Arguably, today’s beauty standards say that women are expected to wear makeup in their daily lives, work out at the gym, stay skinny with curves in the right places, and be young. However, what makes today different from the past is that we can also show our uniqueness, as society has become more inclusive. These trends are all influenced by history and technological developments that we’re about to tell you all about.

Enlighten is looking into the past to understand just where our beauty standards come from.

1. TV and cinema changed how makeup was used.

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In the 1950s, more makeup like foundation, eyeliner, and blush began being used. This was a time when colored movies were becoming popular, and women began to copy these theatrical faces from the big screen. Actresses such as Clara Bow, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marilyn Monroe were some of the most popular.

Since then, makeup has been a huge part of so many women’s lives. In fact, the global makeup industry is thought to be worth around $640 billion in 2020.

2. Our ideal body type is influenced by celebrities.

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Today’s ideal body shape is an exaggerated hourglass: a thin waist and legs, and a large butt and breasts. In the 1950s and 1960s, the idea of slimmer bodies being healthier and more attractive started. Beauty icons such as Brigitte Bardot, Audrey Hepburn, and Sophia Loren impacted this ideal body type significantly.

Later, the “size 0” supermodel look of the 1990s, made popular by Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, and Claudia Schiffer, became trendy. These trends still exist today as one ideal body shape that is both slim and curvaceous.

3. The 1980s gave us fitness fanaticism.

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Since the 1980s, women like Jane Fonda have made fitness popular. Today, social media encourages women to get fit and skinny. This translates to toned muscles, lifted butts, and flat stomachs.

However, it does come with a downside, mainly due to the social media pressure of today. Rather than encouraging a healthier lifestyle, a study showed that it can negatively impact many women’s mental health.

4. Photoshop has changed the way we see ourselves.

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There’s a lot of pressure on people today because of how perfect our (Photoshopped) idols look. Today, we have a wide range of makeup and products that promise to cover up and remove “blemishes” such as stretch marks, cellulite, and skin “imperfections” like vitiligo and birthmarks.

Due to the invention of Photoshop, the perfect body is more and more impossible to achieve. Over the past 25 years, Photoshop technology has become so advanced that it’s sometimes hard to tell when it has actually been used, creating unrealistic standards for women.

5. Society is becoming more inclusive.

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Today, there’s way more acceptance of all our body shapes and colors, with icons such as Jamie Brewer, Winnie Harlow, and Tess Holliday leading the way. Especially in fashion, there has been a shift that has models from diverse ethnic backgrounds representing brands. Brands such as Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty have given people easy access to makeup for many skin tones.

This change was helped by rising awareness that better representation was needed, especially within the world of fashion and entertainment.

Who’s your favorite beauty icon? Which era do you think had the best beauty standards?