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Thursday 20 June 2024

Tell Us About....Beauty

 Collage showing different representations of Beauty through the centuries

Dear friends.  I've always been fascinated by the way perceptions of women's beauty have shifted over the centuries, so I was thrilled when Marsha chose Beauty as the prompt for this month's Tell Us About challenge.

Each month bloggers from around the world give their own unique interpretation of the prompt. 

In the picture above, you can see three different looks. There's the Marie Antoinette look of the 1700s, with her hairstyle carefully chosen to represent genuine political power. Then there's how we imagine Queen Cleopatra, ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt from 51 to 30 BC. Finally, there's the ubiquitous Kardashians, who have spawned a much copied look that involves changing facial features.

And in between there have been so many more styles. 

One thing which frequently changes is how a woman's shape is perceived. Women painted by Rubens were voluptuous, and it was a shape that was coveted.

In the 1920s, it was fashionable to have a very slim boyish shape to wear flapper dresses that skimmed over the body. This shape became popular again in the 1960s with Twiggy and mini dresses. In the 1990s models like Kate Moss were accused of being too thin, although the "supermodels" of this period - Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Cindi Crawford, were more shapely. 

Hairstyles is another fascinating area.  In my teens I succumbed to hair trends. I had a mullet, or feather cut as it was called, in the 70s, and loved it. This was followed by perms. I even tried hair extensions, in 1989, long before they became a celebrity obsession  (read more about my hair experiments). 

Even today, hair can be controversial. There was a recent furore in France (mostly among men) when the judges of the Miss France beauty pageant chose a contestant with short hair.  This seems bizarre when you consider the many famous French beauties who have had short hair, among them Leslie Caron and Audrey Tautou in Amelie. But somehow a short haired Miss France was considered too androgynous. 

Eve Gilles Miss France 2024 who ignited a controversy about short hair

I noticed the other day, when I was walking near my old school, how all the older girls had long hair, and how high maintenance it looked. Some had highlights or balayage. Others had luscious curls which must have taken time to style first thing in the morning.

Ah, young women.  I despair when I see how prevalent the Kardashian look is.  Why do so many young women want to look the same, with ludicrously long eyelashes, a trout pout courtesy of lip fillers, a face thickly smeared with foundation, long plastic nails and bushy eye brows which are either drawn or tattooed on?

It makes me sad, because young women have an incredible luminosity and glow that's being masked.  Maybe that's their goal, because I honestly believe young women are subjected to far more harassment and abuse from men than we were, even in the 70s.  

But it's not all bad because women have seized the initiative in a couple of areas and are wearing what's comfortable instead of what's dictated by the preferences of men.  The lockdowns resulted in us enjoying flat footwear, and it's remained the norm, even causing controversy on red carpet events at Cannes, for example. Below: Kristen Stewart takes off her high heels at Cannes, 2018. 

Filmstar Kristen Stewart takes off her high heels on the red carpet at Cannes, 2018, in a history-making moment

Taking it a stage further, women are less inclined to "suit up" for work and have adopted softer tailoring. The banks, financial institutions and airlines, are not particularly pleased and attempts have been made, and failed, to stop women from dressing comfortably. 

The biggest change has been with lingerie. Soft bralets have replaced the conical bras of the 50s and the underwired padded horror of the Wonderbra, circa 1980s. It seems like a different age when women were bare breasted in a certain national newspaper and bill boards saying "Hello Boys" were everywhere, showing Eva Herzigova's cleavage in a Wonderbra. Progress! 

The trend for long, flowing and tent-like dresses is a further progression of this, an excursion into modest dressing. Women want to be seen and valued for themselves, not trussed up for the amusement of men. 

Meanwhile the catwalks at the fashion shows now feature much more diversity. Models like Ashley Graham, described as Plus Size, earn a good living  (although Plus Size tends to indicate something like a UK size 12, a US size 8). We still don't see many older women though, and when we do, they are typically very thin with long grey or white hair. 

What do you think about our current standards of beauty?  Short haired women?  Kardashian Klones? Soft lingerie and tent dresses.....do tell in the comments.


Now let's see how my fellow bloggers got on. 

Marsha from Marsha in the Middle, who set this month's challenge, is not talking beauty in the fashion world. Instead, she’s writing about the beauty we can see all around us.

Debbie from Deb's World asked some special women in her life for their thoughts on beauty, which may be cheating in some ways but...their words are all heartbreakingly beautiful and make for inspiring reading!

Penny from Frugal Fashion Shopper looked at beauty from all angles (because there are so many aspects of the idea of beauty)  and decided to write mainly about the history of eyebrows! 

Jill from Grownup Glamour has looked at Beauty in its many forms.

Sue from Women Living Well After 50 explores beauty in all forms and discusses how we can thrive by putting the focus on our inner beauty as well as the beauty that surrounds us.

Mary Katherine from MK's Adventures in Style reflects on the importance our society places on "beauty" for women, and how she wrestles in her own life to balance having gravitas and glitter at the same time...

Leslie from Once Upon a Time and Happily Ever After shares some of the things that make her world a more beautiful place.  

Suzy from Suzy Turner delves into the journey of self-love and embracing authentic beauty, wrinkles and all. 

I hope you enjoyed our different interpretations of Beauty. If you have a new or evergreen post on Beauty, add it to the link up below. Next month's prompt is BLOGGING, set by Debbie of Deb's World.  Our posts go live on the 3rd Thursday of the month, if you'd like to join us.


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If you have a post, new or evergreen, on Beauty, please add it to our link-up. As this is intended to be an archive of posts on this topic, other posts will be removed.  If you're looking for the Wow on Wednesday link-up please scroll below to my previous post. 

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