Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Beauty Standards Changing

One of my favorite things that I have had time to do this year is watch old movies. And by “old movies” I don’t mean ones like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (although that is pretty excellent).

I mean going back to the days of black and white and musicals; films like Casablanca, Sabrina, Roman Holiday, Some Like it Hot, An Affair to Remember, How to Marry a Millionaire, etc. The list goes on and on.

Being a girl who has often felt like I was born in the wrong era, I love watching movies such as these when holding hands and a simple look said it all.

This being the case, you would think I would be completely captivated by Cary Grant, Humphry Bogart, and the other leading men in these movies, but instead I always find myself utterly spellbound by the leading ladies: Audrey Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, Marilyn Monroe, Katharine Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Deborah Kerr, Greta Garbo, etc. To me, these women seem to radiate with a pure kind of beauty that one just doesn’t seem to see nowadays.


These breathtakingly gorgeous women did not wear the marks of a society that is constantly searching for the next cosmetic product, treatment, or surgery that promises the restoration of youth. They embraced their curves, their natural figure. They exhibited sex appeal by simply accentuating their shape and femininity. They aged with grace and elegance. Their beauty was humble and untainted.

This is certainly not to say that I think the women of Hollywood today are not stunning, or that the women from past generations faced just as much pressure to look beautiful, but there are more options available to women today to alter themselves and they are taking full advantage of it...and then asking for more.

Leading ladies today go to great lengths to try to hold onto their youthful beauty rather than simply embracing natural beauty. And even if they can’t make something “perfect”, then there is Photoshop, which has become an all too prevalent tool, to erase any slight imperfection, making their beauty even less natural-looking. As a result, this transfers over to the rest of women in society.

For the most part, being an attractive woman in our society today means always maintaining a super-thin figure by any means possible (do celebrity moms race to see who can get back to pre-baby weight the fastest?), fighting against the tiniest sign of wrinkles or lines (shouldn’t you be happy to have a lot of laugh lines?), having a nice tan (what is so wrong with pale skin anyways?), and on and on and on.

I obviously do not mean this as a blanket statement. There are many gorgeous women in Hollywood and everyday life that love and show off their curves and natural beauty. Ultimately, I believe that being healthy and happy with your appearance is all that matters. But when did women go from being happy (more than happy actually) to look like this:

To this:

Oh, hey look...Marilyn is in both pictures
To me, wrinkles and curves say that you have lived and that you enjoy life. You have laughed and cried, you have had your fair share of worries and made mistakes, you have had adventures and known joy, maybe you have gotten to know the delight of motherhood, or you weren’t afraid to indulge yourself now and then.

Why would you want to erase that?

Audrey Hepburn looks even more stunning with her lovely laugh lines

When did the standards for beauty in our society change, and how far will it go?

I'll keep studying these unaffected beauties and let you know if I figure it out. In the meantime, I hope you accept your naturally beautiful self for all of it's perfect imperfections.

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