Beauty around the globe in the 21st Century

Have things changed in all these years? Or are those considered beautiful, just a few 'types' that fit into special and unique categories?

It appears that world trade, technology, and the Internet, have all played a role in the 'westernization of beauty.'
ideal woman in 1600 & 2000
Image Credits

AMERICAN IDEAL: SKINNIER, THE BETTER? Here in the United States, there is an extreme obsession for everything skinny, and the fashion world seems to dictate to our culture what is beautiful. Probably the worst technological advancement to women is photoshopping. Those in charge of selling an image and product to the public can digitally alter or shrink a model's already thin frame for magazines, catalogues, and on the internet.

It appears to be a quest for unattainable perfection. Even former star model of the late 1980s and 1990s, Cindy Crawford, has seen the dramatic shift in model proportions on the runways and in major magazines. The fashion icon spoke to Parade magazine in 2011 about the changing beauty type:
"I do feel like an outsider now......And I also think when I was modeling, size 6 was a normal size and now it’s like 2 or 0."

Although American media seems to enjoy a huge influence around the world, every country has its own unique concept of beauty. It's refreshing to see that one size or look does not fit all, although skinny is becoming a global norm among the famous and rich, and celebrities like actresses.

THE KATE AND PIPPA EFFECT IN THE U.K. Across the pond in the U.K., one only needs to look at the very slender Middleton sisters to see the obsession women around the globe have with Kate and Pippa's appearance, fashion, and link to royalty.

Image via Flickr

Women, both young and older, want to be like Kate and Pippa. Whatever makeup, perfume, hosiery, and shoes the future Queen is putting on, girls must have them. And soon enough, the item sells out. Although the British media has scoffed at Kate's uber thinness, it appears her fans don't appear any less enamored. Look at slender Pippa and her much-talked about behind. Young girls desire that kind of figure.

Since India's economy opened up to foreign investment almost 20 years ago, women and men in India have a very clear idea of what is considered beautiful. That beauty has come to be defined as fair skin, tall, and slender. The matrimonial ads placed by families in search of a bride for their son always mention those attributes.

And the influence of Bollywood is powerful. India's beautiful actress, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, has been cruelly criticized. Tabloid headlines have been scolding the belle of Bollywood for not being able to lose her post-pregnancy weight. The word 'fat' has been used again and again, sparking a major discussion about India's attitude towards women and fame.

fit vs fat Ash
Image Credits: Pinkvilla

BEING FAT IS FABULOUS IN SOME AFRICAN CULTURES In fact, being fat is a symbol of good life and wealth. In Mauritania and Nigeria, girls and brides-to-be are force-fed to make them plump and pretty.
In Zimbabwe, there is a Miss Big Is Beautiful contest for heavy women, and it's very popular. Still, there is more and more pressure for young girls and women to look "lepa shandi" (skinny) like the fashion models, even if their men say they prefer fleshier women.

WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED ABOUT BEAUTY? It would be wonderful to say that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. We would like to think that way. Of course, there are always going to be beauty ideals, but the quote below, sums up what a lot of people believe:

"There is certainly no absolute standard of beauty. That precisely is what makes its pursuit so interesting." --John Kenneth Galbraith

Jessica Laurent is a stylish public speaker on women health issues.

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1 comment:

  1. What a beautifully insightful post! Beauty is indeed ever evolving!


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