supermodel Giselle Bundchen brings sexy back, according to Vogue. She’s credited with ending the era of “heroin chic.” Gone with the pale, gaunt, glass eyed look of the 90s. Now we enter an era of visible abs and airbrushed tans. Bundchen is crowned “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” by Rolling Stone magazine and dominates the runway, print ads, Victoria Secret’s lingerie show, and the red carpet with Leonardo DiCaprio (I know, I know..they’ve dated before). Hollywood actresses follow her lead hiring a small group of personal trainers and layering on a couple coats of spray tan during awards season.

2010 The Booty

It is all about the booty and we all see it, with Nicki minaj Anaconda music video or J.Lo it is safe to say that people now pay a lot of attention to their booty and curves. Kim kardashian, Kylie jenner, Beyonce all have beautiful and nice hourglass figure to their body (maybe kim is a little to excessive with her booty thing) but we can definitely see the resemblance with the 1950s era.


Beauty standards change all the time, when new trends comes in, the old one dies out (maybe not completely but I think you know what I mean). I know that the current beauty standard is very important to all of us even to me, I would like to change myself to look better and feel better but not in a way of pressuring myself to look exactly the same as my favorite supermodel. I also hope that everyone realize that beauty standards isn’t everything in our lives, they come and go but what’s important is who we are and how we feel with ourselves.

Minnie XOXO

2 thoughts on “Beauty Pop cultures x Beauty standards throughout the years

  1. tsuyutopia says:

    Nowadays, I have seen so many music videos consist of women’s boobs and booties. And I think it’s pretty boring for me since I’m a girl. But I just want to see some of the MVs that will break this trend by using women wearing old fashion. I think it would be quite fun to see it!


  2. karnjanit says:

    I’m really enjoy reading your blog!!!! < Moreover, I'm agree with you that everyone should be happy of what they already have since the world always change just like trend and beauty that never stop develop! And what I'm gonna say is that, to develop yourself to look better is not wrong but you just have to be yourself as well!


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