The Eye of the Beholder: A Look At Beauty Standards

SKIMS Launches in Selfridges | Lifestyle | London On The Inside
Beauty has changed throughout the years – learn about the past and present of beauty. Retrieved from London on the Inside

Yuliia Hrytskiv
May 18, 2021

Beauty standards are so powerful that they can affect the course of an individual’s life. How popular one is, how many romantic relationships one has in a lifetime, or simply how happy one is with oneself are all things that can be affected by beauty standards. I do not know to what extent beauty standards affect men, but I imagine that they do in their own unique fashion. In this article, however, I’m going to focus on the role beauty standards play in a woman’s life. 

There is no way of knowing how beauty standards change. That is, there is no prediction of which body shape or hair colour will be viewed as “beautiful” in one hundred years. There is, however, a correlation between the women’s rights movements and the liberation of women’s bodies from harmful beauty standards. While women have fought for the ability to free their minds of toxic expectations, these standards followed them when they opened any magazine, turned on the TV, or saw which women were considered “beautiful” in their workplace. 

According to Slice, there is a relationship between capitalism, beauty standards, and the economy. The interconnection between these three things stems from the idea that women need to change some aspect of themselves to be considered beautiful. Thus, they will need to buy some self-help, dieting, anti-acne, or hair products, and thus further enrich the  beauty industry. According to the above, women are not born “beautiful”, but rather shaped into a society’s idea of beauty through an extensive diet, exercise, or plastic surgery. 

In the pandemic, with so many beauty salons closed, people have been forced to face themselves without familiar beauty maintenance procedures. According to the New York Times, people can be divided into those that let their true beauty flourish and those that cannot wait until things return to normal. In fact, many people want to go back to the gyms more than they want to come back to in-person jobs. Maintaining one’s beauty is a way to feel in control of a situation, because appearance, unlike many other things, can be maintained. 

Virgie Tovar, a body positive activist, says that as people are becoming more anxious about gaining weight during lockdown (also known as the “COVID 15”) there is an increase in fat-shaming on social media. Other researchers, however, are positive that the pandemic will make all individuals more compassionate and accepting of their bodies. 

An example of how vital the beauty industry is may be illustrated with an example from more than a hundred years ago, when during WWII, lipstick wasn’t rationed in Britain, deemed a war necessity. This illustrates how economically and socially important the beauty industry is in society. So, even if one does not seek to buy beauty products, they are in the air they breathe.

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