Often when we hear the word “beauty“, we think of the idea of symmetry and a perfect face. But in reality, the concept of beauty is complex and can be defined by a variety of factors. Most importantly, it’s a combination of qualities and character traits.
In ancient Greece, women had the ideal of perfect proportions, including a round chin without dimples, a perfect face and hairline, and a face with long and thin neck. They also believed that the vital force (Qi) was passed down through the generations.
In China, pale skin is a desirable trait. People tend to not judge someone by their appearance when they look at flowers or the sunset. The Virgin paintings of Leonardo convey a maternal tenderness.
The Victorians adopted the notion of the Greek goddess Aphrodite, who was said to be a beautiful woman. They inherited many of the ideas of beauty from the west. Despite knowing that some cosmetics contained lead and arsenic, they were still eager to try and improve their beauty.
They were also aware that cosmetics could have negative effects on their health, so they were hesitant to use them. Instead, they hid their faces behind a black velvet mask, or mixed dung with lemon juice and wore leather masks to cover their faces.
The concept of feminine beauty entered a new age in the 15th century with the Italian Renaissance. Women began to covet the Western beauty ideal. They also used thick layers of cosmetics to enhance their facial features.
The first manual of beauty advice was written by Roman poet Ovid. He recommended a woman should have a slender figure, big eyes, a small ear, and a soft cheek. In the 16th century, French doctor Jean Liebault believed that the ideal woman should have a pale face, a double chin, and dimpled cheeks. He drew on his observations of statues in ancient Greece to develop a formula for replicating the look of a beautiful woman. The formula determined the distance between the tip of the nose and the lips. The size of the eyes and the space between the brow and the mouth were also measured.
By the end of the 17th century, women began to manufacture herbal creams to improve their appearance. They also tinted their gray hair. They added fur to their eyebrows. The face of an upper class woman was enhanced with thick layers of cosmetics.
The concept of beauty is based on a variety of influences, including culture, fashion, and politics. But the standards of beauty are always evolving. Today, good health is a main focus.
The 1960s counterculture emphasized social protest and androgynous looks. This trend was continued into the 1970s and ’80s, with the rise of the punk look. The punk look was a reflection of disenchanted youth, and it was often associated with German cabarets of the 1930s.
After World War II, the public’s perception of beauty changed dramatically. Film actresses such as Audrey Hepburn and Jacqueline Kennedy were considered icons of beauty. The 1960s counterculture also focused on feminine decorations, such as hats and dresses.