In the modern day, with ubiquitous media messages containing the idealistic image of modern-day beauty invading our lives, it can be difficult to gain perspective about our own bodies and what beauty really is. Here is a quick snapshot summary of the evolution of beauty over the decades.


1950’s: The struggle for effortless perfection

The beautiful ’50s icon, Grace Kelly. (

The beauty standard for this era revolved around the idea of femininity. The role of women in society at the time was, for the most part, purely domestic. Stresses on women to be the perfect wife, mother, housekeeper, etc. were high. The ideal beauty for this time period included: small waist, more modest clothing, minimal makeup, salon-styled hair, slender, but still curvaceous. Women during this time were not expected to exercise, so the idea of a perfectly toned body was not prolific during this time. Fashion icons for this era include: Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, and Elizabeth Taylor.




1960’s: The rise of the modern woman

1960's style

Mod fashion of the 1960’s (

The idea of beauty remained largely the same during this decade, but the sex factor was upped considerably as society moved away from tradition in a more modern direction. The styles became more psychedelic and included more vivid colors; skirts went higher, makeup got heavier, the models were thinner and taller (still not muscular) and the classic “it” 60’s hairstyle was the voluminous bob, flipped at the bottom. In society, women still faced feminist issues, but the ideal was the “independent single girl” in the modern world.





1970’s: Be hip

The iconic Farrah Fawcett of Charlie’s Angels (

In this era, the standard of beauty began to move away from traditional 1940’s and 50’s feminine beauty, and moved towards a more edgy form of beauty. Instead of using models who were traditional curvy and feminine beauties, they used women who defied the traditional femininity: bold eyebrows, sharp cheekbones, natural hair, and ultra-thin figures were considered beautiful — there was a marked rise in anorexia during this time as a result. Models with more interesting features were sought out, and a more unusual beauty that would not have passed for “pretty” twenty or thirty years before was suddenly ideal. Most of the socially deemed beautiful women at this time were tall, thin, not very curvy, and blonde; think Mia Farrow, Farrah Fawcett, and Diane Keaton.


1980’s: The Dark ages of fashion/getting physical


The 1980’s brought the rise of many unfortunate trends like perms, shoulder pads, and exercising. Don’t get me wrong — exercising is an important addition to a healthy lifestyle. This also added another slew of things to our female beauty checklist when celebrities figured out how to take health and exercise to the next level, only attainable to those of us who can afford a trainer or three hours a day to devote to it. The 80’s exercise sensation gave way to super-fit female celebs like Jane Fonda and Olivia Newton-John.





1990’s: Girl next door

Jennifer Aniston defined 90’s beauty. (

The 90’s ideal beauty is summed up by Rachel from “Friends” and the show “Baywatch.” Women were supposed to be total babes who still have an approachable, girl-next-door, Rachel Greene vibe. But who doesn’t love the 90’s?





“Beauty” — what does it mean? The definition of this elusive concept has been changing since the dawn of humanity; in more recent years, beauty manifests itself in certain ideals based on the societal and cultural circumstances of a given time. We are all-too-familiar with the standards of beauty society expects from us today (Angelina Jolie’s arms, Halle Berry’s abs, and Scarlett Johansson’s face); what we are supposed to look like is thrown in our faces at every turn. Looking back at the women of the past gives us perspective on the idea of beauty we see in our own society today, and allows us to realize that beauty is highly tied to culture.


The next time you catch yourself wishing you could capture the mysterious ethnic vibe of Mila Kunis, remember that beauty is more than looks, and you can be your own kind of beautiful.


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