The concept of beauty is a complex social phenomenon. Across time, different societies have used different standards to define what is considered beautiful. These standards have changed through the years and have been influenced by many factors, including politics, class, media, and racism. While scientists have been arguing about the origin of these standards, one thing is certain: the concept of beauty has become more selective.
Beauty has been an important facet of power, both as a source of perceptual experience and as a means to gain advantage. In the ancient world, the concept of beauty was widespread and the idea of a perfect face was common. For example, the perfect Greek chin had a smooth and circular shape without any dimples or wrinkles.
The Renaissance introduced a new idea of beauty to the Western world. Women started to apply thick layers of cosmetics on their faces to make them appear more youthful. Cosmetics were sold at fairs and at home. There was also a huge publishing industry dedicated to beauty. Even today, there are hundreds of products that are advertised as beauty solutions.
During the Renaissance, women in Italy painted their faces in all kinds of styles. Some were delicate and feminine, while others were more aggressive. Frida Kahlo, an artist who is known for her radical rejection of white colonial beauty standards, painted self-portraits with hair in her eyebrows. She also painted self-portraits wearing pre-Columbian clothes.
The Renaissance’s ideal of beauty was more focused on facial symmetry than on the body. It was also believed that facial symmetry was an expression of femininity. Among other things, a woman should have big eyes and small ears. Moreover, the mouth should be proportional to the head.
Beauty was a natural feature of the Greeks, who had red lips and a naturally red mouth. Their architecture was based on symmetry. When the Romans arrived, they took over where the Greeks left off. They also introduced the notion that a woman’s lips should extend slightly beyond the nostrils.
As the 16th century Parisian doctor Jean Liebault wrote, an ideal woman should have a slender face, soft cheeks, and a double chin. Several artists, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Albrecht Durer, studied how different facial proportions affected a person’s overall appearance.
Throughout the centuries, the idea of a beautiful person was largely subjective. However, most people agreed that certain women were beautiful. Aside from the subjective perception, there is also an objective definition of beauty.
A face characterized by perfect symmetry is beautiful. People who have an average face, such as Jack Welch, are not considered as attractive. Other criteria include having big eyes, full lips, and a rounded chin.
As the twentieth century progressed, the idea of beauty was shaped by capitalism. This allowed the beauty business to expand. Beauty products were mainly profitable for the rich. Beauty companies relied on consumer insecurities. Companies rebranded their products as countercultural advertising campaigns that were designed to resemble social activism. Such campaigns reached a new consumer base.