Society’s perception on what beauty consists of is constantly changing. You only need to look at paintings of great beauties from 100 years ago to see this.
Famed Prostitute of the 18th Century: Kitty Fisher
A beauty of the 12th to 18th centuries was fair, plump, small mouthed and double chinned. Pale and prone to blushing was the preferred skin tone. To emphasise the point, this is Edward IV, who was considered the most good looking man in world (in the 1400s)
His wife Elizabeth Woodville was also considered a great beauty, and she looks a lot more like what would be considered beautiful by todays standards.
Still, her daughter Elizabeth of York was also meant to be beautiful and thats a bit more of a headscratcher:
Elizabeth of York
Olive skinned, full lipped, raven haired beauties would be considered sallow and too ‘wide mouthed’, just like Anne Boleyn was.
Today there isn’t just one perception of beauty, because everyone has different tastes in what they find attractive. As a society I feel we are far more open and accepting to different kinds of beauty. I guess this change occured in the sixties and seventies, where people generally started to open their minds. There was a brief dip in then noughties in diversity, and one kind of look prevailed: the long straight blonde hair with perfectly tanned skin and light eyes. This was made popular by the likes of Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie and The Simple Life.
The kind of models seen in magazines like Playboy were all of this mold. The Playboy Bunnies are a good reflection of our perceptions of beauty. In the sixties and seventies through to the late nineties, they were diverse in their looks. Then the noughties happened, but if you look at them now they are as diverse as they’ve ever been. The Blonde and Tanned template doesn’t exist anymore.
Another reflection of this is the Paris Hilton vs Kim Kardashian trend. In the noughties, Kim was Paris’ assistant and Paris was seen as the beautiful one. However Kim overtook Paris in popularity and now is generally seen as one of the most attractive women in the world. Regardless of your personal opinion of her, she is undeniably beautiful. Paris’ look is now dated, old fashioned and even cheap. An ‘exotic’ look is definitely a benefit these days.
So what is attractive today?
It seems that big eyes have always been an attractive feature, and full lips are also very desirable now, although they haven’t always been. But one feature that has never been allowed to be big is the nose. Unfortunately for me, I have a big nose, yet I have always liked big noses on people. I personally don’t find that nose size affects attractiveness. Some of the most beautiful women, in my opinion, have larger than average noses. Yet, mostly thanks to Hollywood, a small straight nose is portrayed as the most desirable. Many famous actresses were told to get nose jobs when they started out, however its the ones that refused who became the most successful.
And actress Jennifer Grey ruined her career by getting a nose job. So when will noses of the more creative shape and size become acceptable in beauty? I hope it is soon, because I love my nose and I am so glad bullies didn’t push me to getting a nose job when I was younger.
Anyway, beauty is an objective thing. Society may influence who we find beautiful, but at the end of the day, and I know this is going to sound cliche and saccharine, but everyone has their own beauty. And what even is beauty? Is it just what other people find attractive? That can’t be it because I don’t think we exist just to attract a mate. It has to be something more abstract. It isn’t tangible. As much as some people like to think they can just go to a doctor and pay them to give them beauty, that isn’t how it works. And if one things for certain, its that society will change its mind about whats beautiful many times within our lifetime. So my point is, don’t worry about what society tells you to look like. Look like you. You’re beautiful.