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Changing Beauty Standards

It’s kind of unbelievable how superficial people have become in modern times. Most people consider beauty and physical attraction to be a stable basis for a successful relationships. With this type of mentality, it’s no wonder divorce rates are skyrocketing. It has been proven that loyalty, honesty and open communication are the factors that make a relationship work, but it’s rare for people to seek these qualities in modern times.

The Changing Beauty Standards In Our Time

There was an old episode of the black and white television show The Twilight Zone called “The Eye of the Beholder.” The episode was set in a hospital where all the employees had terribly deformed faces. Their features looked more like those of a pig than those of a human being, yet they were attempting to cure other people of their deformed faces. The faces of the patients weren’t shown until the end of the episode, but the man and woman were what anyone would describe as attractive. The point of the episode was to show how our ideas about beauty are constructed. If people with severe deformities were the norm, than “normal” looking people would be considered hideous. This may seem impossible, but it’s far more plausible than most people think.

The Birth of the Boyish Look

Women naturally have wider hips than men, because their pelvises are shaped differently. Women have a pelvic cradle which helps them  deliver babies easier. It’s completely natural for women to have curves, and it’s equally natural for men to find these curves attractive. However, looking at thin fashion models would give the impression that women with curves are unattractive. The boyish look is a prime example of how people’s idea about beauty can be influenced. Most of the world’s top fashion designers use mannequins when they create new clothing. Since these mannequins have boyish physiques with no curves, the designers will seek women with the same body type to model their clothing. In fact, the boyish look didn’t become popular until the late 1970’s when supermodels began to gain a lot of fame. Prior to this, women with larger breasts and wide hips were considered to be more attractive. Anyone who owns a vintage issue of Playboy magazine to see how women with curves were once considered to be more attractive than those with a less feminine shape.

Getting Back to Reality

Perhaps there are traits that are just naturally more universally attractive. For instance, the superstar actress and singer Jennifer Lopez is well known for her curvaceous figure and she was regarded as the most attractive woman on earth at one point. While the Latina beauty from the Bronx does have a beautiful face, it was her amazing posterior that made her famous. It seems as though people are awakening from the fashion designer induced boyish-look craze. The most popular female entertainer in the world is Beyoncé Knowles, and her wide hips are also a part of her appeal. Another young woman that has made a name for herself by being curvaceous is reality TV star Kim Kardashian. It would seem that the curves that were held in such high regard are once again becoming a desirable trait. Women like Serena Williams would have been ridiculed for their curves in the eighties, but now they’re considered to be more desirable. There are even women who go as far as having cosmetic surgery to increase the size of their backsides.

It’s obvious when a woman has had her backside augmented just as it’s easy to see when a flat chested woman had surgery to increase the size of her breasts. However, women like Rapper Nicki Minaj and model Cocoa have obviously had an unnatural increase in the size of their bottoms – though Minaj denies having her body augmented.

The fact this procedure even exists makes it very difficult to determine what exactly beauty is. Thirty years ago, women would exercise for hours on end to reduce the size of their backsides. However, women in today’s society are taking the opposite approach. Seeing the way people’s opinions on beauty change so drastically only substantiates the classic “Eye of the Beholder” episode.

Glamour: Makeover Beauty

The one universal trait that all “attractive” people have in common is a symmetrical face. Someone whose face is abnormally uneven will hardly be regarded as beautiful, regardless of body shape. However, there are things people can do to make others think of them as being more attractive. It’s not uncommon to see a show where men and women are made over until they look like a completely different person. Most people would agree that a lot of makeup, a new outfit and a fancy hairstyle makes the makeover recipient look much better. This is reflective of people’s obsession with glamour and the idea that glamorizing people makes them more attractive. However, glamour isn’t beauty. Some men even prefer a woman who doesn’t wear makeup. With so many different opinions about beauty, it’s no surprise that some people have turned to trivial quizzes to improve their self image.

“How Beautiful Are You?” Quizzes

The notion that taking a quiz can tell you if you’re attractive or not is asinine. However, that doesn’t stop people over the world from logging onto sites that offer them. However, these tests are reflective of a more recent trend in people’s perception of beauty. One of the more common questions asks if your hair is thin, soft and straight. This response will garner a higher score than saying that your hair is thick and coarse.

These questions are obviously designed to say that Western European features are more attractive than other features. People of African descent rarely have the thin, soft hair which these quizzes deem to be nice. In fact, African hair is typically more coarse for surviving in hotter climates. Thicker hair is ideal for retaining water in hotter, drier climates and it is one of the most dominant traits in the human genome. However, centuries of mental conditioning has taught people that thinner, softer hair is more attractive and most of these biased quizzes reflect this.

Women of color will often go through extreme measures to hide and disguise their natural hair, because of the perception that Western Europeans are more attractive. This was never more evident than when The Talk co-host Cheryl Underwood admonished Heidi Klum for keeping her children’s Afro hair. The actress was once married to African American singer Seal, and the couple had two boys before they divorced. Klum said in an interview that she kept her son’s hair after their first haircut. Sheryl Underwood was quick to say how nasty the hair is and Klum should have immediately discarded it.

When Sara Gilbert intervened she said that she kept her children’s hair from the first haircut. Underwood once again displayed her hatred of ethnic hair by saying Gilbert’s children had beautiful, silky straight hair. While Underwood went on to apologize for making the comments, she continues to wear wigs and weaves in an attempt to conform to modern ideals about beauty. Our absurd beauty standards are reflected in the annual $9 billion that ethnic women spend on hair care products that either hide or straighten their natural hair.

Am I beautiful?

The truth is, beauty truly lies in the eye of the beholder. However, the media plays a large role as well. For instance, blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe was very curvaceous. She certainly had a more full figure than the average supermodel. In the fifties and sixties, Monroe was considered to be the world’s most attractive woman. If she was alive today, she would probably be ridiculed for being too fat. Being beautiful seems to have more to do with the era in which you live than it does with your physical appearance. So just remember that your are as beautiful as you feel you are, and don’t ever let the media get to you!


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