Thursday, September 24, 2009

Beauty Through the Ages

Last week in AP World we talked about footbinding, and you all groaned in disgust about the deformity that Chinese women had to endure. But suffering for beauty was not a new thing, even for the Song Dynasty centuries ago. In fact, as long as people have been able to admire themselves in mirrors or pools of water, people have been enduring tremendous pain for the sake of being accepted in society.

Perhaps the first time that this occurred in history was with the ancient Egyptians. You may remember King Tut's fabulous black eyeliner in that recreated image of him. That's nothing compared to what the women did to themselves. They used crocodile you-know-what as a sort of mud bath, and their eye make-up was made of malachite (a green ore of copper), lead sulfide, and kohl, which consisted of soot, metal, and animal fat. All this metal on their thin eyelids meant irritability, insomnia, and mental decrease! They lost brain power for beauty...

The Greeks took it even farther. They put lead all over their face, not just on the eyes. It was a white lead face cream that was supposed to "clear complexions and improve the texture of the skin". But before you pick this up from Wal-mart, you should know that this lead to skin ruptures, madness and infertility. Despite knowing of these health risks, Romans even joined in on putting this stuff on their face, and adding red led for a healthy rose glow. Well, healthy-looking at least.

There's a cool link I found about the different body shapes that were popular from the 1700's through the 80's. What's interesting is that pretty much every body shape has been popular at one time or another. Check it out and come to your own conclusions...analyzing documents like this will be very important! Let me know what you think.


Lindsay Killian said...

I find it interesting that people (especially girls) can be so quick to say "EWWW!" to the foot binding thing, when in actuality the ever-trendy high heels are doing some pretty bad damage to women's feet as well. I also found the article about what styles were popular at different times very interesting too. Thank goodness for "brassires" being invented and "shaven legs" becoming popular!

Becca B said...

I DEFINITELY agree with what Lindsay about the brassires and shaven legs. And, I too found this article very informative and almost humorous in that so many styles that were popular are almost coming back in different forms today!

KainaatB said...

After reading the link, I was weirded out by the fact that women put mouse skin in place of their shaven eyebrows to be an image of beauty. It is also interesting how the pear body shape which was in style is the complete opposite of what out culture accepts today.
Although Becca makes me wonder that if older styles are coming back in different ways, then what makes them popular again. Is it the resources that are available at the time or the conditions people are living in? Do you think population has something to do with it?